IC 1805 The Heart Nebula

IC1805 The Heart Nebula Click here for an annotated version of this target.

This is IC 1805, also known as the Heart Nebula. This is a large nebula about 7500 light-years away from us.

The nebula shines bright red due to all the hydrogen gas excited by the nearby stars. The center of the nebula has a cluster of stars that contribute to this as well. The other significant part of this nebula is NGC896, also known as the Fish Head Nebula.

I captured this early October in incredible light-polluted skies in my apartment complex. Bonus smoke from the nearby railyard!

Processing Details

I took the 33 frames at 300 seconds each and stacked them using WBPP in PixInishgt. I also integrated 50 dark, 50 flats, and 50 dark flats into this image as well.

The following processes were performed in PixInsight:

  • Dynamic Background Extraction
  • Photometric Color Calibration
  • MultiScale Linear Transform X2 on Luminance and Chrominance
  • Histogram Transformation
  • LRGBCombination
  • SCNR
  • Curves Transformation (X2 with a range mask. Inverted mask for the background and then non inverted for the target)
  • Color Saturation
  • Curves Transformation (X2 with a second range mask. Inverted mask for the background and then non inverted for the target)
  • Morphological Transformation (Generated StarMask using default settings)
  • Local Histogram Equalization (Performed with a range mask)

Once I found what I liked, I saved the files and went to Photoshop. I played around with the levels, vibrance, and saturation a bit. I then ran Topaz AI DeNoise. This is an amazing plugin that works like magic.

With this target, I also tried something new. I made a time-lapse of the stacking and processing flow. I may try and do more of these.

If anyone is curious, here are the full-res versions of the images.


The area of the sky in CassiopeiaHere you can see the area of the sky in Cassiopeia imaged.

Acquisition Data

  • Telescope: Explore Scientific ED127 f7.5 Air-Spaced Triplet Apochromatic Refractor
  • Camera: ASI2600MC Pro
  • Guide Scope: Orion ST80
  • Guide Camera: ASI290MM Mini. Dithering every image at 1 pixel each time.
  • Mount: iOptron CEM60
  • Software: NINA for image acquisition. PixInsight is used for stacking and editing. Imported to Photoshop for final touchup and watermarking.
  • Other Accessories: AstroZap Dew Heater, Starizona ApexED 0.65 Focal Reducer/Field Flattener, MoonLite CFL 2.5″ Focuser w/ High Res Stepper Motor & V3 Controller, Pegasus Astro Power Box Advance
  • Filters: Optolong L-eNhance 2″
  • Exposure Time: 2 hour 45 minutes (33 x 300 seconds) -20°C.
  • Exposure Start: 22:24
  • Date: October 8, 2020
  • Location: Raritan, NJ, United States
  • Temperature: 43°F/6°C
  • Bortle Dark-Sky Scale: 8
  • Astrometry.net job: 3929706
  • Avg. Moon age: 20.72 Days
  • Avg. Moon phase: 65.01%
  • RA center: 2h 32′ 35″
  • DEC center: +61° 27′ 38″
  • Orientation: 325.093 degrees
  • Field radius: 1.297 degrees
  • Magnitude: 6.50
  • Resolution: 3556 x 2330