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M42 - A Winter's Tale


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Three images that reflect my winter project with the Orion Nebula.

Equipment used

Imaging AT106ED,unmodified Cannon 600D, AZ-EQ6

Guiding AT72ED,Lodestar X2, PHD2, EQMOD

Processing DSS, PhotoShop CC2015 (subscription version)

The first processed image is below, used ISO1600, no Flats , 17 lights of 60s, 10 darks and some Bias you can probably see the soft focus but stars were quite round and I had a capture of Orion and Running man - I watched tutorials but it was small links and advice on this forum that really helped me with the processing skills needed - I was happy, or so I thought....



As we ll know its been tough this winter getting any clear sky and avoiding the moon, but little by little over the past few months I got more experience , bought a Bahtinov Mask to help with the focus. I had set up in a side-side configuration but realised that its was very difficult to balance accurately, my PHD guiding graphs were like the Himalayas and I couldn't get better than 60s subs without everything trailing....but I did manage to create a 3 exposure image that I posted early January using 120s subs but dumped half of them as they were so bad.

ISO800 setting 30second subs,7 lights,10 darks | 60second subs, 5 lights,10 darks | 120second subs,17 lights, 10 darks | Calibration subs, 20 bias, 20 flats


Thanks to @Jonk I put the effort in and reconfigured my rig to a piggy back configuration and worked out how to use PHD2 to drift align my mount, these two changes made a huge difference to my guiding and I started to get 120s subs without trailing.

The processing side was challenging, lots to learn and as many people find out so many ways to process images so same images can produce different results - this is the balance between art and science and a whole different topic but I continued with my project and February 2nd the sky was clear...

ISO800 setting 20 second subs, 10 lights 5 darks | 120second subs,30 lights, 15 darks | Calibration subs, 40 bias, 20 flats


I used levels,curves,masks,dust,scratch filter, Hi Pass thanks to Nick Roe YouTube tutorial Orion Nebula Photoshop tutorial Part 2

So the Orion Nebula is now behind trees and a hedge from my back garden now by mid evening and so I will wait until the new winter season come October/November to revisit this perennial favourite, thanks for looking and of course any comments and advice most welcome as usual.





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Thanks everyone for kind words and encouragement. @Jonk you highlighted the importance of good polar alignment for guiding and using the drift method to achieve that - and I can say it was very good advice that gave me that nudge to take the time and do it.

Now watching the East / South sky for a new target, my views north and west are quite restricted due to hedges and houses.



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Glad I could be of help. Hopefully you have noticed a huge difference and understand that guiding without being polar aligned will give poor results.

If you can set up on a fixed pier, then this is one less thing to have to do each time so you can spend more time on the target.

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