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Cosmic Challenge: The Elephants Trunk

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#1 PhilH


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Posted 01 October 2021 - 05:11 AM

Take a look at just about any star atlas and you will find a huge, irregular cloud of ionized hydrogen suspended to the south of Mu (μ) Cephei, Herschel's Garnet Star. That's IC 1396, one of the largest nebulae in the night sky. Even from a distance of about 2,450 light years, this complex cocktail of bright glowing gas mixed with dark dust clouds spans 3° of our sky. At that distance, 3° translates to a linear diameter of nearly 160 light years, more than three times greater than the Orion Nebula, M42.

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#2 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 02 October 2021 - 11:19 PM

I observed the Elephant's Trunk Nebula in 2005 using a 30" Tectron Dob at New Mexico Skies and again in 2006 using a 14.5" Starmaster Dob at one of the best "local" dark sites.

This deep-sky object wasn't nearly as impressive looking through the 14.5" Starmaster as it had been through the 30" Tectron but I could certainly discern its namesake shape.

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#3 David Knisely

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 10:41 PM

I have seen the faint glow of the IC 1396 complex In my 100mm f/6 refractor with the Lumicon UHC filter, and noted some of the vague dark inclusions and a vague irregular lane or two when using that narrow-band nebula filter in my 9.25 inch SCT at 59x, but identifying even exactly where the actual Elephant's trunk is located is difficult.  The dark inclusion into the northern part of the nebula and another into the south edge are much more prominent than the smaller western one which has the Elephant's trunk off its eastern end, but it is worth a scan.  If it ever clears up here, I may have to go back after this one in my 14 inch Dob to see what can be seen.  Clear skies to you. 

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#4 jgmoxness


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Posted 10 October 2021 - 10:51 PM

The Elephant Trunk definitely takes some work. Here is my recent attempt in HHOO

Elephant Trunk 2021 09 16 HHOO asin10 DBE SCNR Edit

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#5 caseyfinn


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Posted 11 October 2021 - 10:15 PM

I kinda gave up observing from my light polluted backyard but my camera/cdk resolves plenty. I’ve been working on this for a while now, just finished the O3 capture but lacks processing. Ha here, details in link below:

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#6 Matt Lindsey

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Posted 13 October 2021 - 01:52 PM

I finally got a good look at this whole complex a couple of years ago in my 16" scope with UHC filter and 31mm eyepiece.  It's one of the tougher RASC challenge objects.  A tough one to sketch with so many dark patches interspersed throughout the field.  Thanks Phil for the helpful pointers on viewing this nebula.



Edited by Matt Lindsey, 13 October 2021 - 01:52 PM.

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#7 Dupree



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Posted 16 October 2021 - 04:12 PM

I got interested in this object in late summer and managed to get 3 hours of light frames before I got socked in by clouds. This was taken at new moon from a Bortle 7 suburban backyard using a light pollution filter during the image capture process. Like all astrophotographers, I wish could have captured more light frames.  Oh well, next year.



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