M16 Eagle Nebula/Pillars of Creation

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 partner Manting who first noticed 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 4ly long but about 7000ly 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 are two major complications with me getting this image. First is the size. Given its length and distance ratio, it is like trying to show 3' high poles from a mile away. This is essentially a 3x crop/zoom of my overall image, which makes the image more 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.