the Carina Nebula And the Nova Carinae 2018  (Robotic)

Main Objects: NGC 3372, NGC 3324, NGC 3293, ASASSN-18fv

The surprises of the southern sky


This is my first photograph capturing a celestial wonder that cannot be seen from Hungary. Before I would write about the object, I think I should clarify how I was able to photograph it.

I already stated in the parentheses that the photograph was created with a robotic telescope - just like the photograph about the NGC 6946 and its supernova. In this case, I bought a little more than an hour and a half usage right from the remote usage time of the T8 telescope in Australia, belonging to the iTelescope network. As one of my biggest dreams is to photograph the southern sky, renting a robotic telescope is a convenient solution in my current situation.

I chose the Carina Nebula for two reasons: it is a beautifully structured, bright star-forming region (similarly to the Orion Nebula in the northern hemisphere), and there is also an interesting current detail regarding the nebula. The title of the image is telling: Nova Carinae 2018. “Nova” means new in Latin, while “Carinae” is the genitive of the name of the Carina constellation, so the picture depicts the new star, or nova, of the Carina constellation, formed in 2018. Its official, imaginative name is ASASSN-18fv.

The nova exploded in our Milky Way and was discovered by the nova-searching program of the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae on March 20th, 2018. During the creation of my photograph, the nova stagnated around 6.5 apparent magnitude, which is quite compelling next to such a famous nebula.

Regarding the famous nebula it is worth to tell, that it is one of the three stellar nurseries which can be detected from Earth. The Carina Nebula gives home to many large stars. The nebula is known by several names: Eta Carinae Nebula, Caldwell 92, NGC 3372. It was officially discovered by the great French scientist Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille who conducted researches of the southern sky and examined this diffuse object in 1752.

Because of its size, it is divided into many smaller nebulas; the largest of them is the Keyhole Nebula. The nebula itself is a cloud consisting of dust and gases, spreading across the Milky Way on 1,900 billion kilometers. It is one of the most active regions of the Milky Way. Its first stars are approximately 3 billion years old and were formed by the condensation of a cold molecular cloud.

This nebular mass includes the Eta-Carinae, a star that is a hundred times heavier than the Sun and is 7,500 light years from us. Its luminosity is not static, as it happened several times that it became brighter due to eruptions. During its great eruption in the middle of the 19th century, it was the second brightest star on the sky. At the time of making the photograph, its luminosity was approximately an apparent magnitude of 4.4. Scientist think that the dying star will become a supernova in a few million years.

Wandering to the upper right corner of the image, we can detect the NGC 3324 emission nebula and open cluster. This is also a star-forming region. The shape of the nebula was formed by its young, hot stars.

Finally, let’s mention one of the most beautiful objects, the NGC 3293, which, I think, adds much to the aesthetic value of the photograph. The bright stars of the emission nebula can be detected between veil-like blue reflection nebulas and red emission nebulas. If the opportunity arises, I would like to capture this object in itself by any means.

To create the photograph, I used monochrome and color-filtered images. Also, for the first time, I used narrowband filters. With these, I was able to improve the visibility of the nebula even more. These filters show the ionized-air glow of hydrogen, oxygen and sulphur better than usual photography.


Carina Nebula, Eta Carinae Nebula, NGC 3372




R.A. 10 h 45 m 08 s Dec. -59° 52′ 04″


Emission Nebula


6,500 - 10,000 light-years



Apparent size:



230 light-years


Winter and spring (only Southern Hemisphere)


24/03/2018; 26/03/2018; 28/03/2018

Total exposure time:

1.7 hour


iTelescope - T8, Siding Spring Observatory, Australia


FLI Microline 16803


Takahashi FSQ ED 106/530 mm


Paramount PME





Focal ratio, length:

f/5, 530 mm




3 x 300 s R, G, B, 5 x 300 s Lum, 1 x 600 s Ha, OIII, SII








PixInsight, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop



Carina Nebula


The narrowband image was made with a filter permeable to the ionized-air glow of hydrogen, oxygen and sulphur; with the so-called “Hubble Palette” method. 


28/03/2018; 03/04/2018
Total exposure time: 90 minutes
(3x600 s Ha, 3x600 s OIII, 3x600 s SII)

Processed in: PixInsight, Adobe PS, LR.

Nova Carinae 2018


I placed the marking of the Nova Carinae 2018 (ASASSN-18fv) on a separate photograph, so it would not get lost in the congestion of traditional subtitling.