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Messier 42 - the Orion Nebula


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About this observation
Graham Roberts
Time of observation
24/02/2019 - 20:40
Messier 42
Observing location
Fairvale Observatory – Redhill – Surrey – UK
William Optics GT81 + 0.80 x Focal Reducer FL 382mm f4.72
ZWO1600MM-Cool mono CMOS sensor
(A) L 20 x 180 sec R 24×180 sec G 25 x 180 B 24 x 180sec Ha 17 x 180sec (Total time: 5hr 30 minutes) (B) 12 x 60 sec HaLRGB (Total time: 1hr) @ 139 Gain 21 Offset @ -20oC
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Although by late February Orion is crossing the Meridian early in the evening, darkness is still prevalent at the same time and with the aforementioned good conditions it’s been a bonus to catch more of Orion’s objects before they finally disappear for the year.  I’ve successfully imaged some parts of Orion before with the ZWO1600MM-Cool camera but for various reasons they’ve mostly been short integration times in narrowband.  It was therefore obvious that given this unexpected opportunity, on this occasion I should attempt to image everyone’s astrophotography favourite – M42 the Orion Nebula in LRGB.

At some 1,500 light years distant, M42 is the closest large star forming nebula to Earth and always offers great promise when imaging.  I’d previously obtained some good images of the Orion Nebula with a modded-DSLR camera and more recently a few narrowband images in 2017 showed the promise of using the new ZWO CMOS mono camera.  Now, with unusually good weather I wanted to try and achieve an image that really showed off M42 and its neighbours M43 and the Running Man Nebula (SH-279) in all their glory, paying particular attention to the more difficult inner structures and associated Ha nebulosity.  In order to achieve this I first imaged in HaLRGB at 180 sec exposures with Unity settings for 5½ hours and then at shorter 60 sec exposures for 1 hour over three consecutive nights.

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