Goodbye to Orion

Now that we’ve got to mid-March, Orion is, of course, beginning to sink down in the west after sunset. The image below is a last attempt this season at capturing the splendour of the Horsehead Nebula. Starting before it was properly dark, this monochrome image, taken with the Atik through the 8″ LX200R, is composed from 10 x 5min exposures through a hydrogen alpha filter.

M78 in Orion

Continuing the tour of Orion, here is an image of the bright reflection nebula M78. M78 is actually the nebula just below centre; above that is another reflection nebula, NGC2071, while to the right of M78 is NGC 2067. Taken through the ED80 with the Atik 314L+, this image was put together from 30 x 5min luminance frames taken through an Astronomik CLS filter, with the colour being added from 15 x 2 min each of R, G and B, binned 2×2.

I have quite a lot of light pollution due south, and although the CLS filter helped a lot, it didn’t remove all the effects of the light, so this needed some careful processing. HOwever, the dark dust lanes running through the region are clearly visible.

How to remove the bright lights of Royston…

Well, we finally got a clear night on Sunday, but as I was half way through rebuilding my laptop, I was unable to do any real photography, so decided to take one or two wide-field images using just the camera, with 200mm lens, mounted on the EQ6. The reason for this is that although I have a very clear south south-eastern horizon, I do have to put up with the bright lights of Royston in the distance, and I wanted to see if a gradient removal algorithm I’ve been working on was any good.

Below on the left is a shot of the Southern Orion region. It’s a stack of 10 x 30sec exposures at f/2.8, ISO1600, and as you can see, it’s very badly affected by the lights in the distance. I’ve been playing about with some code written in Matlab to see if I could come up with anything that would be able to model the gradient satisfactorily, and remove it, and the result is shown below. on the right. Hey presto, it works!!

It’s not perfect, and still needs a bit more work, but it’ll be something to do on a rainy night!

Orion Nebula

Clear skies again tonight. This is shot taken with my little-used Atik 2C. The final image is a stack of 42 separate exposures of either 2, 5 or 10 seconds duration, taken through the Equinox ED80. The individual frames were then processed in Images Plus v3.
Not a great picture, but I guess it’s maybe not too bad for an 8 bit camera like the Atik.