Featured in Sky and Telescope Magazine, October 2016.

NGC 6188 by Shawn Nielsen featured in Sky and Telescope Magazine, October 2016 issue

Returning to Siding Spring Observatory in the southern hemisphere, I decided to image a region of space referred to as the fighting dragons of Ara NGC 6188. It’s a very stunning emission nebula located 4000 light years away from our Earth.

Fighting Dragons of Ara NGC 6188View high res

This emission nebula is sculpted by massive young stars that that formed there recently. Some of these stars are mere infants in the grand design of the universe, being only a few million years old. The open cluster (NGC 6193) just off center left in this image is fueling the reflection nebulosity within NGC 6188 next to it. The open cluster consists of 27 stars and they sculpt the dark shapes and create stellar winds and intense ultraviolet radiation that powers the nebula’s glow.

The fighting dragons of Ara
I’ve cropped and rotated the image so it is easier to see the fighting dragons of Ara within the emission nebula of NGC 6188. To the lower left is planetary nebula NGC 6164,

This narrowband image was taken using three different filters also known as the Hubble palette. The red channel is ionized Sulfur (SII), the green channel is ionized Hydrogen (H-alpha) and the blue channel is ionized Oxygen (OIII).

There are many interesting objects in and around NGC 6188. It’s a region of space with emission nebula, an open cluster creating reflection nebulosity and planetary nebula NGC 6164 that was created by one of the O-type stars in this region space. This planetary nebula has an interesting gaseous cloud and halo surrounding it along with its central bright star.

I think NGC 6188 has a scifi fantasy painting quality to it when captured in Ha, O3 and S2. What do you think?


Takahashi FSQ ED 106mm refractor at F5.0 (530mm)

SBIG STL-11000M CCD (10.7 mega pixels)

Paramount ME EQ mount

Maxim DL Pro 5 for camera control, acquistion and guiding. Focusmax for autofocusing.

12 x 5min Ha / 12 x5min O3 / 12 x 5min S2 (not used) – 3 hours total data.

Imaged remotely using the iTelescope T12 and T8 at the Siding Springs Observatory in Australia.

Processed in Pixinsight, using synthetic luminance channel created from the narrowband channels.

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