Primordial Light: M42 in Strange Light
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M42 in HαBB


November 14, 2010. This is a cure for all of those great, but look-alike photos of M42 that one sees around the web. It sometimes happens that things go wrong yet there is still a happy ending. In this instance I could not get red images to suit me, probably due to thin haze that was reflecting diffuse light from reddish light pollution, so I used Hydrogen alpha (Hα) for the red channel. Then, knowing that I would not have time to get both the green and blue channels, I decided to go for the blue, which in my mind is more important for M42 than green, anyway. I was working remotely, controlling the Mac in the observatory from a Mac in the house, and I did not see the clouds forming. (I guess I need to get a sky-monitoring camera.) There were meant to be 16 five-minute blue exposures, but I got only six—just 30 minutes—and three of them were made through clouds. I used them anyway. That accounts for the soft blue haze surrounding the brighter stars. The upshot is that this photo was made with Hα, blue, and water-vapor filters—this is an HαBB photo. It may also contain traces of a satellite track that I did not completely remove in Photoshop.

SBIG STL-11000M camera on a Takahashi FSQ-106ED astrograph. 80 minutes of Hα, 30 minutes of blue. Software: TheSkyX, Nebulosity, Equinox, PHD, Pixinsight, Photoshop, all running on Mac OSX Snow Leopard.

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Orion's Belt in Hα
November 18, 2010. Orion’s Sword is familiar sight. The gas and dust visible here are part of the Orion molecular cloud, another part of which is seen here. I used a Takahashi FSQ-106 is working at its native focal length of 530mm. SBIG STL-11000 with Astrodon 3 nm filter. All-Mac Image.
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