IC 405 – Flaming Star Nebula

“I’m sort of done with Orion at the moment”


It was a cold, bitter night in Britain,

But it was, at least, clear. Despite what the weather forecast said. Sometimes relying on a forecast only takes you so far. With the actual sky being clear, I decided I just had to set up.

I’m slowly getting really used to setting up my equipment, getting faster and faster at it. Though… I have to admit, and this will come as a surprise to you, the footage of me setting up in the video above… it’s sped up.

I know! Shocking.

IC 405- The Flaming Star Nebula

I don’t think “The” is part of its title, but it sounds better to me – so I’m rolling with that. This evening posed the question we all face: “What do I shoot?”. With so many targets and so precious few nights the right decision is important.

I really wanted to shoot some Horsehead Nebulae, since it’s so iconic. But I’m sort of done with Orion at the moment. No fault of its own, but its where I mainly have been shooting. So the Horsehead’s iconicity was kind of its downfall for this time. The Heart Nebulae is another I want to shoot – but it bearly fits in the FOV of my ED80 even with the 0.8x reducer/flattener.

So I decided on the Flaming Star. I hadn’t seen many people uploading pictures of it this season so I decided to give it a go. Plus its magnititude was quite forgiving at Magnititude 6.

The image shoes a Skywatcher refracting telescope riding on a German Equatorial Mount during an imaging session. A small guide scope is attached to the main tube.
Imaging on the 9/1/19

With all the equipment sorted out and set up, I went onto the actual process of getting guidance going and shooting. I was able to get 300 second subs which was a groundbreaking first for me! So in an attempt to get as much signal as possible I cranked my settings to ISO1600 and shot for 300 seconds. Astrophotography Tool informed me my sensor was at a modest 10 celsius during the entire session.

I did get clouded out once for about an hour. So I put the lens cap on, shot my darks and had my dinner whilst I waited for it to clear up. I did have an issue of composition – it was really difficult sighting any stars around IC405 for composing. So I lost a lot of time messing around with that. I still feel I could have done much better.

Oh and I also had a load of dust on my sensor AGAIN.

An image showing off a cloudy and hazy raw image of a nebula. The nebulous cloud in the middle is faint red, with 4 brighter stars in the bottom right corner.
One of my raw light frames. You can see the dust on the top.

So really, I lost the ‘tail’ of the nebula to dust and having to crop as the dust was too intense for flat frames to calibrate out. Unfortunate.

So what have I learnt? I need to do a custom white balance to my modified Canon 450D camera, I need to make sure it’s completely dust free, and to reel it back in a bit on the ISO or exposure length. I think next time I shall try 3 minute subs @ ISO800 perhaps.

Lessons have been learnt – and I’m extremely eager to get back out there and shoot more targets!

Enjoy 🙂

Image shows a processed picture of the Flaming Star Nebulae. A vivid red cloud of dust is visible in the centre of the frame illuminated by the bright star A E Auriga.
IC 405- Flaming Star Nebula

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