Capturing the Dumbbell Nebula through a Telescope

The Dumbbell nebula, also known as AppleCore nebula or Messier 27 or NGC6853 is a popular beginners astrophotography target.

Dumbell Nebula 3h30mins stacked 


With an apparent magnitude of 7.2 and distance of just 1300 light years us, it generously allows you to capture enough detail with very short exposures.

I recently captured the dumbbell nebula on a 98% moon night, which means that the sky was illuminated with a lot of the moon’s glow along with lots of light pollution.

I started my imaging sequence at about 12:30am since I wanted to ensure it was high enough on the horizon and ran my sequence till 5am, practically till the break of dawn.

My guiding worked great and I captured 3minute subs to gather enough details. Needless to say, I captured a lot of noise, but I had enough subs even after I discarded several subs. I kept my ISO really low given how much light pollution I already have plus the sky being too bright with the moon. That predictably captured lesser detail, but helped in keeping the noise down.

Here is what a single 3minute unprocessed sub frame looked like. You can faintly see the nebula, but good enough to verify framing, guiding and starting your image sequence.

Dumbell Nebula single 3minute ISO100 sub

I stacked these on DeepSkyStacker with no darks, flats or bias frames and got this final stacked image.

Dumbbell Nebula (m27) 3h30mins unprocessed stacked image


I then processed it with photoshop to crop, remove noise and bringing out details by doing levels and curves adjustments to arrive at my final image. Considering I had imaged this object long ago, I see a big difference especially with my stars and with structural details.

Here is my final image.

Enter Dumbell Nebula — Stacked, Processed final image — 210minutes @ ISO100a caption

Total Exposure : 210 minutes (3h30)

Light frames : 70 * 180s

ISO : 100

Filters : None

Capture tool : AstroPhotographyTool

Camera : Canon Rebel T3i

Guide Cam : ZWO 120ASIMC-S

Mount : Celestron AVX GEQ

Scope : Explore Scientific ED102CF

I will be sure to pour a lot more data into this object. I am yet to image a single object over multiple nights. I will be sure to, very soon 🙂

You can view more of my images on my instagram page, Backyardstarman.

Clear Skies!

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