The Heart & Soul Nebulae – 20 Hours

Ever since I took my first images of the Heart Nebula last November, I wanted to return to this target. I did so in December of last year right after my hospitalization with COVID-19 and produced my longest / largest project up to that point. At the time, I thought 6 hours was a very large amount of data! Since then, I did 11.5 hours on the Rosette Nebula, 14 hours on the California Nebula and now 20 hours on the Heart & Soul Nebulae together.

Here we have the 20 hours of data processed “normally” – Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and then processed in Photoshop how I normally do my narrowband filtered data. Previously, I had only beer able to shoot these targets separately:

Putting both of these in the same field of view without having to attempt a mosaic was a huge selling point for me with the Radian Raptor 61 telescope. Another good scope for this is the RedCat 51 – they both have similar focal lengths and both have the capability to produce wonderful images. Being able to get as much time on these targets over only a few nights under a dimly lit / new moon was a huge improvement over my previous attempts on these targets as well.

Here we have the same data processed in a simulated SHO Palette. This is done by stacking the images in Astro Pixel Processor and separating the Ha and Oiii channels out while simulating a Sii channel. Once the separation is done, I then use APP to combine those channels as well as do a background calibration and a light pollution removal to help neutralize the background. Once that is done, I then finalize the processing in Photoshop like I normally would.

I did two separate processes after my initial processing because I felt like I had over saturated the image, making it look more like a painting then a photograph. The only difference between these two processes is color balancing at the end.

Lastly, we have the data processed in the HOO palette, which is a little more “natural” for the filter I use – the Optolong L-eNhanced filter. Here we take the Ha and Oiii channels and combine them, using the Oiii channel twice. Processing is the same once that is done using both APP and Photoshop.

Equipment & Statistics

Radian Raptor 61
Canon EOS Ra
Optolong L-eNhanced Filter
Sky Watcher EQ6-R Pro
ZWO 30mm f4 MiniScope (guide)
ZWO asi224mc (guide)
184 x 360s (800 ISO)
20 x 300s (800 ISO)
Dark, flat, bias and dark flats calibration frames
Bortle 8 – Providence, RI

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