Often depicted in various ways as an “eye” in space, the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) is definitely one of the more awesome planetary nebulae out there. It’s a fantastic example of a star that has gone nova after it’s outer shell of gas has been blown apart, leaving a white dwarf at the center.
This was one of a couple images I captured from the SkiesAway Star Party at Joshua Tree last weekend. Conditions were great all three nights so we started collecting as many photons as we could. At f/6.3, I had to stay with each object a while to get a good amount of exposure. The Helix is a somewhat low contrast object, but photographically it has amazinly vibrant colors. I did not ambitiously boost the saturation or embellish the colors in this image – it’s what the camera picked up! I actually did very little processing “trickery” at all, mainly just PixInsight’s DBE to help even out the background, and basic curves stretching in Photoshop.
This is an LRGB capture, each subframe of 720 seconds (a few hours of each channel total)
AP130GT f/6.3 Refractor
QHY16200 CCD with Orion 2″ LRGB Imaging Filters
QHY’s OAG and QHY 5ii Autoguider
AP900GTO EQ Mount