Diffuse Nebula M42 (NGC 1976), an emission and reflection nebula, in Orion

RA 05:35.4 DEC -05:27; distance 1600 light years;
visual brightness 4.0 magnitude; Apparent Dimension 85x60 (arc min)

The Orion Nebula is a big object in the sky, covering roughly four times the area of the full Moon. This corresponds to a linear diameter of about 30 light years. It is also one of the brightest Deep Sky objects,

Source and more: SEDS

In a very old book we read the following:
"Can you hold back the stars? Can you restrain Orion or Pleiades?
Can you ensure the proper sequence of the seasons, or guide the constellation of the Bear with her satellites across the heavens?
Do you know the laws of the universe and how the heavens influence the earth?"

Indeed: these are words from the Bible and you can find them in the book Job (chapter 38:31) where God questions Job and shows a glimpse of Who He is.

Nobody knows the real colours of the Orion Nebula. The light coming from the nebula is too faint for the colour sensitive part (the retina) of our eyes, but the rod cells - which are not colour sensitive - can see the nebula in shades of grey only.
In Sky & Telescope of September 2002 is an article about the people of NASA who are responsible for the images from the Hubble Space Telescope.
In short their main goal is to publish images that contains lots of details and are pleasing to see.
I try to follow in their footsteps and am learning how to do the post processing of my images. Also it is a matter of personal taste, of course. Therefore my images - even of the same object - might differ in colour; however I will always try to make it pleasing to the eye and at the same time convey the scientific truth.


M42 - The Great Orion Nebula.
March 5, 2008 19:19 - 19:25 UT.
Imaging: LX200-10 inch, f/10 with f/3.3 Meade Focal Reducer operating at f/5.08 [focal length 1270 mm], ATK16IC camera, Astronomik Ha filter.
Exposures: Ha: 6x35s [1x1]; unguided.

M42 - The Great Orion Nebula.
December 17, 2007 21:27 - 22:10 UT.
Imaging: William Optics Zenithstar 80 ED II APO with Meade 3.3 Focal Reducer at f/3 [focal length 240 mm], ATK16IC camera, Astronomik HaRGB filters.
Exposures: Ha: 5x30s + 14x120s; RGB: 5x30s; all unguided.

M42 - The Great Orion Nebula.
Not a serious imaging attempt, but I could not resist a quick try.
November 29, 2007 23:50 - 23:52 UT.
Imaging: William Optics Zenithstar 80 ED II APO with Meade 3.3 Focal Reducer at f/3 [focal length 240 mm], ATK16IC camera, Astronomik Ha filter.
Exposures: Ha only: 5x30s; unguided.
December 15, 2006 21:36 - 21:40 UT.
Imaged with LX200 10-inch f/10 telescope with 0.33 Focal Reducer operating at f/4.06 [focal length 1015mm] and Baader Infra Red Blocking Filter.
Camera: Vesta Pro SC3a b/w RAW webcam, 47 unguided exposures of 3.5 seconds.
January 31, 2006 20:25 UT.
Yet another test with the Meade f/3.3 focal reducer on my Alt/Az mounted 10-inch f/10 Meade LX200 Classic with SC3 camera.
This time I used a custom made M42 ring to mount the SC3 colour camera on the focal reducer.
Imaging: LX200-10 inch, f/10 [Alt/Az mounted] with f/3.3 Meade Focal Reducer f/5.68 [focal length 1420 mm].
SC3acolour camera; 15x6 seconds [unguided and without PEC]; Baader IRB filter.
January 29, 2006 21:29 UT.
I was testing my new Meade f/3.3 focal reducer on my Alt/Az mounted 10-inch f/10 Meade LX200 Classic with SC3 camera to see if any long exposure was possible in Alt/Az, and here is the result.
Imaging: LX200-10 inch, f/10 [Alt/Az mounted] with f/3.3 Meade Focal Reducer f/4.12 [focal length 1030 mm].
SC3acolour camera; 10x6 seconds [unguided and without PEC]; Baader IRB filter.

December 10, 2003 00:19 - 00:44 UT.
135mm SLR Photolens and 2x Teleconverter.
YRGB and Loreal post processing.

February 3, 2003 20:09 - 20:45 UT
Mosaic of 6 AVIs.


January 23, 2003 21:46 UT
Imaged with Baader Infra Red Blocking filter



This is a raw unprocessed image.
The sky as seen from my observatory on January 17, 2003 20:22 UT
This map shows where to find the Great Orion Nebula.
October 4, 2002 04:05 - 04:20 UT
The beautiful Orion Nebula.


The heart of the Orion Nebula: the Trapezium.
This consists of 4 rather bright stars and 2 fainter ones: the E and F components.
There are even also the G and H components, but these are beyond the capabilities of my telescope.
Imaging the E and F stars is not easy, because these dim stars are separated from their brighter companions by only 4 arc seconds. The exposure duration and seeing conditions usually cause the two fainter stars to become part of the blob of the brighter stars.
Magnitudes: A: Variable 6.8 to 7.7; B: Eclipsing Binary 7.9; C: 5.1 ; D: 6.7; E and F: both magnitude 11.

In the cold night of December 13, 2001 I made my first image of the Trapezium.