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M42 - Orion Nebula

Discussion in 'Night, InfraRed, and UltraViolet Photography' started by cdnpilot, Sep 1, 2018.

  1. Believed to be the cosmic fire of creation by the Maya of Mesoamerica, M42 blazes brightly in the constellation Orion. Popularly called the Orion Nebula, this stellar nursery has been known to many different cultures throughout human history. The nebula is only 1,500 light-years away, making it the closest large star-forming region to Earth and giving it a relatively bright apparent magnitude of 4. Because of its brightness and prominent location just below Orion’s belt, M42 can be spotted with the naked eye, while offering an excellent peek at stellar birth for those with telescopes. It is best observed during January. This is a compilation of approximately 7 hours of photographs that I took in with my D500.

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  2. a really nice shot of M42. M42 is one of my favorite deep sky objects.
    Thanks for sharing it.

    alexis and Georgie Beagle

    "nice shooting. 7 hours??? you are really good at guiding! and had some clear air!" - Georgie Beagle
  3. Butlerkid

    Butlerkid Cafe Ambassador Moderator

    Apr 8, 2008
    Rutledge, Tennessee
    Wow! Impressive image, Kevin!
  4. Thanks!
  5. kilofoxtrott

    kilofoxtrott European Ambassador Moderator

    Dec 29, 2011
    Tettnang, Germany
    Kevin, what an awesome picture.
    A friend of mine from our local photo club and I like to start astro photography this year.
    Will you give some advice of the processing please? 7 hours... How?

    Thank you in advance
  6. Thanks Klaus! It has taken me 5 years to get to this point - and as I may have said in the past posts, 50% if actually taking the photo and 50% processing it.

    First for the hardware, I have a dedicated setup (observatory in my backyard) which makes starting and stopping easy - but not necessary. Since the earth is rotating at 15 arc-seconds a minute - you will need a way to track this - especially for DSO (deep space objects). Without tracking, about 30-45 seconds is all you will get until the stars become oblong. StarGuider is an option for that (I know I read a post here with someone using one). For me, I use PHD2, a second camera, guide scope and computer hooked to my 8" Meade LX200 GPS.

    Processing - there are those who only use PS, but my success with that was zero. The 7 hours of processing were photos of - I believe - 5-6 minutes each. After you take the subs, you then need to add darks, flats and bias photos to create 1 photo. The short answer is that darks pick up the sensor noise; flats take out the dust bunnies and the like; and bias gets the electronic noise in the camera. One you have those, you need to calibrate, align and stack the photos. There are a number of options out there - including DSS (Deep Sky Stacker I think is the name) which is free (I do not use this). No matter what you use it will go through its work and then create your final photo - which will probably look like garbage (attached file below) - you can just barely see something in the middle. That is when the fun starts!

    A couple years back I bought a copy of PixInsight. Wow... if you think PS has a steep learning curve try this but it is THE gold standard in astro photo processing. I would try to use it - get ticked off and walk away. Then I would come back... Well, I have about 4 weeks off right now from my photo company, so I tackled it again... and now I GET IT! I feel like a kid in a candy shop - now going back to post process some of the photos as far back as 2015... well, some of those captures leave a lot to be desired.

    M42 was done last November - and with stretching and noise reduction processes and a whole lot more, what I posted above is what came out of the photo below.

    Sorry for the verbose answer - but any help I can give, please ask!

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  7. kilofoxtrott

    kilofoxtrott European Ambassador Moderator

    Dec 29, 2011
    Tettnang, Germany
    Thank you Kevin, your post is very informative.
    I'll work on it in the next time.

    Thank you for offering your help
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  8. Al I can say is WOW--for the picture and your patience.
  9. Kevin,

    Incredible persistence with stunning results! Amazing!
  10. Thanks! Lol... patience has never been a quality I have... stubbornness ... well yeah...

    Thanks! I still have a long way to go on this....
  11. Jrose


    Sep 4, 2018
  12. Very impressive, that looks like it belongs on a wall - and based on the equipment needed I will stick to simple Moon/star tracks shots :) 

    I took a course last year on night photography and the instructor similarly explained that combine photography and astronomy will require the right equipment depending what you want the end result to be.
  13. Thanks!

    Thanks! Don't let the equipment I use intimidate you. There are a few devices out there (Sky Watcher, iOptron for example) that you can attach to a tripod that track the earth's rotation. You then use your DSLR and lenses and there are a lot of targets that you can image. But, there are some things about terrestrial photography you have to forget when looking at astro photography. For example, AP depends on the number of light photons hitting your sensor; forget about ISO - it is not your friend ;)  There are a number of sites that talk about the optimum ISO vs read noise for different cameras. For my D500 I try to stick to 800. WARNING: it is very addictive!
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