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Orion Image Gallery: Your Astrophotos

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As we approach the Full Moon in March, we have to accept the fact that the stunning winter deep-sky astrophotography objects have faded into the West for another year.  Galaxy Season is upon us, with new and exciting imaging opportunities for your camera and telescope.  Before I dive into some of the Spring deep-sky targets on my agenda, I’ve decided to honor the amazing images captured by fellow amateur astrophotographers from around the world over the winter.

astrophotography blogI reached out to the AstroBackyard community on Facebook, asking everyone to share their images of Orion this winter.  I am happy to report that I received a large number of submissions for this gallery. The images were shot of various regions of the Orion constellation, using a wide variety of astrophotography equipment and processing methods.

Orion Image Gallery: Your Astrophotos

The following images are from fans of the AstroBackyard Facebook page.  Please respect the photographers work by not using their amazing images without their permission.

Richard Hum:Horsehead Nebula and Orion Nebula wide field

Description: 

This is a blend of two captures, one for HH/Flame, and another for M42. Shot on my unmodified Canon 760D with a 70-200mm 2.8 lens on a Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer.
I love the Star Adventurer as a portable tracking setup, it tracks fairly accurately and has the option of autoguiding if I want in the future.

Scott Hartney:

Orion Nebula with 11" Celestron SCT

Description: 

New to astronomy, this is my first attempt at capturing an image. Taken with my Nikon D5100 through a Celestron 11″ SCT. It is a short 10-second exposure. I am still learning the scope and BackyardNIKON software.

Jason Smith:

Orion Nebula ED80

Description: 

This was my first trial with the Explore Scientific ED80 earlier this winter. View Jason’s AstroBin Profile.

Aidi Williams:

Horsehead and Flame Nebula

Description: 

This was the best of what I managed to capture. Sky-Watcher Esprit 120, EOS 600D, 0.6X Reducer.

Victor Van Puyenbroeck:

Orion Nebula - Orion ST80 Achromat

Description: 

Taken with a cheap Orion ST80 achromat, so the stars are not very pretty but the nebula is definitely there! Processed in PixInsight. View Victor’s AstroBin Profile.

Tudor Vlad C:

Orion Nebula in Ha with QHY163m

Description: 

Luminance only HDR image. 3min, 30-second, and 10-second exposures. QHY163m and a 6 inch newt. 1.7 hours total. Full-resolution image on Flickr.

Tiago Narcisco:

Witch Head Nebula

Description: 

This is my attempt at the elusive Witch Head Nebula, taken with a Canon 600D and a 200mm lens on a Star Adventurer Mount. View Tiago’s Astrobin Profile.

Description: 

Widefield shot of Orion, Running Man, Flame and Horsehead nebulas. 600D with 200mm lens on a Star Adventurer Mount.

Wade Smith:

Description: 

Ha-RGB-HDR, 5hrs, 45 min. 70-200mm with a 2x teleconverter, AVX mount, Lacerta MGEN auto-guiding (stand alone). 3:45 RGB – 2:00 Ha, a few 15 & 30 sec. No support data, the AG uses dithering. Looking back, I should’ve added more Ha time, flats and bias frames.

Description: 

Wide field at 200mm, about an hour of data.

Tammy Zorde:

Description: 

Only a single image/no dark (this was just a test shot before guiding started). 8″ Newt, canon 5dmkii, 30secs, iso1600, processed in Adobe Lightroom.

John Januszewski:

Description: 

Taken with a Celestron C8 with a .63 focal reducer and a Canon T4i camera.

Manuel Cortez:

Description: 

Mount: Celestron AVX,  Camera: Canon xs (unmodded), Guider: Orion StarShoot Autoguider with 50 mm scope, OTA: 80mm Sky-Watcher.

Mike Aitken:

Max Beier:

Cris Cros:

Description: 

Jan 19th 14mn d330 Celestron Nexstar 4se. View Cris’ Time Lapse Video on YouTube.

Nazame Anuar:

Description: 

Jan 22 single shot, lots to learn!

Kurt Zeppetello:

Orion Nebula - Kurt Zeppetello

Description: 

Click here for full-resolution image and description on Kurt’s Website.

