One undeservedly neglected active star-forming region in the constellation Puppis is NGC 2467 or also known as Skull and Crossbones Nebula. I chose the beautiful, but at the same time ominous-looking object as my longest exposure robotic telescope shot because it is a relatively unknown object even for astrophotographers due to its unpopularity. The source of the name Skull and Crossbones Nebula is clearly given by a structure reminiscent of a grinning skull, but many also discover a colorful mandrill face in it. When I came across this object I was greeted with quite mixed emotions, since I also saw the skull in it, but I also thought a lot about why we humans still distance ourselves from such a stunning object just because of its appearance? Are we really just neglecting this otherwise unparalleled variety of emission nebula just because of its appearance?
One of the most significant object in the nebula is an O6-type 9.5 magnitude star (HD 64315), which is responsible for ionizing the area of the imaginary oral cavity. The scary celestial portrait features a variety of young star clusters, dust and gas nebulae moving at different speeds, whose gravitational bond holds together the now active star-forming region. The two largest star clusters in the nebula is the Haffner 18, which provides the nasal cavity of the skull, and Haffner 19, which is at the site of the right orbit, are also said to interact more closely. An interesting phenomenon is the ionization of the immediate vicinity of the 11.9 magnitude Wray 15-101.
To the best of my knowledge, only two Hungarian-related photographs have been taken of the variegated star-forming region of Puppis. Analyzing the international photographs available on the Internet, I decided that based on the composition of the nebula, it is not worth capturing in the usual way, instead I make the shot unique using the so-called Hubble Palette method developed for narrowband photographs of the Hubble Space Telescope. Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to work with filters that transmit ionized light from hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur, and a professional camera, so I rented one of the most popular astrographs on the Chilescope robotic telescope network. Due to the low declination of the nebula, it is easier to photograph from a location in the southern hemisphere, but it is also worth knowing that it would not be an impossible task to capture Hungary either. Unfortunately, despite the carefully chosen Chilean location and professional equipment, the veil clouds appeared several times, so it took more than half a year to gather the final material.
For the final photo, it was also inevitable to process the image with traditional (LRGB) filters, which was also used to a small extent in the processing due to the enrichment of details and color scheme. The traditional color world was also needed because of the stars, as in narrow-band shots, the color of several stars is magenta, which does not correspond to reality. In spite of the “artistic freedom” of SHO-type image processing, which can be displayed correctly from an astrophysical point of view, it is worth paying attention to. If we look at this scary named object from another perspective, we can see the miracle of birth, not one of the symbols of human transience.
Skull and Crossbones Nebula, NGC 2467
R.A. 12 h 22 m 54 s Dec. +15° 49′ 21″
65' x 38'
17/03/2019 - 01/12/2019
Total exposure time:
Chilescope - El Sauce Observatory, Río Hurtado, Chile
FLI ProLine 16803
ASA 500/1900 mm Astrograph
ASA 4" Wynne Corrector
Focal ratio, length:
f/3.8, 1900 mm
5 x 1200 s Ha, 5 x 1200 s OIII, 4 x 1200 s SII, 21 x 600 s Lum,
Astro Pixel Processor, PixInsight, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop