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  • Writer's pictureTracey Snelus

Conjuring the sourcerer

NGC 6380, also known as the wizard nebula is an emission nebula surrounding a young open cluster of stars. Located in the constellation of Cepheus, it is estimated to be 7200 light years away. It's appearance does resemble an old wizard who has arms open as if casting a spell and wearing the typical wizards pointy hat. The object is rich in Hydrogen alpha and OII and is suited well for narrowband imaging. Whilst it has been a target on my to do list for many years, I have never made any effort to have a go. I am not sure why it has taken me this long to take the plunge. I can only think it is because it is such a lovely object that I was in fear of making a mess of it.

A fortunate spell of clear nights that fell over a weekend too meant that I had to take full advantage. Choosing the Wizard was simple, I had the OSC camera set up and it was pretty much the second object suggested by Telescopius.

Using SGPro I used frame and mosaic wizard to set up the target framing. I only wanted to capture data using the Optolong L-Extreme filter on the one shot ZWO ASI 183 colour camera as this favours the Ha and OII bands.

I took over 6 hours of data all comprising of 10 minute subs. Darks and dark bias I took from a previous library and this saved time on the evening for capturing the light files. I imaged using the William Optics 81mm GT triplet, mounted on EQ 5 Pro. Using a 50mm WO guide scope and ASI 120 guide camera. Leaving it to run over the course of the night, the automation of SG pro looked after the routine through the evening with it finally shutting down the sequence and parking the scope just shy of 4am. I woke up to double check all was OK before heading back to sleep for some much needed rest.

The morning, I stacked the image in Deep sky stacker, processing in Photoshop by stretching, curves, adjusting and equalising the colour before moving it into Lightroom for final adjustments. Overall, I am glad that I had took the plunge, tonight, as I write this blog post the imaging rig is back up and collecting Narrowband data for the Wizard in hope that I can add Ha and OII to see how that may boost the nebulosity..... watch this space to see if it works out.

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