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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!