If you have questions about any of the photos in this Orion image gallery, feel free ask on the AstroBackyard Facebook page.  The community of backyard deep-sky astrophotographers continues to grow, with a focus on positive feedback for beginners. This is also where I share my personal experiences in astrophotography as I learn more.

View my latest version of the Orion Nebula

Desire, Dedication, and Determination

I know how much work goes into producing images of deep-sky objects like the ones above.  Not only does it require technical knowledge and patience, it requires cooperation from the weather.  It also means spending time alone in the dark for hours on end!  The fact is, we weren’t really alone, we were all photographing the same area of space together.

Orion Nebula through a telescope

My first “real” attempt at M42 vs. my latest version (2017)

Latest Blog Tutorial: Deep-Sky Image Processing in Photoshop

Thank you to everyone who participated in the post, and for sharing your hard work with those who wish to dive into astrophotography for themselves.  Seeing real results from amateurs using modest equipment is inspiring.  Your image may have sparked the passion in a new amateur astrophotographer.  If that someone is you, then I urge you to join the AstroBackyard.

Astrophotography should be enjoyable at every step.  Remember the feeling you got the first time you saw color from a nebula in your camera and hang on to it. 

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Astrophotography in the City

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Saturday Night Under the Stars

Astrophotography in the City

Last weekend I posted a new video to the my YouTube channel titled DSLR Astrophotography – A Night in the Backyard with my Camera. It is now Early-April, and we are in what amateur astrophotographers call “Galaxy Season”, as we transition from the Winter Constellations like Orion and Taurus, to the Summer Milky Way objects.  In between, there are some fantastic deep-sky objects to observe in the Spring Constellations Leo, Coma Berenices and Bootes.

The forecast called for clear skies on that crisp, cold Saturday night in Southern Ontario, and I was ready to image some deep-sky objects with my camera and telescope.  After a late dinner, it was a race against the clock to photograph my first subject of the evening, the Waxing Crescent Moon. If you want to jump straight to the video, you can find it at the bottom of this post.

Live-View DSLR Through a Telescope

Using the Canon 70D’s live view screen for telescope observing

Crescent Moon Astrophotography

 

I barely had time to get the beautiful Waxing Crescent moon into my telescope’s eyepiece before it became obscured by the surrounding trees in my neighborhood!  I shot a live-view video of the moon (with Earthshine visible) with my Canon EOS 70D DSLR through the telescope.  This may be of interest to anyone wondering what the view is like through an 80mm refractor telescope.  You need an adapter to attach the camera to the telescope, which you can buy online here.

After I focused the Moon and experimented with different ISO settings and exposure lengths, I snapped a couple of shots before moving on with the rest of my night.  You can have a look at the equipment I use for astrophotography here.

 

Earthshine Moon

The sky from my backyard

Next, I wanted to provide some examples of the dark-sky quality from my backyard.  Living in the central part of town has its advantages, but dark skies are not one of them!  I experience heavy light pollution from all directions.  This makes using a light-pollution filter on my camera necessary for long exposures.  Currently, I use the IDAS LPS clip-in filter on my Canon Rebel Xsi DSLR.  This allows to me to capture exposures of up to 5 minutes from my backyard.

 

Astrophotography in the City

The night sky from my backyard on April 9, 2016

 

The Big Dipper Asterism

Looking towards the Big Dipper in Ursa Major

Deep-Sky Target: Edge-On Spiral Galaxy in Coma Berenices

NGC 4565 – The Needle Galaxy

Once the moon had set, I promptly prepared my deep-sky astrophotography rig for a night’s worth of photons on my photography subject.  I settled on NGC 4565 – The Needle Galaxy because of it’s size, magnitude, and current location in our night sky.  The Needle Galaxy is an edge-on spiral galaxy that resides about 30-50 million lights years from Earth.  This handsome galaxy is the current photo in my 2016 RASC Observer’s Calendar hanging in my office at work, perhaps that is what gave me the idea!

