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Another Week, Another Astro Photo: The Orion Nebula

Another Week, Another Astro Photo: The Orion Nebula

A picture of the Orion Nebula


Last week, I posted an image of the Andromeda galaxy.  You can see the thread and a link to the image here.  I've since taken a lot more frames of Andromeda, but I'm waiting for my new Ryzen 5800x to arrive to process them since it's pretty time consuming on an i5-6600K.

Instead, this week I have a picture of the Orion nebula, made by stacking 60x 10s exposures for a total of about 10 minutes of exposure.  The Orion nebula is probably the easiest deep sky target to photograph.  Even in heavily light-polluted skies it's easy to target and take some striking images.

For the uninitiated, virtually all pictures you see of nebulae and other "deep sky" objects are actually created by using sophisticated software to combine, or "stack", dozens or hundreds of shorter individual frames.  This makes it possible to accumulate and amplify the light of faint features while negating camera sensor noise and ignoring frames with problems like camera shake or passing aircraft.

For comparison, here's an unstacked, unedited (aside from converting from RAW to JPEG), uncropped frame from the session.

Orion nebula, unstacked and unedited

You can see that, even with a good light pollution filter and only a 10s exposure, the background is quite bright.  You can also see that, despite the background brightness, the nebula stands out.  Stacking 60 frames like this, plus various calibration frames, enhances the brightness and detail of the nebula.  The resulting TIFF can then be loaded into a standard image editing program for further adjustment, resulting in the image at the top of the article.

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