M42 - The Great Orion Nebula

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About this Image

Subject The Great Orion Nebula
Objects M42 AKA NGC 1976 AKA The Great Orion Nebula, M43 AKA NGC 1982 AKA De Mairan's Nebula
Info Wikipedia entry
Data SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) database entry

The Orion Nebula is a massive nearby stellar nursery and one of the most dramatic sights you can see through any telescope.

M43 or De Mairan's Nebula is the "Ying" shaped nebulosity in the bottom left of the image, whilst M42 is the remaining bowl shaped nebulosity covering the rest of the frame. The Orion Nebula is a small but remarkably vibrant part of the surrounding OMC-1 giant molecular cloud complex that pervades the constellation of Orion.

This is a narrowband image, it uses the "hubble palette" for the false colour mapping used to represent the different elemental abundances of gases within the nebula (Red = Sulphur II, Green = Hydrogen Alpha, Blue = Oxygen III). The colours are balanced to approximately normalize the brightness contribution of each element within the image. Without this adjustment the image would be overwhelminly green due to the predominant signal from ionized Hydrogen gas.

Technical Details

Date 20111211-20120328
Location Pumpkin Patch Observatory, Bourn, Cambridge, UK
Optics Astro Optik 400mm Cassegrain @ cassegrain focus (f=3600mm)
Filters Astrodon 6nm narrowband, YR Cyclops filter wheel
Mount Paramount ME
Guiding SBIG ST402ME
Camera FLI Microline 16803
Exposure Total exposure 19.1hrs - R/SII 8.3hrs, G/Ha 2.8hrs, B/OIII 8hrs, 10 minute subs
Processing Maxim/DL 5, CCDStack, Photoshop CS
Notes The nebula is very bright, but getting good OIII and SII signal levels in the extremities does still require an investment in exposure time.
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