Orion Nebula

This is one of my favorite nebulae to image. It’s rare to have such a bright nebula that you can image it in broadband, and it not just turn out all red. In fact, it’s so bright that it’s tricky to get it to appear right. Normally you want the longest exposure you can keep your camera steady for, minutes if you can. But astro cameras have something called a “mean well” which is how many photons the camera sensor can absorb before being fully saturated, and it’ll ignore or randomize new photons coming in, making your photo worse. This nebula is so bright, that I could only do a 60 second exposure before coming dangerously close to that limit. This nebula is so bright, that visual astronomers can see color with their own eye in a telescope, I don’t think any other nebula can boast that brightness.

The Orion Nebula is just below the sword belt in the orion constellation. If you look at the leftmost star in the belt, and follow it down and to the left you’ll see another star that makes up the “sword” of the constellation. Between those two stars is this nebula.

You don’t have to have a fancy telescope to see this one, take out a pair of binoculars and look some fall/winter night! Be warned though, this is the gateway drug to astronomy. It’ll hook you.