M42 The Orion Nebula

24th Jan 2006
Object name: M42 Orion nebula
Object type: Bright Nebula
Magnitude: 4
Size: 65 60
Classification: EN+RN
Apparent RA: 05 35 17.1 Apparent Dec: -05 23 25
Constellation: Orion

Its been a long time since I visited the Great Orion Nebula, M42, in colour. Feb 2003 to be exact. Here is my result from my early days with a SC1 webcam. In fact, there is also page showing my first m42 with an unmodified webcam. I dabbled occasionally with m42 using my SC3 camera, but never got a good result with my 1000mm focal length scope and the small 424 chip. Mind you, those humble efforts came out of the same telescope as the image above.

Enter Artemis. Last night looked very promising, and I started to follow my plan (and I use the word plan in its loosest sense) of looking at some dim galaxies. However, there was some misty growing that made very long exposures difficult. By the stage M42 had cross the meridian, so I decided I'd have a go. I took 20 frames in 1x1 binning with 100s exposures. These only just saturated in the core. I added a few 20s exposures to help with the core. Then I used the colour filters to take some 2x2 binned colour frames of 20s exposure.

Processing this one has proved very difficult. Each time I process an Artemis picture, I discover that I have more and more to learn. I think there will be quite a few re-processings of this one. Any suggestions welcome! I am not happy with the green/blue stars. Actually, I'm unsure about the overall colour balance. I don't think I focused properly with the colour filters in. Also, the starshapes could be better, I don't think the mount likes tracking at such low declinations.

Of course, this only shows a tiny amount of the Great Nebula - it goes on for miles... but I like to do closeups, not wide fields.

The full sized image is here.

This image was autoguided using my 400mm focal length refractor and my black and white SC1 webcam.

Captured in Artemis Capture. Individual L long, L short, R, G and B channel calibrated, aligned and combined in Maxim. DDP applied to long L layer. RGB channels aligned, combined and balanced in Maxim. Photoshop used to combine the two L layers, tweak curves and perform final muliple luminosity layering.

Exposure Details :

20x100s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285
Green 6x25s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285
Blue 6x25s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285
Red 6x25s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285
9x20s on 200mm @ F5 with ART285

Curdridge Observatory, Southampton,UK