Astrophotographer Captures 68 Hour-Long Exposure on a Single Target

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Every amateur astrophotographer knows that the key to a sensational image is to capture as much exposure time on your target as possible.

Reddit user ColorsOfCosmos took that idea to the extreme by collecting a staggering 68 hours of total exposure time on Wolf-Rayet 134. 

The resulting portrait of this cosmic bubble in Cygnus is one of the most detailed, and beautifully processed versions of this object I have ever seen.

If you’re guilty of switching targets a little too quickly (like me), this image is a reminder of what’s possible when you dedicate your efforts to a single project. 

Close up of Wolf-Rayet 134 (WR 134) – 68 hours with 2 telescopes
byu/ColorsOfCosmos inastrophotography

Wolf-Rayet Stars

Discovered by astronomers Charles Wolf and Georges Rayet, a Wolf-Rayet (WR) star is in the advanced stages of stellar evolution. They are typically very hot and massive, with temperatures ranging between 30,000 to 200,000 Kelvin.

One of the defining features of a WR star is the high rate of mass loss caused by strong stellar winds that can reach speeds of thousands of kilometers per second.

There are two main types of Wolf-Rayet stars based on their spectral features: WN stars (dominated by nitrogen lines) and WC stars (dominated by carbon and oxygen lines).

I have captured several deep-sky objects that include Wolf-Rayet stars from my backyard in the past, including my own (much shorter) version of Wolf-Rayet 134.  

Wolf-Rayet 134

Together with WR 137 and WR 135, WR 134 is a variable Wolf-Rayet star located in the constellation Cygnus. These were the first members of the star class that came to be known as Wolf-Rayet (WR) stars. 

WR 134 is located approximately 6,000 light years away from Earth and is a member of the nitrogen sequence of WR stars.

You will notice that it is surrounded by a bubble-looking nebula, this is the result of intense radiation and high winds from the star.

If you haven’t tried photographing a Wolf-Rayet star with associated nebulae before, WR 134 is one of the most gratifying targets to go after. 

Astrophotography Equipment Used 

Reddit user ColorsOfCosmos mentions using two different telescopes to capture their image of Wolf-Rayet 134. By doubling your imaging systems, you can really maximize the amount of light you collect each night. 

  • Telescope #1: GSO 10″ Ritchey-Chretien Astrograph Telescope (OIII channel)
  • Telescope #2: GSO 8″ Ritchey-Chretien Astrograph Telescope (remaining channels)
  • Mounts: Losmandy G11 with OnStep Controller (x2)
  • Cameras: ToupTek IMX571 (x2)
  • Capture Software: CCDCiel + PHD2 on Orange Pi5
  • Processing Software: PixInsight

It is refreshing to see some different equipment being used to create an amazing astrophoto. This is a completely different-looking deep-sky imaging kit than I am used to using in the backyard.

The use of dual Ritchey-Chretien astrographs certainly helped soak up the photons for this project, especially in that crucial OIII wavelength. 

Once again, the amateur astrophotography community has inspired me to push the limits of my own efforts. My personal total integrated exposure time record is 20 hours!


 

Trevor Jones is a deep-sky astrophotographer and a valued member of the RASC. His passion is to inspire others to start their astrophotography journey on his YouTube Channel, so they can appreciate the night sky as much as he does. His images have been featured in astronomy books, and online publications including the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD).

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