An Eagle just in time for the 4th of July

The new moon ahead of the 4th of July is a great time to start imaging Messier 16, known as the Eagle Nebula. A portion of this nebula was made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope‘s image of the Pillars of Creation which they imaged in spectra associated with Hydrogen, Sulphur and Oxygen. The “Hubble” pallet maps Sulphur to red, Hydrogen to green and Oxygen to blue. In reality the light emitted by sulphur is a dark red, hydrogen a brighter but still dark red, and oxygen pretty close to teal. I collected 7,000 year old photons on June 18 and 19 from my urban backyard in Allen, Texas deep within the Bortle 8/9 zone which is about the worst light pollution you can get. I captured this on my 8″ Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with a dedicated astronomy camera using a filter specifically designed to help mitigate the worst of the light pollution.

Unfortunately as more LED street lighting is adopted the worse the pollution gets. There are LED lamp products on the market that help mitigate the polluting spectra from street and sign illumination but getting a city to adopt them is difficult at best. This site does a good job of explaining the hows and whys of LED light pollution and how some products can help minimize the awfulness of LED lights.

Without further delay, the Eagle Nebula in “natural” color.