M42 Orion Nebula

M42 Orion and NGC1977 Running Man Nebula; captured from Kiowa National Grasslands, New Mexico on 29 January 2022


The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way, being south of Orion’s Belt in the constellation of Orion, and is known as the middle “star” in the “sword” of Orion. It is one of the brightest nebulae and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky with apparent magnitude 4.0. It is 1,344 ± 20 light-years (412.1 ± 6.1 pc) away and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light-years across (so its apparent size from Earth is approximately 1 degree). It has a mass of about 2,000 times that of the Sun. Older texts frequently refer to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula.

Subtype: Reflection/Emission Nebula
Distance from Earth: 1,344 ± 20 light years
Size (radius): 12 light years
Size (apparent dimensions): 1°30’ x 1°
Visual Magnitude: 4.0
Constellation: Orion

{ Information from: Stellarium and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_Nebula }


Imaging Stream: Orion 8″ f/8 Ritchey-Chretien Astrograph Telescope, Canon EOS Ra

Mount: Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro Equatorial Mount,

Autoguider: Orion 60mm Multi-Use Guide Scope, Orion StarShoot AutoGuider Pro Mono Astrophotography Camera,

Equipment controlled by HP Probook running Sequence Generator Pro v3.2.0.660


Sequence plan: ISO1600; 40x180sec + 25x5sec; Total = 2:02 hours
Capture: 29Jan2022, 2250MST – 30Jan2022, 0110MST
Shooting location: Kiowa National Grasslands, New Mexico
Processing: Stacked (3minute and 5 second exposures separately) in Astro Pixel Processor (APP). Processed as layers in Photoshop.

Other random notes: After running a series of “experiments” with various light pollution filters from my (Bortle Class 6) home in Colorado Springs, CO – this image convinced me that dark skies ARE better!


Wide field of view image

This image was captured early in my astrophotography practice – before I mastered the art of using an equatorial mount and telescope for imaging. This image was captured in the dark skies of the Kiowa National Grasslands of NE New Mexico with my Canon EOS 60D astro-modified camera and a 135mm lens. The camera was on a star tracker, controlled with a remote shutter release.

M42 Orion & NGC1975 Running Man & IC434 Horsehead Nebulae; captured at Mills Canyon, Kiowa National Grasslands; 16 January 2021 with Canon 60Da and 135mm lens

Light Pollution Filter Test

After getting two Optolong light pollution filters, executed a test to evaluate the image quality with each on a “known” object. These two images of M42 Orion were taken from the front patio of my house in Bortle 6 Colorado Springs, Colorado with the Canon EOS Ra camera, 8″ R-C telescope and the Optolong light pollution filter noted in the image caption.

M42 Orion Nebula; captured from Colorado Springs, Colorado on 28 February 2022. Big Bertha, Canon EOS Ra with Optolong L-Pro light pollution filter
M42 Orion Nebula; captured from Colorado Springs, Colorado on 28 February 2022. Big Bertha, Canon EOS Ra with Optolong L-eXtreme light pollution filter