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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Below the Belt...of Orion

In my opinion the Orion Nebula has to be one of the best if not the best target for northern astro-imagers. It is a large nebula, easy to find with many different colors. It is a gem under Orion's Belt. This is probably why I've chosen this target every winter since I have been imaging.

When I first started imaging in the late 1990's, The Orion Nebula was my first and became my favorite target . This image of the Orion Nebula was taken with a Pentax 35mm film camera connected to my 8" Meade SCT LX-50 in 1997. It is a single exposure about 15 minutes in length, manually guided. (guiding is a discussion for another post, in short manual guiding was a pain!) My first true astrophoto.

My astro-imaging hobby took the backseat to other interests shortly there after. It re-emerged late in the fall of 2011. Technology sure had changed  in almost 15 years. Now armed with a Canon T3i camera I had recently purchased, one of my first targets was of course the Orion Nebula. This image consists of 5 images, each 2 minutes long, aligned and stacked with software.  Guiding was controlled by a laptop. This was taken in December 2011 slightly more than 1 year ago through an 80mm refractor
I continued imaging with my Canon T3i until October 2012 when I decided to purchase a camera dedicated and designed for astrophotography. Having limited funds to spend on my "hobby", I chose a QHY9M CCD. There are many CCD options, but I had seen many excellent pictures taken with this camera and the price was great. In all honesty I wanted to get the CCD before winter to image the Orion Nebula. Here was my result with the CCD and a 102mm refractor, October 22,2012
My camera is a mono CCD, which means it shoots in B&W. This was shot with  luminance(clear),red,green & blue filters, 70 minutes of luminance,30 each of red,blue,green.
 I have more details on this post

With the purchase of different filters my imaging of the Orion Nebula continued. This time using a Hydrogen-Alpha filter and the LRGB filters. This is actually 4 images(with the CCD and 102mm refractor) combined in a mosaic to show more area. The hydrogen-alpha filter exposed more "dust" surrounding the nebula, January 18,2013
I really enjoyed creating the mosaic for the image above so I keep expanding on it, 13 panels in the mosaic. It's incomplete and I hope to finish it soon.
Posts on this project:
My goal is to collect enough panels to fill this field of view. The weather has been an issue for the last couple of weeks, snow,rain,sleet. Hopefully I get a few clear nights soon, there's alot more to do.
I never would have dreamed 15 years ago that one day I would be able to take images like this. Sure there are tons of better images out there,and my images have many,many flaws, but I learn something new everyday. I now have a solid 1 1/2 years under my belt imaging my favorite target under Orion's Belt!


  1. Just found out my mosaic is Astronomy Magazine's picture of the day!

    1. Great! Congratulations! Picture of the month/year would also be appropriate! ;-)

  2. Just checking it out Chuck, Congratulations!

    1. Thanks Jeff!!!! Nothing new to add, the weather is horrible!!!

  3. Seems the only thing in my forecast has been nothing but clouds! Hoping break comes soon and I can take advantage of it! Clear Skies!

    1. I think I've reprocessed every image I ever took, I need new material! Hopefully all our skies clear soon!

  4. The mosaic is a pretty stout piece of's deserving of the Astronomy POD. Really well done Chuck.

    1. Thanks Mike! I got lucky on the POD. I hope I can finish this one soon, there's more targets to grab!