Eta Carina Nebula

Eta Carina Nebula

NGC 3372

Constellation: Carina
Ra: 10h 44m 17s
Dec: -59d 55m 17s
Distance: 10,000 light years
Image Size: 42' x 42'
North: Upper left



Published in Astronomy Magazine, full page, December 2008, page 88.
The Eta Carinae Nebula, NGC 3372, is 10,000 light years from Earth in the constellation of Carina. It is also known as the Great Carina Nebula, is bright (mag 1) and nearly four times the size of the Great Orion Nebula, making it one of the largest HII regions in the Milky Way. Also, Eta Carinae is one of the most massive and brightest stars in the Milky Way. The Keyhole Nebula includes the dark material just to the right of bright Eta Carinae in this image (see link to identify various objects).
Processed in CCDStack and Photoshop CS2. R=SII. G=H-a, B=OIII
Although taken solely to add true color to the stars, the brightness of the Eta Carina Nebula allows this short (4x2min R,G,B) image to stand on its own so you can compare the mapped narrowband color to a more conventional RGB

This first light color image is the culmination of much work from alot of people.
This system (and our southern skies adventure) is a partnership with my close friend, Ken Crawford, at a new southern hemsiphere site, MRO (Macedon Ranges Observatory), about 2 hours north of Melbourne (Victoria), Australia developed, owned and operated on-site by Mr. Bert Candusio. It is on the far side of the Macedon Range and is somewhat protected from the weather at the southern coast. Bert’s dedication to making this a top-notch imaging facility is amazing.
Our system is comprised of a Bisque Paramount ME, RCOS 12.5" RC truss telescope and Astro-Phsics AP130 5" refractor. Both telescopes have Apogee Alta U16M cameras (Kodak KAF16803E CCD), and Apogee’s new AI-FW50-7s filter wheel housing Astrodon E-Series LRGB filters and new 95%T 5 nm H-a and SII and 3 nm OIII narrowband 50 mm square filters. The system is guided using an Astrodon MonsterMOAG and SBIG ST-402 CCD guide camera. The FOV for the 12.5" RC is ~3/4 degree square and for the AP130 is ~2.6 degrees square. A picture of the system is shown below:

The cable management is terrific (a thank you to Ken and John Smith). We have the central pier of 9 piers in a large roll-off roof buidling with relatively low walls and a gabled north wall that tilts out (shown above). The floor is elevated and the cabling goes out near the pier underneath the building. See more details on the MRO web site. The controlling computers are against a wall (not shown above).
It is an amazing experience to ship 576 pounds (~260 kg) of equipment to Melbourne, having Bert pick up the material and a week later, being able to capture a first light. Mr. Brad Moore was instrumental in helping to get the system operational, collimated, polar aligned and corrected for periodic error. Brad’s expertise is amazing, and, of course, Bert was there every step of the way. Ken and I thank you both very much. The high QE and low noise of the U16M as well as the huge CCD and anti-blooming operation helps to make imaging these objects a joy.

Exposure: 5.6 hours H-a, SII, OIII and RGB
Telescope: RCOS 12.5
Mount: Software Bisque Paramount ME
Oag: Astrodon MonsterMOAG
Acquisition: CCD AutoPilot3
Calibration: CCDStack
Observatory Site: Macedon Ranges Observatory, Melbourne, Australia
Camera: Apogee U16M
Filters: Astrodon 5 nm H-a & SII, 3nm OIII, Gen 1 RGB
Guider: SBIG ST-402
Camera Operation: MaximDL4.62
Processing: Photoshop CS2
Image Date: 12/30/2007

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