The Flying Bat and Giant Squid

A few months ago our journey made a stop by the Elephant Trunk Nebula in the constellation of Cepheus. Not more than a stoneโ€™s throw away you will find this odd ball pair: the Flying Bat Nebula (Sh2-129) and the Squid Nebula (Ou-4). This region is rich in hydrogen-alpha (Ha) and Oxygen3 (Oiii) emissions, which comprises the Flying Bat Nebula and Squid Nebula, respectively. The pair is located some 2,300 light years away from Earth.

Undoubtedly, processing this image has to be my most challenging to date. I captured 15.5 hours of data over a period of 3 nights, with a dual narrowband filter, which is capable of isolating the Ha and Oiii regions. One of the sessions was during the Sturgeon full moon. Though this is not an ideal sky, I thought I would take advantage of a clear sky that night. Post-processing proved to be quite a challenge, and I spent hours working every technique I have learnt to date to produce the final image. I knew beforehand that the Squid Nebula is extremely faint and it requires tons of data to bring out the structure. I am pleased with the outcome, but I will continue to work on this target to add much more hours of data. In the meantime, remember to look up and experience an amazing Universe!

Starless Sh2-129 and Ou-4.

Gear: AA Hypercam 26C, Askar 80 PHQ, HEM27 mount, Optolong L-Ultimate; ZWO OAG + AA120mc

Exif: 185 x 5-min lights; Gain 200, Offset 3, TEC @ 10 degrees; 20 darks,

SharpCap, PHD2; AstroPixelProcessor, PixInsight; Photoshop


  1. That is quite an interesting image, to see the clear distinction between the hydrogen and the oxygen areas. I’m wondering if both of those are actually part of the same galactic structure or is one of them closer or further away than the other? Also I’m wondering if the bright star in the middle has any particular common designation or just a bright star which of course would be
    Identified in an overall star catalog?
    By the way I’ve never heard of those designations either: the “flying bat” or the “squid” nebula. It definitely makes it more interesting than just designating them with an NGC or other general catalog number.
    Plenty of good detail and texture and color.
    I know it’s a lot of work but you really did a great job! ๐Ÿ’ฏ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ™

    1. I will have to do a bit more research into these targets. They very well may be emissions in the same region as this is a part of the milky coreโ€ฆ may be the result of a dying star; but Iโ€™ll look into it ๐Ÿ˜Š. Quite interesting and thatโ€™s exactly why I wanted to capture this one. Thank you for your usual valuable comments.

  2. Impressive, Drexel, both in the quality of your image and also in the quality and quantity of your efforts to make this image visible to us regular non-astronomer types! Nicely done.

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