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IC 1396

Located in the constellation Cepheus, IC 1396 is one of the largest emission nebulae in our galaxy, spanning 3 degrees across the sky, which is equivalent to 6 full moons. It lies almost 3000 light years away from earth. This image is taken with an Ha or Hydrogen Alpha filter. Energetic ultraviolet light radiating from the central star in this image, strips electrons away from the hydrogen gas that is the main component of this nebula. Then, as the electrons recombine with the hydrogen gas, photons are emitted. The strongest visible emission band is in the red part of the spectrum and is the Hydrogen Alpha Band, which is what we are seeing in this image.

The Elephant Trunk Nebula is a famous object seen in the upper left quadrant. The bright rim on this extended cloud is indicative of the active stellar formation that is occurring within the cloud. Strong radiation from nascent stars makes this area glow. Eventually the dark clouds will be blown away by this radiation, leaving the stars to our view. This process is seen clearly in the more widely viewed “Pillars of Creation” shot taken of the Eagle Nebula by the Hubble telescope. Also visible are multiple black, dense, clouds of dust called Bok Globules. These are also areas of new star formation. (Image was chosen as NASA's APOD {Astronomy Picture of the Day} on December 24th, 2007)

Image Acquisition information:
Date: November, 2007
Location: Starlodge Observatory, Ione CA
Telescope: FSQ 106
Camera: STL 11000
L(Ha)RGB : 80:30:30:30

(All images copyright © Kent V. Wood)

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