The Great Orion Nebula (M42) and NGC 1977 (Running Man Nebula)

All Images Copyright Steve Cannistra

Please click here or on image for a higher resolution view.
Please click here for a horizontal view.
Please click here for my latest image of the M42 region, taken with the SXV-H9 CCD camera.
Please click here for a 3-dimensional view of this region.

Magnitude:  5.0
Size: about 1.5 degrees
Distance: 1600 light years
RA: 5h 35m
Dec: minus 5 degrees 35' 54"

The Great Orion Nebula is the brightest nebula visible to the naked eye, forming the middle part of the Hunter's sword in the famous constellation Orion.   It is a breathtaking view in even small telescopes, where tendrils of gas can be appreciated even without the aid of special filters.  The use of a UHC filter improves contrast significantly and reveals a significant amount of faint nebulosity during visual observation.  The typical visual view in a telescope is pale white to faint green, due to the human eye's poor color response to low light (especially in the red, which is emitted by this nebula due to excitation of hydrogen gas as a result of radiation from newly formed stars).  In this view, the Running Man Nebula (NGC 1977) is seen at the top, a beautiful reflection nebula that derives its blue color from reflected light of nearby stars.

Photographic Details:

Date:  November 23 and
October 30, 2003.
Scope:  Takahashi Sky 90 at f4.5 with field flattener/focal reducer, piggybacked on LX90 (which is mounted on a Meade Superwedge).
Autoguider:  STV with e-finder.
Camera:  Canon 10D.
Filter:  IDAS LPS.
Exposures:  12 x 8' (November 23, 2003); 5 x 15"; 5 x 50 " (October 30, 2003), all at ISO 800.  Total exposure time approximately 100 minutes.
Conditions:  November 23: Temperature 34 degrees F; average transparency; average seeing; light winds;
October 30: Temperature 38 degrees F; below average transparency; average seeing; very breezy.
Post-processing:  Raw conversion, adaptive dark frame calibration, alignment, min/max excluded averaging done in ImagesPlus; Levels, curves, and layer mask adjustments in Photoshop; final smoothing done in Pleiades SGBNR software.  The Trapezium region consists of 2 different exposures (15" and 50", in order to capture the dynamic range in this region).  8' exposures were taken in order to capture the faint red nebulosity around the outskirts of the Orion Nebula.

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