IC-1396a - The Elephant's Trunk Nebula

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Copyright 2009 Hap Griffin

IC1396a, sometimes called the "Elephant's Trunk Nebula" is a huge column of cold hydrogen gas and dust within the much larger IC1396 nebula complex, one of the largest emission nebulae visible in the sky.  It is being ionized and blown away by the ultraviolet radiation from nearby stars.  Inside the "head" of the nebula can be seen a hollowed out area caused by the formation of the small young star within it (LkHa349c) and the three solar mass star LkHa349a to its lower left.  The dark globules are area where gas and dust are coalescing under gravity and shock waves into new stars.  IC1396 lies at a distance of 1500 lights years.

This image was captured through a narrowband filter admitting only a narrow slice of spectrum around the wavelength of glowing hydrogen.  Thus it is a monochrome (single color) image displayed as shades of grey.

Date/Location:    August 29, 2009     Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Camera: QSI 583wsg
Filters: Astrodon E Series Generation 2 HA (5nm BW)
CCD Temperature: -10 C
Instrument:    Takahashi FSQ-106N 
Focal Ratio:   f/5
Mount: AP-1200
Guiding:    Auto through 10" Orion Newtonian w/ SBIG ST-402
Conditions:    Typical summer haze
Weather:    70 F, still
Exposure: 200 minutes total (20 x 10 min)
Capture: ImagesPlus v3.8 beta Camera Control
Processing:    Frame calibrations, alignment, Digital Development with ImagesPlus v3.75.  Finishing in Photoshop CS4.