Heart and Soul Nebula Mosaic (IC1805 and IC1848)

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This image is of a pair of emission nebula lying in the constellation Cassiopeia that are commonly called the 'Heart and Soul' nebula. The Heart Nebula (left side of image) contains an open star cluster bearing the catalogue designation IC 1805, and the origin of the popular name should be obvious. The 'Soul Nebula' (right side of image) contains the open cluster IC 1848, and the nebula is often referred to by the cluster designation. Both clusters, and their associated nebula complexes, lie at an estimated distance from earth of 1700 parsecs (5542 light years, Reference 1). (These large regions of glowing hydrogen (HII regions) are also referred to as W3, W4 and W5)

This image was taken through narrowband filters--filters that allow only a thin band of light at very specific wavelengths to pass through to the digital camera. Three filters were used in the image: H-alpha (hydrogen, 656 nm), OIII (doubly ionized oxygen, 500 nm) and SII (singly ionized sulfer, 671/673 nm). The resulting image from each filter is then assigned a color channel to make the final, color image. While the color pallete is somewhat arbitrary, chosen for aesthetic reasons--the colors here are what is commonly called the "modified Hubble pallete" (red = SII; green = Halpha; blue = OIII). Clicking on the image will reveal a higher resolution version in a popup window.

  Optics:Stellarvue SVQ-100 refractor 
Camera:Starlight Xpress SX-46  
Exposure info:~20 x 20 mins per frame per filter (3 frame mosaic, 55 hours total exposure) 
Filters used:Astrodon H-alpha, OIII and SII narrowband 
Date:Fall 2020-2021 

The constellation Cassiopeia is located along the belt of the winter Milky Way, making it densly populated with stars and gaseous nebula. The view at left shows the basic form of the constellation, the five main stars of the constellation forming a distinctive 'W' in the sky not far from the North Star, Polaris. The approximate outline of the image above is shown as a dotted rectangle encompassing both of the nebula pictured above.

Cassiopeia is one of the most recognizable constellations in the northern sky. In mythology, Cassiopeia was the queen of Aethiopia, wife of King Cepheus and mother of Princess Andromeda; Cepheus and Andromeda are neighboring constellations in the night sky. Lying nearby the nebula pair pictured above is the famous 'Double Cluster' in the constellation Perseus. I have done a wider field image (lower resolution) that encompasses both nebula and the Double Cluster that can be found here:

Heart and Soul with Double Cluster

Plot Credit: The Sky Live
The Sky Live


1. Sharpless, Stewart. "The Distances and Dimensions of IC 1805, IC 1848 and IC 410." The Astronomical Journal, No. 1228, 1955