NGC281 – “Pacman Nebula” | Andrea Arbizzi

Astropod, Nebulae

Astropod May 16th 2023

Located within the seemingly infinite expanse of the cosmos, NGC281, also known as the “Pacman Nebula”, is a captivating celestial object that continues to fascinate both amateur and professional astronomers alike. This image, captured by the talented astrophotographer Andrea Arbizzi, showcases the nebula in all its awe-inspiring glory. The exquisite details and vibrant colors of the nebula are the result of meticulous planning, state-of-the-art equipment, and hours of painstaking image processing.

NGC281 - "Pacman Nebula" | Credit: Andrea Arbizzi
NGC281 – “Pacman Nebula” | Credit: Andrea Arbizzi

The “Pacman Nebula” is an emission nebula situated in the constellation Cassiopeia, which is approximately 9,500 light years away from our planet. Named for its resemblance to the iconic video game character, the nebula is an active star-forming region, filled with gas and dust that provide the necessary ingredients for new stars to take form. This vibrant image by Arbizzi reveals the nebula’s intricate structures and brilliant colors, showcasing a dramatic scene of stellar birth and evolution.

Gear and Equipment Used

  • Telescope: APM SD Apo (Fpl53) 140 F7
  • Reducer/Flattener: Starizona Apex 0,65X (effective focal length f4,6 or 646 mm)
  • Camera: ZWO ASI533MC Pro
  • Mount: iOptron GEM45 (with Hybrid Tecnosky tripod)
  • Guide Camera and Off-Axis Guider: ASI290MM Mini + ZWO OAG-L
  • Focus and Filter Wheel: ZWO EAF ZWO EFW 5X2
  • Control and Dew Prevention: ZWO AsiAir Plus + Artesky dew heater


The image was captured from Modena, Italy, where the sky quality meter (SQM) readings were between 18.3-18.9, and the Bortle scale, which measures the brightness of the night sky, was between 7.5-8.

Image Acquisition Details

The image was captured in September 2022 using the HOO palette. The total exposure time was 17 hours, with the Antlia ALP-T 5nm filter accounting for 100 frames of 600 seconds each, and the SV Bony Uv Ir cut filter accounting for 20 frames of 60 seconds each.

Image Processing Techniques

The image was processed using several software applications, including Astro Pixel Processor, Photoshop 2022 (Camera Raw, APF-R 2, Astro Panel 6, Photokemi’s ST, NoiseXterminator, StarXterminator), Starnet v2, Topaz Denoise, and Siril 1.

Significance of the Image

This image of the “Pacman Nebula” is significant not just for its technical excellence but also for what it reveals about our universe. The nebula, with its stellar nurseries, provides a glimpse into the processes that give birth to stars, offering insights into the life cycle of these celestial bodies. This incredible image by Arbizzi invites viewers to contemplate the wonder and enormity of our universe, serving as a testament to the beauty that lies beyond our planet.

Photographer Credits

The image was captured and processed by Andrea Arbizzi, a dedicated and talented astrophotographer.

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