Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sword of Orion

This region of the Orion constellation is terrific fun from a visual observation perspective. You have M42, the Great Orion Nebula, with its detailed gas clouds and newly formed stars. Then, next to it you have MGC1977, commonly called the "Running Man nebula". Anyway, a nice active part of the sky that is gorgeous visually and makes for a great target with the right camera gear.

So, last night after shooting the moon I attempted this region. Circumstances weren't favorable; a bug moon to start with, and high level clouds to interfere with the image as well. Anyway, I wanted to take a test image of the region so I knew that when the time was right and I had better conditions, I could jump straight into taking a more decent image. Anyhoo, picture is below.

My flat images were terrible, so you can see some vignetting. At ISO800, the core or Trapezium region of M42 is just a white blob. I read that you can take shots at ISO400 and blend them with ISO800 shots to get around this, so I will try that next time. You can barely make our the Running Man, but a longer exposure should fix that. Still, through clouds and moonlight this is an okay attempt.

Image Details:
  • Nikon D40
  • William Optics 66mm Petzval mounted atop LX200 with Milburn wedge
  • 35*30 second exposures @ ISO800
  • Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker
  • Slight sharpening and curve adjustment in Photoshop
  • Noise reduction in NeatImage
Click on image for full size

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