Brightest deep sky objects

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There are many amazing things to see in space, but deep-sky objects are some of the most interesting. These celestial bodies are outside of our solar system and can be seen with a telescope or a pair of binoculars. Deep sky objects like star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae give us a lot of interesting pictures to look at.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the brightest deep sky objects and talk about what makes them so special. You really don’t want to miss imaging these beauties!

Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula is one of the most famous objects in the deep sky. It is in the constellation of Orion. It is a place where gas and dust clouds come together to form new stars. It can be seen with the naked eye, and a telescope lets you see it in great detail. The swirling clouds create an incredible visual spectacle that’s truly mesmerizing.

I’ve taken pictures of the Orion Nebula a lot of times, and each time I see it, it gets better and more beautiful. This nebula is a good way to see how far you’ve come in your journey to become a better astrophotographer.

Because this nebula is so bright, you don’t need very long exposures.It is made up of several nebulae, including the Running Man Nebula, which I just recently took a picture of on its own, as you can see below:

Running Man Nebula. One of the brightest deep sky objects.
Running man Nebula in Orion


The open star cluster Pleiades, also called the Seven Sisters, is in the Taurus constellation. People have been able to see it with the naked eye for thousands of years. Pleiades, consisting of more than 1,000 stars surrounded by a stunning blue haze, has long been a favorite target for astronomers due to its stunning sight through any telescope.

There are seven main stars that can be seen with the naked eye on a clear night. Astrophotographers try to capture the blue nebulosity. I haven’t quite mastered this one yet, but I plan to go back very soon.

Check out my most recent picture below: 

Pleiades Star Cluster
The Pleides Star Clusters M45

I took the above image using an RGB filter (the Optolong L Pro), and next time I plan to try imaging it without any filter as I should be able to collect more light that way. The above image was exposed for a total of about six hours, and each sub-exposure lasted for two minutes.

Since the blue light in the nebula is a reflection, you shouldn’t use a narrowband filter.

The Pleiades are one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

Andromeda Galaxy

The Andromeda Galaxy is the galaxy closest to our own Milky Way. It is an amazing spiral galaxy. It is part of the constellation Andromeda and can be seen with the naked eye on nights when the sky is dark. But if you look at it through a telescope, you can see its beautiful spiral arms and bright center in more detail. A must-see for all stargazers! 

This galaxy is going to collide with our own Milky Way Galaxy in more than 4 billion years and is therefore heading towards us at an incredible speed!

You’ll need a focal length of no more than 500mm to capture the galaxy in one frame and it is better not to use a filter or you will cut out some of that precious light. This will depend on how much light pollution you have. I used a DSLR camera and a Samyang 150mm lens to fit it all in one frame in the picture I took in 2021.

Andromeda Galaxy M31 at 150mm focal length

Ring Nebula

The Ring Nebula is a beautiful planetary nebula that can be found in the constellation Lyra. Its name comes from the fact that it looks like a ring. It can be seen with a telescope. This amazing sight was made when a dying star threw off its outer layers, giving us a chance to see something truly amazing. Astrophotographers love to observe this natural wonder through telescopes.

It’s a good target and not too hard to photograph, but I learned that you need a long focal length to get close enough to see details. I took an image with my setup, including my telescope at 650mm, and it was absolutely tiny!

This one needs at least 1500mm, or I don’t think it’s worth doing. 

Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula is a famous remnant of a supernova. It is in the constellation Taurus. This remnant was formed when a massive star exploded during a supernova event, and its remnants now form an amazing visual display. This nebula is easy to see through a telescope because it has a shape that looks like a crab. Astronomers like to study this object because it looks amazing through any telescope.

In conclusion, the deep sky is full of beautiful sights that truly inspire. From stunning star clusters to magnificent galaxies, the universe holds many wonders waiting to be discovered. With a telescope or pair of binoculars, we can see this beauty up close and marvel at all that lies beyond.

Crab Nebula
Crab Nebula M1 in Narrowband

My most recent attempt was the Crab Nebula picture above, which turned out pretty well and has a lot of detail. I took a picture of it with my ZWO ASI533 MC PRO color camera and 650mm focal length telescope over the course of six hours. I used a ZWO duo band filter, which can pick up both oxygen III and hydrogen alpha wavelengths of light.

Comparing the Brightest Deep Sky Objects in the Northern Hemisphere

Here’s a table comparing ten of the brightest deep-sky objects we can see:

ObjectConstellationApparent MagnitudeDistance from Earth (light-years)Type
Orion NebulaOrion4.01,344Emission nebula
PleiadesTaurus1.6444Open star cluster
Andromeda GalaxyAndromeda3.42.5 millionSpiral galaxy
Ring NebulaLyra8.82,000Planetary nebula
Crab NebulaTaurus8.46,523Supernova remnant
Whirlpool GalaxyCanes Venatici8.431 millionSpiral galaxy
Lagoon NebulaSagittarius6.04,100Emission nebula
Hercules ClusterHercules6.325,000Globular star cluster
Dumbbell NebulaVulpecula7.51,360Planetary nebula
Sombrero GalaxyVirgo8.028 millionSpiral galaxy
Ten of the brightest deep sky objects in the Northern Hemisphere

This table includes the object’s name, the constellation it can be found in, its apparent magnitude (how bright it appears to us on Earth), its distance from Earth in light-years, and the type of object it is.

Apparent Magnitude – what does this show?

The apparent magnitude shows how bright an object looks to us from Earth. The larger the number, the less bright the object appears. The apparent magnitude has nothing to do with an object’s actual brightness compared to other objects. This is because some objects that are very bright in reality are just so far away, while others that are less bright are closer and appear brighter. For more about how the brightness of deep sky objects is measured see this page on


Now that you know which objects in the night sky are the brightest, you can start by using them as targets for your photos. The brighter an object is, the easier it will be to take a picture of it.

Good luck, and I hope you have as much fun taking pictures of these bright objects as I have.