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Sadr Region in Cygnus – DSLR Astrophotography

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The Sadr Region in Cygnus rises high overhead in midsummer, making it the perfect astrophotography target for your DSLR camera.  The photo below shows the extensive amount of emission nebulosity surrounding the star Sadr (Gamma Cygni), the center of the “cross” in Cygnus.


Sadr Region in Cygnus

Sadr Region using a DSLR and Telescope

Sadr Region in Cygnus

Backyard astrophotography notes…


I combined the data I captured last weekend with another 3 hours worth taken on Friday, August 21st from my backyard in St. Catharines. It was a refreshingly cool summer night, and the stars seemed to be a little brighter from what must have been a better level of “transparency” due to a lack of moisture in the air. (No dew on the telescope all night!) Because Cygnus is now directly overhead for the majority of the night, I am able to set everything up on the porch, rather than the middle of the lawn. I could get used to that!

IC 1318 – 58 light frames in total

There is some very interesting nebulosity surrounding the star, Gamma Cygni. Sadr, the stars traditional name, has 12 times the mass of our Sun and about 150 times our Sun’s radius!  What a monster! What a supergiant! IC 1318 is considered to be the diffuse emission nebula surrounding Sadr, or Gamma Cygni.

The telescope used to capture the Sadr Region image above:

Explore Scientific ED80

Explore Scientific ED80 Refractor

I think that this image turned out okay. I had some issues with framing, and I may have chewed up the stars a little too much in processing. I will often trade more detail in the nebulae for smaller, crunchier stars. I just try to view the image as a whole, and not judge it to critically while zoomed in. I feel that with better equipment, I may be able to achieve better results.

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Update: Wide Field Image

Sadr Region

Wide Field Image using iOptron SkyGuider Pro.

The image above was captured in July 2017 using a Canon Xsi/450D and a Canon EF 300mm F/4L lens. The camera was mounted to an iOptron SkyGuider Pro mount to track the night sky. In 2018, I again revisited the Sadr region, this time focusing on the bright emission nebula, IC1318. The photo below was captured using a Canon EOS Rebel T3i DSLR camera through the William Optics Zenithstar 73 APO.

Butterfly Nebula in Ha

Sadr and the Butterfly Nebula in Ha – William Optics Zenithstar 73 APO

Summer Imaging Comes to a Close

When I think of astrophotography in the summer, I think of the all of the gorgeous nebulae and stars in Sagittarius and Scorpius. The Southern treats that only stay up long enough to image for 3 short months. Being late August, those days are already gone. I won’t visit the Lagoon Nebula, Trifid and Eagle Nebula again until next spring.

Late August also shows us a preview of what the Fall and Winter constellations await us in the early morning hours. I watched the mighty Orion rise from my driveway at 4:00am. The shifting of the constellations in our night sky is a beautiful way to witness the seasons change.

Canon DSLR astrophotography

Time for an upgrade?

My current astrophotography camera (Canon Xsi/450D) has been through countless outdoor all-nighters. I fear that the shutter actuation count is very high, (I’ll check eventually) and that a “shutter-explosion” is imminent. Not to mention the constant manual cleaning of the sensor, and the fact that I took the entire thing apart to modify it!

I plan to look into an entry level CMOS astronomy camera soon and to transition away from my aging Canon.


Sadr Region (IC 1318) – Photo Details

Imaged from my light-polluted backyard in St. Catharines, Ontario
Taken over 2 nights, Sat. Aug 15th, Fri. Aug 21st, 2015
Telescope: Explore Scientific ED80 with WO Flat III 0.8x FR/FF
Mount: Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro Synscan
Guiding: Meade DSI Pro II and PHD Guiding
Guide Scope: Orion Mini 50mm
Camera: Canon EOS 450D (Modified)
ISO: 1600
Total Exposure: 3 Hours, 52 Minutes (58 x 240 seconds)
Processing Software: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop CC
Support Files: 30 darks


IC 1318 – The Butterfly Nebula

Just below Sadr, lies IC 1318, the Butterfly Nebula. Although it may look like two nebulae, it is actually cataloged as one, with a central dark dust lane running through it. The nebulae on each side are the butterfly’s wings.

The following image was captured using a William Optics FLT 132 refractor, and a ZWO ASI294MC-Pro CMOS camera. An STC Astro Duo-Narrowband filter (Ha + OIII) was used to isolate the intense hydrogen and oxygen gas that this nebula is comprised of.

IC 1318 - The Butterfly Nebula

IC 1318 – The Butterfly Nebula

This photo includes just over 6 hours worth of total integrated exposure time from my backyard in the city.

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Sadr Star – Intersection of the Northern Cross

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Photographing the Sadr Star in Cygnus

If you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed that I was poking around in the middle of the constellation Cygnus last weekend, specifically centered on to the extremely bright Sadr star. I really wanted to post a really snazzy wide field photo of this region on this blog, but I was unhappy with my results.

I set my mount and telescope up for imaging in the South, at the far edge of my backyard. This spot was a poor location for shooting straight up overhead at the constellation Cygnus for me, as I ran into trees by 1:30am. The result, only 1 hour of total exposure on a hot night. Even the stacked final image including 15 dark frames was noisy after stretching! 

I was already sad about the trees, but after seeing my noisy photo, I was Sadr. (anyone?) Clearly, I need more time on it.

The night was not a complete waste. Aside from the mosquito bites and the ever constant worry from my neighbours “what is he doing out there!?”, I was able to snap this neat little photo of the Summer Triangle. The stars that make up this giant asterism are Altair, Vega and Deneb. For this shot, I used my Canon 70D and 17-40mm lens, riding on the Sky-Watcher mount.  15 – 40 second shots were stacked together for the final image.

The Summer Triangle

The Summer Triangle


Tonight’s the Night – Gamma Cygni

Location of the Sadr Star

With the almost first-quarter moon setting tonight around midnight, and clear, cool skies in the forecast for the Niagara region, it looks like I am set for round 2 tonight. Tomorrow night looks clear as well, will this be the weekend of the Sadr Star? That might be the nerdiest thing I have ever said.  That’s not true.

Tonight, I will position the mount for an all-night-long session in Cygnus. My plan is to frame Gamma Cygni directly in the centre. From the other images of this area, it looks like I should pick up a lot of nebulosity throughout the frame.

My 30-day trial of Backyard EOS is still in effect, so I am happy to use it’s handy imaging features for another free night before shelling out the $50 US for the full version. A fair price for this impressive software. See the star map to the left for an idea of where I will be shooting tonight. If all goes well, my next post will be a portrait of the intersection of the Northern Cross.


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