The Great Nebula in Orion


Subject: M42 and M43 - Great Orion Nebula and De Mairan's Nebula
Telescope: Celestron CPC 800 with f/6.3 reducer
Camera: Canon Rebel T1i
Technique (M42): 33 approximately 30 second lights at 800 ISO. Total exposure time of approximately 17 minutes. 6 darks. 50 biases.
Technique (M43): 15 approximately 30 second lights at 800 ISO. Total exposure time of approximately 8 minutes. 6 darks. 50 biases.
Prime focus. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker. Post-processing in Photoshop.

This image is a composite stitching of two images I took tonight (included below). I had originally set out to shoot M42, the Great Nebula in Orion, but accidentally pointed my telescope at the nearby M43, De Mairan’s Nebula. Surprised at the brightness, I went ahead and took a few frames. After finishing M42, I “stitched” the two images together to produce what you see. These were spur of the moment shots, so the exposure time isn’t as long as I’d like it. Future shots will likely have more detail.



There are a few minor aberrations around the edge of each of the shots that make the stars a little distorted. This is likely a collimation issue. You’ll also see some places lacking in stars. This is simply the space where the two rectangular images didn’t cover. Regardless, I have improved my ability since this version taken less than a year ago.

Behind only a few clusters and the Andromeda Galaxy, the Great Nebula in Orion is among the brightest deep sky objects. It is the brightest nebula, and can be seen easily with the naked eye (though it only looks like a fuzzy star). I’ve included a quick shot I did of the Orion constellation below, which the reader maybe familiar with, as reference. That bright smudge below Orion’s belt about 3/4 down the image is the nebula.


The Great Orion Nebula is the closest star-producing nebula to Earth and measures over 20 light years across. It is estimated that within 100,000 years the gas that gives the nebula its color will diminish and leave behind only a star cluster.

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