Cometary Globule CG4 in Puppis (AKA- the Hand of God)
Shot from Southern California!
To see the faint detail in this image, adjust your monitor's brightness and contrast to clearly show all 17 steps in this grayscale chart:
This image is the result of my silly attempt at detecting this faint cometary globule that lies at -47 degree declination. Inspired by David Malin's photograph of this beautiful object, I attempted its detection from a local observing site in Southern California even though it barely clears the southern horizon from here.
This image was shot at an elevation angle that varied between 3.5 and 8.8 degrees (at peak altitude). The light from this faint nebula had to penetrate 7 to 13 air masses before reaching the telescope. The long atmospheric passage severely attenuated the light (particularly at the shorter wavelengths) due to Raleigh scattering and absorption. Atmospheric turbulence severely blurred the image, making the stars appear large and fuzzy and robbing the nebula of its beautiful detail. The raw subexposures exhibited severe additive and multiplicative gradients.
MaxIm DL and Photoshop helped somewhat in patching up this image, but the adage "Garbage In/Garbage Out" certainly applies here. At least my preoccupation with shooting this object has been satisfied: now I can get on with the program!
Just to the left of CG4 lies the Magnitude 14.5 edge-on spiral galaxy ESO257-19.