Astrophotography in the City - Needle Galaxy from my backyard

NGC 4565 – The Needle Galaxy

Photographed on: April 9/10, 2016

Total Exposure Time: 54 Minutes (18 x 3 Min. Subs @ ISO 1600)
Mount: Sky-Watcher HEQ-5 Pro
Camera: Canon 450D (modified)
Telescope: Explore Scientific ED80 Triplet Apo

Guided with PHD Guiding
Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker
Processed in Adobe Photoshop CC

This interesting NGC object shows up rather small in my 80mm telescope, as many galaxies do.  A larger telescope with a focal length of 1000mm or more would be a better choice for this DSO.  I also had a bit of a challenge evening out the background colour of this image.  Flat frames would have made this issue much easier to deal with in post-processing.  With just under an hour of exposure time, it is safe to say that I will need to add more time to this image to bring out the colour and detail.


AstroBackyard on Youtube

I am completely blown away with the response to my YouTube Channel has received.  Thank you to everyone who has subscribed, I look forward to many new astrophotography videos in the future!

Beginner Advice:

What’s the best telescope for astrophotography?

Which camera do you recommend for beginners?

Astrophotography Settings and Tips

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Double Cluster in Perseus

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Perseus Double Cluster

NGC 869 and NGC 884

Date Photographed: February 1, 2016

Total Exposure Time: 30 Minutes (60 x 30″ frames @ ISO 800)
Mount: Skywatcher HEQ-5 Pro Synscan
Camera: Canon EOS 7D (stock)
Camera Lens: Canon EF 300mm F/4L

Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker
Processed in Adobe Photoshop CC

The clear sky chart for my area stated that the skies were to be clear for approximately 2 hours on Monday night. That was all the inspiration I needed to head out to the backyard and do some experimenting. Nights like this are perfect for trying out new techniques and equipment. Anything I get is a bonus.

Wide Field Astrophotography

I’ve tried imaging using my Canon EF 300mm F/4 L once before, but it was prime-time milky way season, and I just couldn’t do any more testing on that short July night.  When time and opportunities are in limited supply, I always go with the tried-and-true system (Explore Scientific ED80 and Canon Xsi)

However, Monday night I gave my Bird Photography camera (Canon EOS 7D) a go at the night sky, with the 300mm lens in place of a telescope. But what target requires a nice wide field of view, short exposures, and is something I’ve never given any serious thought to?  NGC 869 and NGC 884: Open star clusters in the constellation Perseus.

These pretty star clusters are now almost directly overhead around 8:00pm.

Double Cluster - Stars

Since I do not own an intervalometer for this DSLR, I was limited to 30″ exposures.  Fortunately star clusters tend to come out very nice using stacks of shorter exposure lengths.  The photos above are a stack of 60 x 30″ frames at ISO 800. The second image is cropped to frame the double cluster in the center of the image.

Canon 7D for astrophotography

I might have to try this setup for a full night of imaging on an area with interesting deep-sky treasures. A few of the obvious drawbacks of this system are the short exposure times, lack of light-pollution filter, and a non-modified DSLR. Not to mention, I am not automating the imaging session with BackyardEOS. For my laptop is in use, watching a blu-ray in the garage;) (Wonders of the Universe)

Astrophotography with a Canon 7D

After capturing a respectable amount of photons on the double cluster in Perseus, I couldn’t resist trying this lens on the Orion Nebula. There it was, just taunting me in the distance.  I snapped some 30 second exposures off with the 7D and the telephoto lens.  It was fun to see the colorful images of the nebula appear on the lcd display, every 30 seconds.  The photo below is the result of my quick trial.

Wide field Orion Nebula image

Orion Nebula taken with Canon 7D and 300mm Lens

 

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M42 – The Gorgeous Orion Nebula

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Located below Orion’s Belt, the Orion Nebula is now gracing our skies each night

The skies were clear in Niagara last weekend, so I set up my telescope for a night of astrophotography imaging. There are so many great imaging options at this time of year. The Pleiades, the Pacman Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Triangulum Galaxy and the Dumbbell Nebula are all on display right now, to name a few.

I settled on the Orion Nebula because it’s an “all-nighter” object from my backyard viewing area. I set my trusty Canon 450D to capture 60 three minute exposures while I slept. The focusing, framing and camera control was all accomplished with my new favorite piece of astronomy software, Backyard EOS.

I find that I am able to achieve an extra tight focus on this deep-sky object because of the 4 stars (Trapezium) located within the Orion Nebula. They seem to be the perfect size for my cameras live-view preview screen at 10 X view. I may use this “focus-test” for imaging nearby objects in Orion such as the Rosette Nebula and M78. I’ll calibrate the mount, hop over to M42 for a tight focus, and then frame the new object up afterward.

