Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Orion Nebula and the Running Man Nebula

This is my latest rendition of the Orion Nebula (M42), DeMairan's Nebula (M43), and the Running Man Nebula (NGC 1973, NGC 1975, NGC 1977).  I was not planning on imaging Orion this year since I captured it last year, however, there three substantial changes in my equipment since last year. 
1) I had my Canon Rebel T3i (600D) camera modified (Hap Griffin), 2) Astronomik UHC Clip filter, and 3) an Orion 0.8 Focal Reducer.  Although my image last year was good, I was not able to get the Running Man in my image.

M42 and M43 are both diffuse nebulae located in the Orion constellation while the Running Man Nebula is a reflection nebula also in the Orion constellation.  All of these objects are between 1300 and 1500 light-years away.

I collected data over five nights four of them were at the Happy Frog (home observatory) and one evening at Boothe Memorial Park while we were doing work on the Boothe Memorial Astronomical Society Observatory.  On the first couple of nights I did not frame the shot as well as I could have so I collected data over three more nights in order to get the optimal framing for both Orion and Running Man.  The processing was very difficult as I had to align the different exposures and then merge them.  

For aligning the images I used a method described by Trevor Jones from AstroBackyard on his Youtube channel, Astrophotography Tutorial - Create a HaRGB Composite Image.  For merging the the different exposures I used the method from my previous Orion image which was modified from Jerry Lodriguss.

The general procedure is:
1) to open two images to be merged, a short and long exposure.
2) select the short exposure and select all (Ctrl + A).
3) copy (Ctrl + C).
4) open the long exposure and paste (Ctrl + V).
5) select the mask button on the bottom of layers pallette.
6) (Alt + click) on the mask next to the layer 1 button.
7) click on the white mask exposure and paste (Ctrl + V).
8) open the Gaussian Filter under the filters pulled down menu.
9) use 30 pixels for the size.
10) open layer one to see the result.

M42, M43, NGC 1973, NGC 1975, NGC 1977
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT and Boothe Memorial Park, Stratford, CT
Date: 2-18-17, 2-19-17, 2-20-17, 2-26-17, 2-27-17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm
f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR, Astronomik UHC Clip filter
Autoguiding: QHY-5LM attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: Total 180s (210 min)
2-18-17) 10 x 30s, 16 x 180s
2-19-17) 19 x 5s, 20 x 180s
2-20-17) 10 x 180s
2-26-17) 9 x 180s
2-27-17) 15 x 180s
ISO: 800
Temp: 0 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools


  1. Excellent image Kurt! Great job blending the core and including the Running Man in the frame. TY for the mention of my video as well! Clear skies.

    1. Thanks for the comments Trevor. Your videos have really helped me out.