Cassiopeia Starfield

Cassiopeia Starfield
All Images Copyright Steve Cannistra

Please click here for an image with labels
Please click here for a medium sized image (40%)
Please click here for larger sized image (55%)
Please click here for a crop of IC 63 and IC 59
Please click here for a crop of vdB 4
click here for a crop of SH2-180

RA (J2000): 00h 51m 51s
Dec (J2000): 61 degrees 25' 23"
Position Angle (Pinpoint):  minus 37 degrees

The above image was taken on three consecutive nights of exceptionally transparent and clear skies in New England.  It is a widefield view of a starfield in the constellation Cassiopeia that contains a number of interesting objects, the most familiar being the mixed emission and reflection nebulae IC 59 and IC 63, seen to the left of center, riding above the bright star gamma Cassiopeia.  Gamma Cas forms the middle star in the famous "W" shape of the Cassiopeia constellation.  It is an odd Be type variable with an extremely fast rotation rate, associated with loss of mass and significant changes in brightness over the years.  This highly luminous star is responsible for energizing the emission front of IC 59 and IC 63, causing it to glow red in Ha light.  Behind the emission front is the less energetic reflection component that shines with predominantly blue light.  Also seen in this starscape is the myriad of stars that populate the Milky Way in this location, as well as bands of dust, several open clusters, the faint emission nebula SH2-180, as well as the tiny planetary nebula PLN 121+0.1 (associated with SH2-179).  Feel free to check out the links to larger images and to crops of areas of interest within this star rich field.  Rob Gendler's description of IC 59 and IC 63 may be found here.

Photographic Details:
Date:  September 19, 20, 21, 2009
Scope:  Takahashi FSQ106 at f5 on the Takahashi NJP Mount
Autoguider:  SBIG ST-402 with 60mm guidescope, focal length 227mm
Camera:  STL11K -20C
Baader Ha, LRGB filter set; all 50.8mm unmounted
Exposures:  Luminance 180'; Ha 200'; R 60'; G 60'; B 120'.  Total exposure 10.3 hours
Post-processing:  Calibrated, aligned, and Sigma Clip combined in Maxim, followed by DDP in ImagesPlus (IP).  Further processing in Photoshop CS (16 bit format)
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