North America Nebula and Pelican Nebula

The North America Nebula is an emission nebula in the constellation Cygnus. It resembles the North America continent with both a Florida-like peninsula and a Gulf of Mexico. It’s a fairly bright object with a magnitude of +4.0 making it an easy object to photograph with a telephoto lens. This image was captured with a Nikon 180mm AIS ƒ/2.8 telephoto.

Adjacent to the North America Nebula is the Pelican Nebula separated by a molecular cloud filled with dark dust.

North America Nebula and Pelican Nebula
North America Nebula and Pelican Nebula
Annotated image of North America Nebula and Pelican Nebula
Annotated image of North America Nebula and Pelican Nebula

Images were stacked using Starry Sky Stacker. The stack was histogram stretched using rnc_color_stretch. The final bit of work was done using the Astronomy Tools actions for Photoshop.

Photographing the North America Nebula

The North America Nebula has been on my To-Photograph list for a while. I had made one quick attempt previously to see whether I could actually resolve it with my Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens. That was successful so I was ready to try again when the situation permitted.

I finally found the time, the right weather, and the right conditions. I shot a sequence of seven, 120-second exposures.

There are many star-stacking software packages available and I’ve often used DeepSkyStacker (DSS). More recently I’ve been testing StarrySkyStacker (a macOS-only app). The results have been pretty good.

The stacking complete, it was time to work on the histogram. Again, there are many histogram stretching packages. I’ve been evaluating rnc-color-stretch, available from Clarkvision.com. rnc-color-stretch is a set of scripts that calls the davinci application (not to be confused with the DaVinci Resolve video editing software).

North America Nebula (NGC 7000)
North America Nebula (NGC 7000)

The result is shown above. My next attempt at shooting this Deep-Sky Object (DSO) will be with my recently acquired Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 AIS manual focus lens.