M42-The Great Orion Nebula
My most recent picture of the Great Orion Nebula (above) indicates that the Great Orion Nebula has completely changed orientation suddenly and without explanation. If you look at the imagebelow that I took just a few weeks ago, you can see what I mean:
M42-The Great Orion Nebula on 1/27/08
In looking at astronomy sites around the web, I’ve seen nothing that could explain how the orientation of the Orion Nebula could change suddenly. Large structures like this generally take thousands of years to show significant changes, but for a change this radical to take place is simply unprecedented. I’ll provide more details on this as soon as I’m able. How exciting!
M42-The Great Orion Nebula
Tonight was cold enough that even with all of my layers on I went inside periodically to warm up. Unfortunately, there was enough of a breeze that I had trouble getting and long exposures and clouds kept showing up when the breeze died down. I took a few images of M33 and M45, but wound up adding to my M42 Orion Nebula images. The image above now contains 37+minutes of data including a couple 5 minute shots and it’s really starting to show more nebulosity. The Running Man Nebula (NGC1973) which is on the right is also really starting to show up. If I can get a night without wind, I’m hoping to add a couple 10 minute images so that we’ll be able to see even more of the structure of this wonderful deep sky object. Sorry to keep harping on Orion, but I’m still figuring out how to use the DSLR camera successfully with dimmer objects. I hope to have some images of something else soon.
M42-Great Orion Nebula on 2/23/08
I’ve imaged the Orion Nebula a very large number of times, particularly with my DSI cameras. I hadn’t had access to the Nikon D50 DSLR camera for a while (it belongs to my office) and so I had never used the camera on deep sky objects before. I also had not (until the eclipse) used it on my new telescope, the LXD75. I knew it would have a broader field of view, but how much broader, I really had no idea until I tried it. I took a several guided (using my Meade 70AZ-A as a guide scope with my DSI) 2 minute images of the Orion Nebula and then stacked them in DeepSkyStacker. I was extremely pleased with the result, particularly since this only represents 6 images. Normally I stack many more than that to get more detail. I need to try this camera out on some other objects to see what it’s capable of, but if it holds up, I may wind up selling my DSI II and buying a DSLR just for astrophotography. This is the best image of M42 I’ve ever made. I can’t wait to take more.
Unfortunately, while taking some image of M45-The Pleiades, I realized that while I had brought my dew shield out to the telescope, I’d never put it on and the scope was starting to frost over. I guess further imaging will have to wait until another night.
Update: I reprocessed the image, this time, using flat frames, dark frames and bias frames (technical stuff that help me get a better image). I focused on just the main nebula and worked to bring out the detail and this was the result:
A reprocessed, cropped version of the above M42 image
There’s a lot more detail there and I believe that if I can get a few more long exposures, I should have a really, really nice image.
NGC1973/75/77 on 1/3/08
This is really one of the first objects outside the planets, the moon and the Messier catalog that I have imaged. It is from the New General Catalogue which is one of the largest general catalogs of deep sky objects. If you’re interested, you can read about it at the link.
NGC1973/75/77, also known as the Running Man Nebula, is a nebula found just north of the Great Orion Nebula, which I’ve been imaging quite a lot lately. I imaged this area before in my post several months ago on Orion’s Sword. That image was created with my 4 1/2 inch Tasco scope. This one is created with my new scope. You can easily see how much more detail is present in this one – how much more nebulosity was captured by the larger 8″ mirror and with the much better DSI II.
I also was able to image M82-The Cigar Galaxy again, but most of the images didn’t turn out very well, so it’s not too much better than the one from the other night.
M82-Cigar Galaxy on 1/3/08
Finally, I really debated today whether or not the image of Mars I got was really that detailed or if the brightness/color variations might have been caused by dirt on the eyepiece. This evening I saw an image someone had created where they compared their image of Mars to the way Starry Night software displayed Mars (it’s sky simulation software) because it should display it pretty much as it looks. Here’s the result:
Mars Comparison: My Image (left) | Starry Night Simulation (right)
After looking at it this way, I feel much more confident in my image. I need to try it again with a better eyepiece.
Update: I re-stacked the best 140 images of Mars and then worked with it a bit further in Photoshop. Here’s the result.
Marson 1/3/08 – Restacked