It’s summer now and with summer comes a new season of astrophotography where the Milky Way is in the sky and nebulas are abundant. This summer, I hope to shoot all of the following summer astrophotography targets. Most of these I’ve done previously, but they were mostly (or almost all) done in my first year. Many of them had very little data as I was so eager to get them off my camera and process them. All of them were shot in color with an ASI533MC and when I re-shoot them, they will be taken with my mono ASI533MM. 

In addition, I also include a list of all the other summer targets I think are worth shooting. I’ve shot many of them, but there are just so many to capture in this amazing season.

IC 1318: Sadr Region / Butterfly Nebula

I’m hoping to get a large-sensor camera (like the ASI2600MC) to shoot a larger part of this region. Otherwise, I plan on doing a mosaic. I love Cygnus and my dream is to capture a huge mosaic of it one day like this one! I’m just a bit hindered by my equipment (not wide field enough) and time. I did shoot this in 2022 as one of the first photos I ever did; it’s so “beginner astrophotographer” because it’s under 1 hour of data.  Click the image below to see details on Astrobin.

NGC 6888 : Crescent Nebula

This is one of the first nebulas to appear in early-mid July alongside the Sadr region above.  This is of great relief to me because I just spent 4 months with broadband targets as both galaxy season and globular cluster month come to an end.

This nebula is also in Cygnus along with many of the others below. It’s a favorite among many astrophotographers, just check out how many photos there are on Astrobin. It kind of looks like a brain if you really zoom in. In this photo below since it’s wide field, it looks like a floating nugget in space.

The image below is one of the first images I ever took on my astrophotography journey in 2022. I think it still holds up, but I’m working on a new one this year.

NGC 7000 : North America Nebula

I’ve done this nebula previously with my old OSC camera (see below) but I want to do it again and this time with a mono camera and more data. The photo below was a meager 3 hours of data. You won’t find me shooting just 3 hours anymore. 

I’m debating using either a Redcat 51 (250 mm) for a wider perspective or an AT115EDT (644 mm) for a Cygnus Wall perspective. The photo below was shot using the Redcat 51 and ASI533MC. I can’t help but feel it’s an awkward composition and if I shoot it again with the Redcat 51, it will have the same perspective as I have a 533MM now. This is why I’m debating using the Astro-Tech AT115EDT.

IC 1396: Elephant Trunk Nebula

This is yet another summer astrophotography target that I took in the past with my color camera and I’m hoping to get something better this time using mono (which I am confident I will!). When I shot this, I did 8 hours of data which at that point was the longest amount of time I spent doing anything and it felt like it was a huge effort.

I shot most of these 2022 photos using a Skyguider Pro mount which had no goto capabilities. I had to manually (with my own hands) shift it to where the target was in the sky. With the help of the ASIAir’s plate solving, I was able to keep shifting until I was in the exact coordinates of the target. Going or finding a target sometimes took an hour! When it was time for a meridian flip, it was time to go in. This may explain why 8 hours was such an exhausting effort at the time. A good mount saves time and let’s you focus on getting the images. Advice to cheapos like me who bought a Skyguider Pro: Don’t skimp on the mount!

NGC 7822: The Cosmic Question Mark

I tried this one in 2022 and it failed. I didn’t capture the whole question mark and my setup was not wide field enough then (and still isn’t) to do this.  To resolve the wide issue, I plan on doing a 2-panel mosaic to capture the whole thing. I will also be using a mono camera as opposed to the color camera that tends to heavily emphasize Ha which is why these images are so red. 

More Summer Astrophotography Targets

In addition to the ones above that I want to shoot this summer, here’s a list of some great summer astrophotography targets for anybody wondering what to capture in this season.

M16: Eagle Nebula

This is truly one of my favorite captures that I did of all time. I took this last summer on my Astro-Tech AT115EDT using my ASI533MM mono camera. This is a unique nebula as it can be captured in all sorts of ways: wide field (with the Omega Nebula), medium field or really close up (like 1000mm+) to capture the pillars of creation within it. My capture of this is more medium field at 644mm on the small sensor of the ASI533MM.

NGC 6960: Veil Nebula 

Another one of my favorite targets. I captured this twice. Once in 2022 and again in 2023 using different telescopes and perspectives.  The one in 2022 was wide field at 250mm and almost covered the entire Veil Nebula while the one in 2023 was closer at 644mm and only covered the Western Veil Nebula.

M8: Lagoon Nebula

I took this photo of the Lagoon Nebula on a family vacation at the beach. This one sits really low in the sky to the south. You definitely need a low horizon such as a beach to capture this. I could not have captured this in my backyard. This Lagoon Nebula photo was a only 1h 45m of data. It came out pretty good being it was given minimal effort. I will be going to that same beach again this summer and I hope to do this again, but I’m not putting it on my official summer list yet. 

IC 5070: Pelican Nebula

This is often taken alongside the North America Nebula as they are so close in proximity. I decided to take it by itself and I really love it’s colors and composition on its own. What makes it so interesting is it looks so different taken on its own than it does alongside the North America Nebula.

M31: Andromeda Galaxy

This is the closest galaxy to our own galaxy, The Milky Way. While it’s 2.5 million light years away from Earth, it appears huge in the sky and can be captured with a small telescope like a Redcat 51 or Canon 200mm lens.  I shot this one with a Redcat 51 at 250mm and it filled the frame.  

M13: Hercules Cluster

The Hercules Cluster is IMO the most epic globular cluster in the sky. This object may of been what attracted me to astrophotography in the first place. It’s also easy to shoot as it doesn’t require much data to get a great pic.  I shot this one with only 3.5 hours of data, although I am currently working on a 12 hour data version of it to be released soon!

Rho Ophiuchi

This is the big prize of summer astrophotography targets. It’s a huge cloud complex and one of the most beautiful super wide field targets in the sky. It sits extremely low in the southern part of the sky making it very difficult to capture without a clear horizon. I hope to take this one day, but I’ll definitely have to travel to do so. Extremely Epic Webb Telescope Capture Here.

Cygnus Constellation

Grab a 28mm – 50mm lens on your camera and shoot Cygnus–one of the most epic constellations in all of the universe. Cygnus contains the North America Nebula, Pelican Nebula, Sadr Region / Butterfly Nebula, Veil Nebula, and many nebulas from the Sharpless (SH-2) catalog. It also contains the stars Sadr, Deneb, Alberio. This photo by Nico Carver shows Cygnus shot at 28mm on a full frame camera.  

M20: Trifid Nebula

This one is often captured alongside the Lagoon Nebula due to their proximity. It’s smaller than the Lagoon, so capturing it by itself will require a larger telescope.  See Wikipedia entry.

M17: Omega Nebula

This one sits right below the Eagle Nebula in the south.  Believe it or not, I can’t capture this one in my backyard as a tree is blocking it. I barely had clearance for the Eagle Nebula.  

That’s my list. I’m sure there are other summer targets, but these are the ones you will definitely want to capture.

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