M97 the Owl Nebula and M108 the Surfboard Galay

M97, the Owl nebula (also known as Messier 97 or NGC 3587) is a planetary nebula in the constellation Ursa Major.

It is one of the four planetary nebulae included in the Messier catalogue and was discovered in 1781 by the French astronomer Pierre Méchain.

Its name Owl Nebula has been used since 1848 when the astronomer William Parsons (Lord Rosse), following a visual observation, drew a picture reminiscent of an owl's head: The famous eyes consist of two dark patches superimposed on the face of the nebula.

The image is presented in the Ha-OIII-OIII palette (with RGB stars) and accumulates 24 hours of exposure time. I first calibrated the image with the PixInsight SpectophotometricColorCalibration tool in narrowband mode, but later I modified the balance of the G and B channels to achieve a more (subjective) pleasant view.

This object is relatively "small" for my equipment (which provides a resolution of 1.69"/pixel), so it has been processed with Drizzle Integration x2.

In the same field covered by the CCD sensor of my camera, we can find M 108.

M108 (Messier 108, also called "the Surfboard Galaxy"), is a nice barred spiral galaxy, located also in the constellation Ursa Major. The galaxy is located about 40 to 50 million light-years from Earth and is moving away from us at a speed of approximately 700 km/s. It also appears in the New General Catalogue as NGC 3556.

As M97, it was also discovered by Pierre Méchain.

As the primary target of this image was M97, I collected most of the data with the Ha and OIII filters and only a small part with RGB.

For that reason, the image of M108 is presented here with a bit unusual (for a galaxy) hybrid palette R Ha-G OIII-B OIII (with RGB stars).

Last image is the whole widefield version (R Ha-G OIII-B OIII) that shows M97 and M108 at the same time. This is a very interesting field, showing a large number of small galaxies on the background.

Image processing: Pixinsight.

Click on the images for a full resolution version, or go to the Gallery section for complete exposure details.

Observatory automation and remote operation with Talon6 

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