Westerhout 5, also known as Soul Nebula, is an hydrogen region located in constellation Cassiopea, nearby other famous objects like the Heart Nebula and the Double Cluster. Its spans for about 100 light years and it is a nursery of stars, which have a few millions year old - young, compared with our 5 billion year Sun. These young stars are the large blue one and are clustered within the nebula (IC 1848, CR 34, 632 and 634). The highly energetic starts generate strong stellar wind, which push the nebula away, carving it out and creating the inward pillars we see in the photo which, due to its higher density, are also star forming regions.
The Soul Nebula shape derives from the bridge it exists between the two "bubbles" of gas. It resemblance to a fetus is the reason for also being called Embryo Nebula.
Following several weeks of bad weather, finally sky cleared for some nights which allowed me to capture 20+ hours of narrowband (NB) imagery using hydrogen, oxygen and sulphur filters, used to create a false colour SHO image. This step is one of my headaches in processing NB as it entails the most artistic aspect of astrophotography, which does not bode well a mathematical mindset... :-) Still, I think a pleasent colour pallet was achieved.
On a side note, on one of the nights shooting, a misconfiguration in the sequence made the mount park while the camera was still capturing frames, making me loose some 6 hours. As it happens, the resulting data was great to make a star trail of Polaris. Polaris, the Northern Star, indicates the North; however, it is not exactly on the northern celestial pole (NCP).
The brightest trail, from 11:30 to 2:00 is Polaris, which along other nearby stars rotate around NCP, located right in the center of the radius. The distance is just 44'', visually insignificant but relevant for precision tracking. In addition, these frames allowed me to create the synthetic flats to perfectly calibrate the Oiii data, which I am not able to do well with regular flats.
So, as the saying goes "of life gives you lemons, make lemonade"!
This photo was taken at Barcarena, Portugal (Bortle 8) in November 2023, in a total of almost 26 hours of NB plus 1.5 hours for RGB stars.