M42 ‘Orion Nebula’

By Anton Winter

The main nebulosity you see in this image makes up the middle star in the 3 ‘star’ sequence that you can see with the naked eye making up the sword in the Orion Constellation. I have completely blown out the centre of this nebula due to the lack of appropriate data captured at the time, so it’s not quite visible, but it does contain a very young open star cluster called the Trapezium which is made up of 6 stars that have been born from the nebula itself and are about 15-30 times the size of our own sun.

The Orion Nebula is no longer visible to those of us in the southern hemisphere, so I’ll be waiting another 6 months to be able to get more data on this nebula, its surrounding stars & nebulosity.

This was taken with a modified Canon 550D on an Orion ED80T telescope and is rich in Hα data, the deep-red visible spectral line not normally accessible by standard DSLR cameras.

This shoot, done 6 months ago on the 6th December 2013, consisted of the following sub-exposures:

  • 10 x 20s
  • 10 x 15s
  • 8 x 40s
  • 5 x 1m
  • 4 x 5m

No darks, no flats, no bias frames (yes, I’ve learnt my lesson).

In addition, if people thought it was easy to take astrophotography shots of Deep Space Objects, this one took me about 10 hours of pre(!)-processing before I was happy with something that I wanted to post-process & share 🙂