The Orion Nebula

This is not my first image of the beautiful Orion Nebula and probably will not be my last. It was captured on a field night with Macarthur Astronomical Society, despite several equipment issues I had to deal with.

Object Details:

Messier 42, NGC 1976, LBN 974.
Constellation: Orion.
Visual magnitude: +4.0
Apparent diameter: 85 x 60.0 arc-min. (about 2 Lunar Diameters).
Actual diameter: 35 light years.
Distance: 1,400 light years.
Altitude: 41° above NE horizon.

Also visible:

Also visible in this image are: NGC 1973, NGC 1975, and NGC 1977,the Running Man Nebula; the smaller bright nebula, M43; open cluster NGC 1981.


Exposure: 52 x 90 sec = 78 min. Live stacked.
Gain 223
Date: 2018-12-03 commencing approx 11.15 pm
Location: The Oaks, NSW.
Sky: semi-dark rural.
Cloud: clear.
Moon: no.
Image acquisition software: SharpCap.
Image post-processing:  GIMP.
Cropping: no.

Imaging log:

[ZWO ASI071MC Pro]
Debayer Preview=On
Output Format=FITS files (*.fits)
Capture Area=4944×3284
Colour Space=RAW8
Hardware Binning=Off
Turbo USB=80(Auto)
Frame Rate Limit=Maximum
Timestamp Frames=Off
White Bal (B)=56(Auto)
White Bal (R)=39(Auto)
Cooler Power=100
Target Temperature=-10
Auto Exp Max Gain=300
Auto Exp Max Exp M S=30000
Auto Exp Target Brightness=100
Mono Bin=Off
Anti Dew Heater=Off
Banding Threshold=35
Banding Suppression=0
Apply Flat=None
Subtract Dark=None
#Black Point
Display Black Point=0
#MidTone Point
Display MidTone Point=0.5
#White Point
Display White Point=1

Imaging telescope: Skywatcher Esprit 120ED Super APO triplet refractor.
Focal length: 840 mm, focal ratio: f/7.
Imaging camera: ZWO ASI 071 MC Pro
Guiding: off (guide camera malfunction).
Telescope mount: SkyWatcher EQ6-R.
Polar aligning method: QHYCCD PoleMaster.
Polar alignment error: estimated 4-6 arc-min.
Field flattener: yes; filter: no.

Observing Notes:

Well, I’ve had nearly a year of frustration with my SkyWatcher EQ6 mount, which has been giving me alignment errors since January. It’s been looked at twice by the dealer and the Australian Skywatcher supplier, Tasco. They found nothing wrong and I’ve had mixed results since getting it back.

I thought it was resolved but it played up again on this occasion and I ended up manually locating this easy object so I would not come away empty-handed. I now have reason to believe it was a power supply issue and have since bought a replacement battery to power the mount.

Sharpcap live stack performed well, once I was able to begin imaging.

Other Recent Orion Posts:

November 2017
February 2018 
February 2018 (B&W)
March 2018 (Wide Field Constellation View)

My Nebula Portfolio

Image © R.Powell


  1. Hats off to you Roger, wish I could image this nebula with my new ( ish ) camera. However here in the UK the weather – shall we say, continues, and has continued since November 10th, getting withdrawal symptoms.


  2. That’s always the way, Will. The sky will almost certainly clear on a night inconvenient to you, maybe xmas day or when you have some other commitment. I’ve noticed the sky is always clear on the the nights of our astronomical society’s monthly general meetings….


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