M42 – The Orion Nebula

M42 – The Orion Nebula

The Orion Nebula is the brightest diffuse nebula in the northern sky and also one of the brightest deepsky objects at all.

It is easily visible, even under moderately good conditions. It lies at a distance of about 1.300 light years.
The nebula is estimated to be approximately 24 light years across.

It contains a very young open cluster at the center, known as the Trapezium.
This nebula is one of the most photographed objects in the northern sky.

It has been almost 6 years now since I last took an image of M42 (Jan. 2008) and with the new equipment I wanted to have another go at the brightest nebula in the sky.
I managed to get a lot of images over several nights, but the conditions at which they were taken were not very favorable. The Moon was already quite high in the sky and humidity was very high (above 80%).

Still struggling with correct color balance and sufficient color data to get good color when using Ha as Luminance. Pre-blending Ha in the red channel did not help very much either.
I decided to go with a rather conservative processing for the final image.

The core of the nebula was re-created using a layer mask and a separate frame consisting of 100 images with exposure times of around 10 (RGB) to 15 seconds (Ha). This technique was used: Astropix.com – Combining 2 Different Exposures

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Image data

Name  :  M42 – The Orion Nebula
Type  :  Emission/Reflection nebula
Constellation  :  Orion
Right ascension  :  05h 35m 17s
Declination  :  -05° 23′ 28″
Distance  :  1.300 ly
Other designations  :  NGC1976, Sharpless 281
Image date  :  Dec. 10-13, 2013
Light frames  :  25 4 min. G&B (each) 9x 5 min. R unbinned*
18x 15 min. 7nm Ha unbinned (Luminance)
Total integration  :  9h 25m
Dark frames  :  18x Ha & 24x RGB unbinned
Flat frames  :  20x p. filter unbinned
Created with an A3 size Posterpoweruk flatfield panel
Bias frames  :  20x
Software used  :  CCDOps, CCDSoft, Maxim DL, Photoshop CS4, PixInsight LE
Processing  :  CCDOPS was used for focussing. Image Acquisition was done using CCDSoft.
All separate frames were calibrated, aligned and stacked in MaxIm DL5 Pro.
Photoshop CS4 was used for further processing – curves adjustment, levels adjustment, etc.
Noel Carboni’s toolset was used as well (Local Contrast Enhancement, Deep Space Noise Reduction)
PixInsight LE was used for DBE.
Telescope  :  TMB/LOMO 80/480
Corrector  :  Televue 2″ TRF 2008 flattener/reducer with 15% decrease focal length: 384mm f/4.8
Mount  :  Losmandy G-11
Camera  :  Canon 350D
Guide camera  :  Atik 1HS Mono
Guide scope  :  Vixen VMC110L
Autoguide software  :  PHD Guiding
Filters  :  Baader 2″ 7nm Ha, Baader 2″ RGB + IDAS LPS-P2
Location  :  Landgraaf, The Netherlands
Comment  :  All exposures were taken through IDAS LPS-2 filter which was in front of the filter wheel.
CCD Temp was set at -15.
*Only 9 x 5 min. RED were taken but this was blended with 33% Ha.
Quite hazy conditions, humidity was above 80%.
Still struggling to find a correct color balance, especially when blending in Ha as Luminance. Pre-blending Ha into the red channel did not do much for better color balance.
Jan. 08, 2008

1280 x 960px (Older DSLR color image)
Telescope : TMB 80/480 + Baader UHC-S
Mount : Losmandy G-11 + Canon 350D
Image data : 39 x 360 sec @ ISO800 = 3h 54m

Jan. 14, 2007

900 x 675px (Older DSLR color image)
Telescope : TMB 80/480 + Baader UHC-S
Mount : Losmandy G-11 + Canon 350D
Image data : 25 x 240 sec @ ISO400 = 1h 40m

Jan. 07, 2006

704 x 528px (Older DSLR color image)
Telescope : Orion USA 80/600 ED + Baader UHC-S
Mount : OTE150 + Canon 350D
Image data : 12 x 300 sec @ ISO800 = 1h 7m

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