Eagle Nebula M16

This is the Eagle Nebula M16. Around the center of the image, we have a cluster of stars surrounded by the large cloud of glowing red ionised gas that formed them. The cloud contains some striking structures, particularly, columns, sometimes called “elephant trunks”. You may recognise some of them from the very famous image from the Hubble space telescope, called “The Pillars of Creation”.

“The Pillars of Creation” photographed by the Hubble space telescope (NASA). This image uses the “Hubble palette” which maps sulphur to red, hydrogen to green, and oxygen to blue. It is therefore a “false color” image, which is why it doesn’t look as red as my image above.

This is a tough target for me. It’s very low in the sky, and only clears the top of my neighbours’ roof for about two weeks every year. For the last couple of years, I missed it due to cloud. This year, I could only get 1.5 h on it in total. I’ve done my best in the processing, but the lack of integration time shows.

YouTube “short”

This “short” on YouTube shows the stages of processing, which was almost completely carried out in my astrophotography processing software, Hera.

Hera Processing

Hera has been steadily becoming more “mature” with almost the full suite of tools required to complete processing within the software. I have recently added the major tools, star masking and morphological transformation (which can be used for star reduction), as well as the more basic tools like color saturation and mask merging.

Before the software is publicly released, I still at the minimum want to add:

  • Contrast limited adaptive histogram equalization (CLAHE)
  • Range masking based on colors and channels
  • Undo/redo functionality
  • The option to stop long calculations
  • Licensing!

Image details


  • 36× 150-s light frames (Gain 900) from 40 overall (best 90%)
  • 1 h 30 min total integrated exposure time from 1 h 40 min overall (best 90%)
  • Full use of calibration frames (darks, flats, dark flats)


  • Explore Scientific ED 102 mm Apo f/7 refractor
  • Revelation Adjustable Field Flattener
  • Sky-Watcher EQ6-R PRO SynScan GOTO equatorial mount
  • Altair Hypercam 294C PRO colour fan-cooled camera
  • Altair quad-band one-shot colour (OSC) 2″ filter
  • Pegasus FocusCube v2
  • Altair 60mm guide scope
  • Altair GPCAM2 AR0130 mono guide camera
  • Hystou Rugged Fanless Mini PC i5 7260U


  • SharpCap 4.0
  • PHD2
  • DeepSkyStacker
  • Hera 0.3
  • Local Contrast Enhancement from Astronomy Actions Tools
  • Topaz DeNoise AI Low Light for sharpening

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