M1 - The Crab Nebula

Number 1 in Messier's catalog from his observations in the 1700's, although thought to have been discovered by English astronomer John Bevis in 1731. 

Whilst classed as a nebula this is actually a supernova remnant, the remains of a star that exploded at the end of its life. Chinese astronomers documented the explosion in 1054 when it was bright enough to be seen in the daytime sky.

The remains of the original star, now a pulsar/neutron star, is only 18 miles in diameter but spins at 30.2 times per SECOND.

The nebula is still expanding at a rate of 930 miles per SECOND and images taken a few years apart show this incredible rate of expansion.  

I first saw an image of The Crab in my childhood, oddly enough in a Stingray Annual - remember Troy Tempest submarine captain? It made quite an impression and I was particularly excited when I discovered I could take my own image of The Crab.

Size: 11 Light Years
Distance from Earth: 6,500 Light Years
2024-02-08 M1 Crab Nebula

Scope   : CFF 135/926
Mount   : EQ6R-Pro (DFO StellarDrive)
Camera  : QHY600 Lite
Filters : Chroma
 • Ha   : 17 x 240s and 16 x 300s
 • OIII :  8 x 240s and 20 x 300s
 • SII :   8 x 240s and 20 x 300s
Total Integration : 6.3 hours

It took me three years but I finally got back to capturing data for this target again. This image uses the original data from 2021 (see below) and also adds new data captured in January 2024. The seeing was not great for the new data but it seems to have worked quite well. I am particularly pleased with the stars in this image which are from the narrowband data. I think they are indistinguishable from RGB stars, which is great since it removes the need to capture additional RGB data just for the stars.

2021-01-30 M1 Crab Nebula

Scope   : CFF 135/926
Mount   : EQ6R-Pro (DFO StellarDrive)
Camera  : QHY600 Lite
Filters : Chroma
 • Ha   : 22 x 240s
 • OIII :  8 x 240s
Total Integration : 2 hours

M1 is a small target for my relatively low powered scope and this was a test session with very limited data to see whether it was worth spending more time on. I didn't put much effort into processing so it's not a great image but it has inspired me to spend more time on The Crab when I get chance.