Blue Reflection Nebulas in Camelopardalis, California

Blue Reflection Nebulas in Camelopardalis
Panamint Valley, California   –   December 6, 2021
— Ralph Paonessa
QSI 683wsg-8 -25° C   *   Takahashi FSQ-106EDX III refractor + 0.73X   *   f/3.7

This widefield telescopic view reveals an area of varied nebulosity where a large dust cloud resides in the circumpolar contellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe.

Dust reflects the blue light from nearby stars, giving rise to the faint reflection nebulae known as van den Bergh 14 and 15 (left and right).

The brighter red areas are emission nebulae of hydrogen gas; the radiation from nearby stars causes hydrogen to emit red H-alpha radiation. There is a vast area of H-alpha nebulosity, known as Sharpless 202, beyond the top of this image.

LRGB composite, 15 hr total exposure:

  • Lum 26 x 10 min + 5 x 8 min = 5 hr
  • Red 24 x 10 min = 4 hr
  • Green 18 x 10 min = 3 hr
  • Blue 17 x 10 min = 2.8 hr

This was a challenging image to process, with a tradeoff between enhacing details in the blue wisps of reflection nebula dust (which I favored) versus showing the full extent of those dust clouds, which has faded here.

SQM reading 21.5 in dark desert skies. Data gathered over four nights. Stacked and processed in PixInsight; adjusted in Adobe Lightroom.

Photo ID: vdB 14 vdB 15 LRGB-4 v2