M42 – The Orion Nebula

Object Details:

Designation:  M42, NGC 1976                          Constellation:   Orion
Visual magnitude:   +4.0                                    Apparent size:  85′ x 60′
Diameter:   34,700 light years.                        Distance:   1,400 light years

I can’t resist shooting the Orion Nebula every year – and this year I was planning to obtain a two or three hour exposure of it from our dark sky site.

However, due to the bushfire crisis, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that until next year, because I can’t imagine any dark sky observing being possible here for months to come.

The above image was taken from suburban Sydney before the smoke arrived. It was a simple thirty minute exposure which I never intended to publish – but with nothing else in the pipeline, here it is anyway.

My last astronomy post for 2019, possibly for some time to come.

What’s the latest on the bushfires, you ask?

(Warning: rant alert) There are currently 99 large fires burning in the State of New South Wales, not to mention many more in all the other states of Australia. Some are humongous mega-beasts, burning out of control for weeks.

Here in Campbelltown, the mega-fire to our East is now moving around to our South, where many homes in rural towns have just been destroyed and two firefighters have died. It has so far burnt out 1920 sq km and has merged with another fire at Katoomba to its north, adding a further 137 sq km to its total area.

Another mega-fire to the north of Sydney is listed as burning across an astonishing 4845 sq km and moving south.

For those interested, here is today’s fire map from the NSW Rural Fire Service:

2019-12-22 Bushfire

Today is the first day of summer. Temperature records are being broken, the humidity is low and the winds are gusty. Fires are burning at an unprecedented level here and across the continent.

Yet politicians in power still refuse to join the dots.

Climate change is no longer something to debate; or something which may or may not happen.

It is been here for a decade or more and is not a belief. It is a harsh and tangible reality – and it is going to get even worse.

2019-12-22 Climate Change Tweet


Image & Processing:

Date:  2019-11-07
Exposure:  21 x  88 sec  =  31 min.
Gain:  68 

Location:  outer suburban
Conditions:  bright Moon. NM+10; clear.
Sky brightness:   0.78 e/pixel/sec . 

Image acquisition:  SharpCap.
Method:  Live stacked.
Darks:  6x

Image post-processing:  GIMP.
Cropping:  no


Telescope: SkyWatcher Esprit  Type: 120 triplet refractor
Focal: 840 mm F/7 Mount: SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro
Camera: ZWO ASI 071 MC Pro
Type: CMOS 28.4mm 16 Mpx
Optical aids: Flattener: Y; filter: LP Guiding: Yes
Polar aligning: QHYCCD PoleMaster Polar Error: 2′ 25”

Geek Log:

[ZWO ASI071MC Pro]
Debayer Preview=On
Output Format=FITS files (*.fits)
Capture Area=4944×3284
Colour Space=RAW16
Hardware Binning=Off
Turbo USB=40
Frame Rate Limit=4 fps
Timestamp Frames=Off
White Bal (B)=50
White Bal (R)=53
Cooler Power=83
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=On
Banding Threshold=35
Banding Suppression=0
Apply Flat=None
Subtract Dark=C:\Users\Roger\Desktop\SharpCap Captures\darks\ZWO ASI071MC Pro\RAW16@4944×3284\88.9s\gain_68\dark_6_frames_-10.0C_2019-11-07T10_56_03.fits
#Black Point
Display Black Point=0.0238095238095238
#MidTone Point
Display MidTone Point=0.547619047619048
#White Point
Display White Point=1


Also in image: M43, NGC1980, NGC 1975 & NGC 1981.

See my above image with Astrometry.net annotated overlay.

Images © Roger Powell

2018-03-10 Telescope & Roger




  1. First, a remarkably beautiful image of M 42. No surprise there. More: I had hoped “your” fires had diminished, being falsely and naively influenced by “our” seasonal ending of this year’s west coast forest fires, primarily in California. But your situation, particularity as it only being the beginning of your summer, obviously does not bode well, and although only a minor aspect in the scope of it (no pun intended,) we will miss your hopefully temporary suspension of deep sky imaging. Finally, I wholeheartedly agree with your last three sentences, and remain dumbfounded as to certain political adgendacising to the contrary. M 😦


    1. Thanks for your regular comments on my photos, much appreciated.
      As for the fires, we need some heavy rainfall to dampen them down but there is none forecast, so the dry fuel will continue to burn.
      I am as dumbfounded as you are by the blind stupidity of the current batch of political leaders.
      Best wishes for 2020.


  2. When I was a child, the seasons behaved as expected: Spring – windy, a bit of rain and sunshine with all the trees and hedgerows coming to life. Summer – warm lazy days, the odd heatwave that would cause a hosepipe ban, cracks in the earth followed by rain and the odd thunder storm, crops ripening in the vegetable garden and farmers fields. Autumn – crops being harvested, the odd thunderstorm, lengthening clear nights to see the stars. Winter – lots of rain, flooded fields that would freeze over so you could slide over them in your wellies, cold crisp days, snow 6 feet deep to the tops of hedges, clear nights to see Orion by. Now the opposit is true. Floods, crops rotting in the water logged fields, cloud cover most of the time so crops cant rippen, more hurricane storms and rain, regular extreme weather warnings and this at any time of year.
    World overpopulation, consumerism and greed, deforestation, air, land and sea pollution and now were polluting the space around our planet with satellites and debris ( Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster, WHY FOR F’S SAKE ), and sadly no amount of Greta Thunberg’s will change anything.


    1. I sometimes compare (unfavourably) human brains to computers. The need to process and interact is the same.

      However, computers run on a small number of operating platforms, communicate using agreed protocols and “think” using consistent logic. Replace one Windows 10 computer with another and you will get the same results.

      Humans have countless agendas; communicate in a multitude of languages & dialects; and have seven billion differing opinions.

      We can never agree on a sensible course of action on anything important like maintaining an environment in which we can survive. Put all our problems into a super computer and it will never come up with a solution which involves carrying on doing what you are doing.

      Human civilisation has peaked and the future will never be the same.


Leave a comment or ask a question . . . .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s