Miguel Claro is a professional photographer, author and science communicator based in Lisbon, Portugal, who creates spectacular images of the night sky. As a European Southern Observatory photo ambassador, a member of The World At Night and the official astrophotographer of the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve, he specializes in astronomical “skyscapes” that connect Earth and night sky. Join Claro here as he takes us through his photograph “Heart and Soul Nebulas — A Cosmic Wonder as Seen from Alqueva.”
A deep-sky wide field view, captured in hydrogen-alpha and visible light, shows the Heart and Soul nebulas shining brightly in reddish hues from energized hydrogen. Both of them are located in the constellation Cassiopeia, about 6,000 light-years away from Earth. The Heart Nebula, designated IC 1805, is located on the left side of the image, and the Soul Nebula (IC 1871) is on the right.
Together these two nebulas span about 300 light-years, according to NASA. The beautiful Heart Nebula has in its center an open cluster of stars known as Melotte 15, which contains several bright stars nearly 50 times the mass of our sun.
To capture this visible-light and hydrogen-alpha image, I used a Canon 6D modified DSLR astrophotography camera with a Takahashi FSQ-106ED telescope with an EM200 equatorial mount and an auto-guided QE Reducer. The camera was programmed to shoot with ISO settings of 1600 and 2500.
The final composite combines 46 visible light (RGB) frames of 150-second exposures plus 24 narrowband (hydrogen-alpha filtered) frames of 360-second exposures. The total combined time was 259 minutes. Image processing was completed with PixInsight 1.8.8-3 and Adobe Photoshop CC 2020. The photo was captured from the Cumeada Observatory in the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve, in Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portugal.
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