Eagle Nebula/Pillars of Creation, M16

June 2021

Imaging: TS80 apo, ZWO ASI533 (gain 100, 0C), L-Enhance
Subs: 204x120s (6.8h), darks, flats, and darkflats
Software: NINA, Phd2, PixInsight

Dedicated to my wife Manting who first discovered images of this target and convinced me to try to capture it.

(Additional notes below)



This is a target made culturally famous by its spectacular Hubble image. The so-called Pillars of Creation are three spires within Messier 16, the Eagle Nebula. They are so named, according to Wikipedia, because the gas and dust are in the process of creating stars. The Pillars are about 4 LY long but about 7000 LY from us. There is some debate about whether some new data indicates that the Pillars have already been destroyed, but either way, we will continue to see them this way for at least another thousand years.

There were two major complications to producing this image. First is the target size. Given its length and distance ratio, it is like trying to show 3 foot high poles from a mile away. This is essentially a 3x crop/zoom of my overall image, which makes the image blurry and noisy. The bigger problem is that the popularized image is in the eponymous "Hubble palette" which uses different colors to show the Ha, S, and OIII gases. My camera is a straight RGB camera and can't do this directly (the direct image is mostly all red). It takes a lot of machinations to create a pseudo-SHO palette. This was my first time using this technique and the image has some artifacts if you look closely.

To see the difference between the Hubble palette and the normal RGB color versions, take a look at this GIF.