A ghost in Virgo: Planetary nebula Abell 36
Published 28 June 2020

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Larger size jpg images available here: 1920x1252 Full size: Full Resolution

About this object

Abell 36 is a bipolar planetary nebula in the constellation Virgo. It's extremely dim with an apparent magnitude of 12-14 spread over a 12x6 arcmin area of sky. The central star is magnitude 11.5 and is extremely hot (73,000 deg K). According to multiples sources, Abell 36 is thought to be around 780 light years distant and its age is estimated to be between 5000-8000 years. Most images I was able to see on-line (~25) where taken with large amateur or professional telescopes of 12" or larger in dark skies. The faintness of this planetary nebula made it a challenge to image from my relatively bright suburban sky and I ended up having to shoot 54.2 hrs of exposures from the end of February to May 2020. See below for the exposure times through the individual filters. Sprinkled with the field of view are many small galaxies. See this annotated version showing the positions and designations of the other galaxies.
Image Details

  • Optics : Stellarvue SVX 152 refractor @f8 1200mm FL
  • Mount: Paramount MYT
  • Camera: QSI 683
  • Filters: Astrodon Gen II
  • Exposure (min): LRGBHaOIII: 390:516:403:407:858:678. Total 54.2 hrs
  • Camera/Mount Control: The Sky X, CCD Auto Pilot 5
  • Guiding: StarlightXpress Lodestar X2
  • Processing: PixInsight 1.8,
  • Location: Stark Bayou Observatory, Ocean Springs, MS
  • Sky: Typical SQM 19.6-20.0, Bortle 5, Suburban
  • Date: 29 Feb-13 May 2020
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