Iris Nebula Collaboration

The votes are in- astrophotographers love dust! Not the kind of dust that causes donuts, but clouds of cosmic dust!

In this collaboration of over 100-hours of data, we asked for your opinion on which image you liked best. We found that the more emphasis that was placed on the cosmic dust, the more popular the image. You'll see in the voting results that as each image progressively emphasizes the cosmic dust around the Iris, the more votes that image received. Each of us had the same data to work with, but we all had different artistic and technical approaches. These are all images that anyone would be proud to share. 

We have a short video on how this project came about. We also discuss our different approaches to the data, along with how our initial results influenced each other to further tweak the final versions. We think you'll find it interesting. 


On to the next collaboration!



Seven data sets were  acquired with various telescopes (refractors, reflectors, and SCTs) and cameras (mono and OSC) and combined for a total of 129-hours exposure time. Low-resolution masters (1.16 arcseconds per pixel) and high-resolution masters (0.49 arcseconds per pixel) were created separately during preprocessing, with the same steps for both.

  1. Each contributor produced masters for their data set(s) using the WeightedBatchPreprocessing Script.

  2. Masters were rotated to the same orientation, and common areas were selected with previews. Previews were cloned and saved and then aligned to each other with StarAlignment using Thin-plate Splines and Distortion Correction with Local Distortion checked.

  3. A SuperLuminance image was made using ImageIntegration to combine all of the individual registered images.

  4. ImageIntegration was used to combine all of the red masters, then all the green masters, and finally, the blue masters. ChannelCombination was used to produce a color master from the red, green, and blue masters.


Each contributor used the masters, the source files, or any combination thereof to produce the images shared in the poll.

Poll results.png

Click on any of the images below to view a larger version.

Voter quote - "I prefer image one. To me it seems more true to the subject and gives a good context without the distraction of the surrounding nebulosity detracting from the impact of the nebula."

Image 1.jpg

Image 1- Warren Keller

Voter quote - "Looks the most like it was captured & processed by a “regular” backyard astrophotographer."

Image 2.jpg

Image 2 - Peter Proulx

Voter quote - "Image 3 to me had the look of mystery showing iris through a porthole of dust - remarkable!"

Image 3.jpg

Image 3 - Shawn Nielsen

Voter quote - "I am drawn to image 4. All images are very good but image 4 speaks to me. "

Image 4.jpg

Image 4 - Ron Brecher