I decided to include the Running Man Nebula (NGC 1973, NGC 1975 and NGC 1977) because I feel that it completes the image and fits so nicely in my field of view. A larger telescope would be more suited for an isolated shot of Messier 42 on its own.

Orion Nebula - Astrophotography Image

M42, NGC 1973, NGC 1975, NGC 1977

PHOTO DETAILS

50 x 3 min frames @ ISO 800
Total Exposure Time = 2 Hours, 30 Minutes
20 Dark Frames Subtracted
Canon Xsi Camera through 80mm APO Refractor

Learn how I process my images in Adobe Photoshop (Tutorial)

How to find M42 – The Orion Nebula

If you want to locate this glorious nebula, you will first have to locate the Orion constellation in the night sky. It is very easy to spot, if you’re looking at the right time of year. The winter months in The Northern Hemisphere are the perfect time to get familiarized with this exquisite creation of the Heavens. The constellation is unmistakable once after you spot the three medium-bright stars in a short, straight row that make up Orion’s belt.

The Orion Nebula is perhaps the best deep sky target for a beginner. Here are some general tips for getting started in astrophotography:

Beginner Astrophotography – How to Get Started and What You Need

Under dark skies, you should be able to find the Orion Nebula quite easily below Orion’s Belt. A careful observation with the naked eye will reveal a curved line of stars “hanging” from the three stars of Orion’s belt. This collection of stars represent Orion’s Sword. Look for Orion Nebula (also known as M42) about midway down the Sword of Orion. Your eyes will see it as a small, hazy white spot. A long-exposure photograph like the one above brings out substantially more detail than can be observed with the naked eye.

The constellation of Orion

Observing the Orion Constellation this Winter

M42 is a wondrous sight through a pair of binoculars. Start by locating the three stars in Orion’s belt, and move downward towards Orion’s sword. You will know when you have found the Orion Nebula because it is one of the most rewarding celestial treasures one can observe.

This enormous cloud of gas and dust lies approximately 1,300 light years from Earth. This giant nebulous cocoon is giving birth to an estimated 1000 stars. The four brightest stars located within the open star cluster included in the nebula, are known as the Trapezium and can be distinguished when looking through a backyard telescope.

field of view

The Orion Nebula imaged through a Meade 70mm APO telescope. 

I plan on observing and imaging this brilliant winter constellation over the next few months. I hope I have inspired you to get out with your binoculars or telescope and enjoy the beauty of the night sky with your family!

Orion Nebula Video Close Up

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LRGB Processing Technique for Orion

Astrophotography LRGB Processing Technique

A useful guide to processing the Orion Constellation using a DSLR Camera and Tripod

From the very moment this video started, I knew I was in for a real treat. The motion control time-lapse of the Milky Way moving across the sky was the perfect primer for this high production, quality tutorial. Lonelyspeck.com is an informative and beautiful website created by Ian Norman –  A full-time traveller and photographer. In the following video he will explain how to process a photo of the Orion Constellation using the LRGB processing technique. He stacks multiple exposures to reduce noise, corrects vignetting, and greatly enhances the contrast and colour of the photo.  The exact camera settings he used, including ISO, exposure length and aperture details are shared.

He uses nothing more than a regular tripod and a DSLR camera equipped with a standard prime lens. The location he chose for this tutorial was Red Rock State Park in California.  The initial processing steps take place in Adobe Lightroom, a different approach than I currently use. Based on this tutorial, I may need to incorporate Adobe Lightroom into my astrophotography processing workflow.

Another major difference in this photographer’s technique is the fact that he stacked the photos directly in Adobe Photoshop as opposed to a third-party software like Deep Sky Stacker. I have heard of a lot of astrophotographers who swear by this method. One thing to note is that stacking via “photomerge” in photoshop will consume a large amount of RAM on your system, and could result in a system crash. Be sure to have your work saved, and have some time set-aside for this process to take place.

One of the biggest factors in the amazing results Ian was able to achieve, was the pristine dark skies he was able to shoot in. It is not possible to bring out the faint details seen here from the city. I can’t wait to try this tutorial myself. I am amazed at how much detail he was able to pull out from such short exposures. I hope that you find this tutorial as invaluable as I did.

 
 

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