Barnard's Merope Nebula (IC 349)

Merope Nebula
All Images Copyright Steve Cannistra

Please click here or on image for the larger view.

Magnitude:  13 (IC 349)
Size:  0.5 arcminutes
Distance: 380 light years
RA: 3h 46m 31s
Dec: 23 degrees 57' 36"

Barnard's Merope Nebula (IC 349) is a small region of dust that shines brightly by reflected light from the star Merope, a member of the Pleiades
open star cluster (M45, the "Seven Sisters").  I have labeled it on the larger image shown here.  The nebula was first discovered visually by Barnard in 1890 using the Lick 36" telescope.  It is challenging to image due to Merope's proximity, which needs to be tamed with masks in PS as noted below.  Johannes Schedler has captured more detail using his 16" Cassegrain at f10.  More information about the Merope Nebula may be found here.

Photographic Details:

Date:  November 25, 2005
Scope:  Takahashi FS-102 at f6 with TOA-130 focal reducer, on the G11 Losmandy Mount.
Autoguider:  SBIG STV with e-finder.
Camera:  SXV-H9.

Astronomiks L filter; IDAS-LPS filter.
Exposures:  Luminance filter, 24 x 5' unbinned.  Total exposure: 2 hours.
Conditions:  Temperature 22 degrees F; average transparency, average seeing; calm; clear. 
Post-processing:  No darks were needed for this image.  Subs were bias subtracted, aligned, and combined in Maxim.  DDP performed in ImagesPlus (IP), with further processing in Photoshop CS (16 bit format).  Diffractions spikes created with two pieces of kite string placed perpendicularly in front of the telescope.  In order to enhance the Merope Nebula itself, I masked out nearby Merope as much as possible during DDP and curves stretching.  I also applied 20 iterations of Lucy-Richardson deconvolution (5x5 PSF) in ImagesPlus.  I didn't spend much time processing this image to "perfection" (and I don't plan on adding color), since my intent was only to detect IC 349.

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