M42 – The Great Orion Nebula

My first DSO!

M42 is often the first deep sky object that astronomers and astrophotographers look at. It’s awesome because you can just see it by looking up into the night sky. This was the case with me. Back in February, 2020, which seems like years ago but was just a few months back, I saw Orion above the roof of my house and wondered if I could photograph it.

My first blurry images were taken on a very small scope ( William Optics Zenithstar 71 – actually a lovely little scope) on a very small tracker that I’d had in my office and never used for 2 years. I was instantly knocked out by the results of just a few seconds exposure.

Over the course of 3 weeks, I refined this and bought my bigger scope. This image was taken over 3 nights in February, sometimes in temps of 18F! Thanks to my girlfriend for helping me pull a sled laden with all my equipment the 200 yards across a snowy field to get to a dark site. As a newbie, I had no idea about either guiding, or correct polar alignment, so all my exposures were really short, around 10-15 seconds. I took around 40 or so. Later, I combined the data from 3 nights and after some careful Photoshop processing, it came out really nice!

Now I was REALLY hooked 🙂

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