Explore Messier 16

Messier 16

Click here for an annotated version of this target.

M16 also known as the Eagle Nebula is one of the most distinctive targets on the Messier Catalog. M16 is a reflection/emission nebula and a star cluster. The Eagle refers to the dark area in the center of the nebula. This area was made famous by the "Pillars of Creation" imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. There are several active star-forming regions in this nebula.

M16 is about 5700 light-years away and lies in the constellation of Serpens.

I took this image over two nights. The first night I took 18 frames at 300 seconds and the second night I took another 26 at 300 seconds. I used the Optolong L-Pro filter the first night. I was intending to use the same filter the second night, however, as I was testing back focus with the L-eNhance before starting my sequence I forgot that I left that in. I'm sure I could have had some "brighter" data with the L-Pro filter, however, I'm still happy with my results.

I was impressed by how much noise is reduced from just having more data. I think even the star field and color depth is enhanced with just two extra hours of data. This was a great learning experience for me.

Messier 16 The Eagle Nebula
This is why we stack. Left we have 18 x 300 seconds, right we have 44 x 300 seconds.
Noise reduction is the biggest advantage of more data.

Processing Info

I stacked the 44 light frames along with 40 dark and 50 flat frames in PixInsight

The following processes were performed in PixInsight:

Once I found what I liked, I saved the files and went to Photoshop and ran Topaz AI DeNoise. This is an amazing plugin that works like magic.

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

The area of the sky in Serpens
Here you can see the area of the sky in Serpens imaged.

Acquisition Data