The constellation Cygnus ("The Swan") is prominent during summer evenings.  The brightest star in Cygnus is named Deneb, and it is one of the members of the so-called "Summer Triangle," consisting of Deneb, Vega (in the constellation Lyra) and Altair (in the constellation Acquila).  Cygnus is located along the Milky Way.  The north half of Cygnus is shown in the next image.

Figure 1.  Northern half of Cygnus.  Deneb is at the upper-left end of the constellation lines.  During the exposure a meteor went speeding downward, to the left of Deneb, through the middle of a reddish nebulosity called the North America Nebula.  [Nikon F3 camera with a 50 mm f/1.8 lens, attached to a Meade LX-200 10-inch telescope for tracking and hand guiding adjustments, 40-second exposure, cut short when I noticed the meteor in the guiding 'scope, Fujicolor Professional 400 NPH pushed to 800, May 23, 0020 PST, 3200-foot altitude observing site beside the East Camino Cielo Road, north of Santa Barbara].

Figure 2.  Zoom factor of 2.6, with the North America Nebula at the center, and Deneb to its right.  The color balance of this image is fairly accurate.  [Nikon F3 with a 105 mm f/4.5 lens, mounted to a Meade LX-200 10-inch telescope for tracking and hand guiding adjustments, average of two 6-minute exposures, Fujicolor Professional 400 NPH film pushed to ISO 800, May 23, 0040 PST, observing site along the East Camino Cielo Road, 3200 foot altitude, near Santa Barbara].


Figure 3.  Zoom factor of 1.8, using entirely different equipment and modest color contrast.  A SBIG ST-8XE CCD imager (B&W) was used with a Nikor 105 mm telephoto lens, f/8, to obtain B&W images with red, green and blue filters placed in front of the telephoto lens.  An unfiltered image was also taken to provide a "luminance" image.  Exposure times for R, G, B and L are 3, 4, 21 and 16 minutes.  The unfiltered luminance image was processed using a "digital development" algorithm.  The CCD/telephoto lens system was mounted to a Meade LX200 10-inch SCT telescope for guiding.  The RGBL images were combined using MaxImDL. [Nikor telephoto lens set to 105 mm FL, f/8, SBIG ST-8XE B&W CCD imager, RVB photometry filters, guided by Meade LX200 10-inch SCT, residential site at 4650 feet ASL near Sierra Vista, AZ , 2002.12.08 UT]

Figure 3.  Only modest zoom, but returning to film equipment for a very high contrast color balance.  Average of 8 photos, totaling 48 minutes of exposure.  Serious vignetting has not been corrected. [Nikon F3, 400mm FL, f/5.6, Fujicolor Superia Xtra 800, mounted to LX-200 for hand guiding, residential site at 200 feet ASL, 2001.06.27&28.]

The following is an advanced amateur's version of this object:

Figure 3.  Jason Ware, a well-known amateur astrophotographer, took this picture of the North America Nebula (probably using a refractor telescope).  The nebulosity "off the East Coast" is the much fainter Pelican Nebula."  The brightness contrast must have been increased by an extreme amount to achieve the dramatic effect.


This site opened:  May 23, 2001 Last Update:  December 7, 2002