Instead of working on a research paper last night, I was going through some old astronomy images and tried running them through some HDR software that I have (Dynamic-Photo HDR, about US$50). I had seen some folks use HDR software to help bring their astronomy photos to life so was curious about whether or not it really worked. I have been experimenting with HDR and regular photography for a while now, and you can see some nifty examples here, here and here. Without much tweaking, some images looked pretty useless, where the color was horribly over-saturated. I found an image of the Sword of Orion region which I took as a test shot for my new scope back in February of this year. After running it through the HDR software, it came out fairly decently! More detail could be seen around the outer "rim" of the Orion Nebula itself, and the Running Man Nebula really came to life.
It's possible, I suppose, that you could take a serious of shots at different exposure times, say a set of 10 minute exposures, a set of 5 minute exposures and a set of 1 minute exposures, and merge them using HDR software. Looks like others use this technique with terrific success.