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The Orion Nebula & the tale of it's capture!

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I had been checking the BBC's weather site all week and knew Friday was supposed to be clear. Well come Friday and for once it was clear :clouds2:

I started getting the scope ready around 4pm. Plonked down the HEQ5, added the weights, then the scope.....

Anyway I was all geared up for a night of imaging and M45 was going to be my only target! As soon as it was dark (around 18:30) I was out and first up was a good polar align. I have tried in the past with my EQ5 mount to do a drift align with WCS so (thought) I knew what to do. It took me till 9pm to get a decent drift alignment! I dont know what I was doing wrong :D It was just a catalog of disasters, first I moved the mount accidentaly, then I bumped it. Then I moved the star in the wrong direction onscreen :x Well come 9PM I decided it was pretty good in the 8" Newt so imaging with the ZS66 and focal reducer should make the small error unoticeable :rolleyes:

So next up......find Orion! This was not as easy as it should have bee either, you see last night was pretty cold and my RDF had frozen over! So in to steal Mrs Blinky's hair dryer :D

Finally I had Orion in my sights :Envy:

The image below is 60X30second images and then (after defrosting my ZS66 lens with the hairdryer!) a further 40X1minute images. I used the FITS file format in Meade's Envisage software so I could sort of see something onscreen but as it was a FiT file it did not auto stretch it or stack it for me as it does with some of the other options.

After the capture was over I moved to the Pleiades and captured around 14mins of data, still got to play about with that so expect another image tommorrow :shocked:

Lastly (by now it was 1am) I went to image Mars with an Orion imager that I have on loan. I captured 6000 frames and then tried with the 2X Barlow. I wondered why Mars shot of screen, it was then I discovered that the Scope had hit the legs of the tripod (Another reason to build a pier!) so that was the end of that! On looking at the capture without the barlow today, Mars is way overexposed and totally useless. I dont know whether to persevere or jump back to my ToUCam :D I also captured a quick shot of Saturn but have not really played about with it yet.

Time for bed!

Anyway back to Orion!

Today I stacked both the 30secs and 1 min captures in DSS and (After much faffing about!) got the data in to Photoshop. It has taken me the best part of today to get the image as good as I can and I am now delighted to say I have finally managed to get a decent image of THE GREAT ORION NEBULA :kiss: :kiss: :cry:

The thrill of seeing the final image is as much as I got the first time I saw Saturn in a telescope 8)

Well I think I have said enough...so without further waffle :rolleyes: Here you go!

BTW ANy comments about this are most welcome, it is the first image Ihave produced that has a lot of exposure and the first time I have combined to diffrent exposures and did as much image processing, so feel free to let me know where/how it can be improved!


(click to enlarge)

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Well done in the end Craig your perseverance payed off. I know how frustrating it can be when things dont go as smoothly as planned. Any clear night is like gold dust and we often rush things trying to make the most of it leading to errors and chunks of time disappearing.

Congrats on the pic you have picked up the outer nebulosity well.



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I have had a play about with the data and have come up with this:


(click to enlarge)

I amnot sure now if I have overcooked it :D I do quite like it but am wondering if it looks somewhat 'atrificial' now :rolleyes:

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Your imaging is improving in a big way Craig.

It is difficult when trying to hurry things along in order to defeat impening bad weather.

It often leads to frustration and mistakes.

Anyway, you got agreat image here, and I like your edited version too.


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Thanks forall the comments. Ron it is good to finally have some decentdata of my own to play around with.

THis image is the original with the tweeked one as a luminosity layer.


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Well done Craig. After all that effort with the drifting it was well worth getting a decent amount of exposure. You've merged the images very nicely. the last one is my favourite.

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Great pic and report Craig. Nice to hear the story behind the images.

I know exactly what you mean with this drift polar alignment malarky. It's certainly my most time consuming exercise. :D


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The biggest problem I have is that I only get the chance to get out once or twice a month with the weather. This means I have never really got the drift alignment sorted out. I have not worked out exactly what direction to move the mount in to correct it. I am using WCS but there is an option to reverse the settings and I have never had a real chance to play about with it!

Martin, the image seems a little 'fuzzy' and 'soft' is this due to my focus not being spot on or is it the processing or the fact that at the end of the day the camera is a very basic uncooled one? I did use a hartman mask but am never sure if it helps as when I am nearly at focus I can only really see one image anyway :D

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