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Western Veil Nebula

The wide field of view (480mm) in my 80mm telescope shows the Western Veil Nebula with countless stars surrounding it.  The stock DSLR used had a hard time picking up the faint details of the Witches broom nebula!

Western Veil Nebula

NGC 6960 – Western Veil Nebula

NGC 6960 – Western Veil Nebula

The Veil Nebula is quite possibly the most famous supernova remnant in the night sky. It gets its name from it’s long, delicate filamentary structure. The entire nebula covers the width of 12 full moons from our perspective on earth! The photo above captures the Western portion of the Veil Nebula, also known as the “witch’s broom nebula“.

Photographed on: July 8, 2014

Telescope: Explore Scientific ED80 with WO Flat III 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Skywatcher HEQ-5 Pro
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro II and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: Orion Mini 50mm
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Stock)
ISO: 1600
Total Exposure: 4 Hours (60 x 240 seconds)
Processing Software: DeepSkyStacker, Photoshop CC
Support Files: 15 dark frames

Observing the Western Veil Nebula

Portable power box for mountThis nebula is a supernova remnant that was produced over 5000 years ago.  It is a portion of the Cygnus Loop, which contains the Eastern Veil Nebula, and more wispy emission nebulosity. This is definitely one of my favorite nebulas to observe visually. Under the right conditions, you can follow the tendrils from end to end.

A telescope with a large aperture is needed, and an OIII filter will help.  The Western Veil Nebula contains a naked-eye star known as 52 Cygni, which will help you locate the nebula with your telescope.

Below, you will see my photo of the Eastern Veil Nebula nearby.  My telescope could not fit both objects in the same field of view.

Compare to the Eastern Veil Nebula (NGC 6992)

Eastern Veil Nebula

NGC 6992 – Part of the Cygnus Loop

Image Processing

This image of the Western Veil Nebula was photographed from a friends house out in the country with darker skies than I am used to from the backyard. The toughest part about processing this image of the Western Veil Nebula was reducing the brightness of the stars that surround the nebula. NGC 6960 is located in a very dense area of the Cygnus constellation.

Western Veil Nebula

An unprocessed single 4 minute frame of NGC 6960

Because the surface brightness of the Veil is relatively low, you must stretch the data in the nebulosity to create the contrast between it and the starry background. I use the “make stars smaller” action found in Noel Carboni’s Astronomy Tools Action Set, and ran the image through multiple iterations of this command.

It is helpful to mask the nebula while performing this action so you do not lose detail in the object itself.

Learn more about Deep Sky Image Processing in Photoshop