Our project with LCO has started on July 1st. We already had 18 people applying to take part. The primary aim of the project is to teach people how to take images with the LCO and to then later analyse the light curves of stars in the pictures. For this purpose we plan to observe the young cluster IC5146 – The Cocoon Nebula – roughly every three days in a blue, green and red filter. Each time the participants observe the target they take three 2 minute exposures, i.e. a total of 6 minutes per filter.

We had now 5 successful observations of the target, but one of them had partial cloud cover, hence is not as deep (nice) as the others. This amount of good images, a total of 24 minutes exposure in each filter, allows us already to demonstrate what can be achieved by image stacking. The image in this post shows how adding up the images improves the depth. The sequence starts with a colour image made from a single set of 2min exposures in blue, green and red, and moves all the way through to the deep image with 24min exposures in each filter.

One can already see how the fainter stars in the region become more and more clear in the stacked image. In particular the extended red nebulosity, which is caused by Hydrogen atoms, does become more and more clear. This allows us to better study the structure of the nebula. We aim to regularly update this sequence when more images have been taken by the participant. We also plan to teach everyone how they can stack images themselves.