EbolaBooze’s Fortnightly Astro Corner: The Great Nebula in Orion

Today’s subject is a classic nebula, visible to observers in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Messier 42 (M42, NGC 1976), better known as the Orion Nebula, or the Great Nebula in Orion in older publications, is a huge emission nebula just north of Orion’s Belt (South, for Northern Hemisphere observers). being one of the brightest nebulae in the sky, an visible with the naked eye from a dark site, it’s one of the most studied and widely photographed nebulae, by amateurs and professionals alike. It’s almost like a rite of passage: You haven’t truly stepped fully into the world of astrophotography until you’ve photographed the moon, a constellation, and the Orion Nebula.

Surprisingly, (or not, depending on your knowledge of emission nebulae), it’s also one of the most difficult to get a truly decent picture of, as the nebula itself has such a high dynamic range.

The massive, bright blue O-class stars in the centre of the nebula ionise the gas surrounding them and make it glow, and the light that they shine also reflects off dust particles.

This picture is a composite of one hour total data in red, green and blue, and you can immediately see that the core details have been blown out to show the surrounding nebulosity. Even fainter still is the surrounding dust cocoon, which if I want to photograph, I’ll need to drag my setup to a dark sky site. That’ll be a long time coming, given that the forecast for the next week is thunderstorms and rain.

At any rate, enjoy the picture.

Orion RGB


Clear skies!

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