NGC 7380 – The Wizard Nebula

NGC 7380, located in the constellation Cepheus, is an open cluster of stars energizing the remaining gas and dust in the surrounding area. Over the next 100 million years, the nebula part of the cluster will eventually dissipate into nothingness, but the remaining stars will most likely last longer than our solar system.

NGC 7380 is 7,200 light years away, which means these images are capturing the cluster as how it appeared 7,200 years ago

NGC 7380 - The Wizard Nebula in Narrowband

Imaging Details

  • Processing Workflow: Narrowband
  • Color Associations
    • Red: Sulphur-II
    • Green: Hydrogen-Alpha
    • Blue: Oxygen-III
  • Sulphur-II: 30*600 seconds (2×2 binned)
  • Hydrogen-alpha: 24*600 seconds (1×1 binned)
  • Oxygen-III: 30*600 seconds (2×2 binned)
  • Total Imaging Time: 14 hours
  • Imaging Dates (5 nights):
    • 8/17/2020
    • 8/29/2020
    • 9/11/2020
    • 9/17/2020
    • 9/18/2020

A closer view

If we take a closer look at the details of the cluster, you can better see how the nebulous gas weaves around many of the stars, especially the upper left. Many of the tiny bulbs of gas are surrounding newly formed stars and potential solar systems.

NGC 7380 - The Wizard Nebula in Narrowband

Finer detail

In order to achieve the image quality of the zoomed in image, I did the following

  1. Image Calibration – Applied bias, dark and flat frames to each of the 84 images
  2. Cosmetic Correction – Applied to all 84 images to remove hot/cold pixels
  3. Star Alignment – Aligned all images so they all matched layout
  4. Crop – Applied an identical crop to all 84 images, focusing on the wizard’s face
  5. Star Alignment – Reran star alignment
  6. Image Integration – Integrated the images into 3 narrowband images (Hydrogen-alpha, Oxygen-iii and Sulphur-ii)
  7. Drizzle Integration – This is a process invented by astronomers working with data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Drizzle allows for more detail to appear. In the end, with a 2x drizzle integration, it ends up quadrupling the number of pixels. For this image, I ran a 4x drizzle. The extra pixels allows me to get finer detail, but the image sizes and processing time increases greatly.