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This is the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula (IC1396A) about 2400 light years from Earth in the constellation Cepheus taken from my pool deck. This emission nebula is a large clump of interstellar gas and dust that is compressed by a powerful stellar wind, reaching 3,225 km/s, from a triple star system, HD 206267A (Largest Star near the center). The appearance of the wrapped trunk is formed by a pair of young, powerful stars whose solar winds clear gas and dust out of their local bubble.


Look slightly up and right from the center of the picture and you will see the formation of gas and dust that resembles an elephant trunk, giving the formation it’s common name. Also, on the far left of the image you will see a prominent star named “The Garnet Star”. The Garnet Star is one of the largest known stars. It shines 100,000 times brighter than our sun and its radius is 1000 times larger than our sun. If you plopped The Garnet Star at the center of our solar system where our sun sits, it would go all the way out to Jupiter’s orbit.


Anyhow, 2,400 years ago when Amyntas II (Alexander The Great’s Grandfather) was King of Macedon and Plato was teaching Aristotle math, science, and some other stuff, this nebula fired some photons towards Earth. Last night I caught some of them.


Equipment Used

Telescope: William Optics Z61 Refractor

Mount: iOptron CEM60

Camera: ZWO ASI 1600MM Pro

Autoguider: ZWO Off Axis Guider

Guide Camera: Starlight Xpress Lodestar X2

Focal Reducer/Field Flattener: William Optics 6AIII Flattener


I shot this image with a monochrome camera using narrow band filters, Ha, Oiii, and Sii, to capture the details of the nebula. I used a series of 10 minute exposures totaling 7.5 hours. I used the Hubble palette for processing, mapping Sii to Red, Ha to Green, and Oiii to Blue. I also took another hour of broadband shots to capture the natural star colors in the image.


If you like this picture, please watch my Youtube video on how I took it:

Photographing The Elephant's Trunk Nebula

Elephant's Trunk Nebula

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