Orion, Flame and Horsehead Nebulae

NGC 2024, IC 434 and M42.
NGC 2024, the Flame Nebula; IC 434, the bright nebula which frames the Horse Head Nebula; M42, the Orion Nebula; and the three stars of Orion’s belt at the left.

Coming so soon on the heels of my post of the Flame and the Horsehead, one might get the impression that the constellation Orion is my favorite, but, I can explain.  It is, and has been since long before I took up astronomy.

The three brightest stars at the left end of this shot are the stars that make up Orion’s belt.  The Orion Nebula (M42) and the string of stars it is impaled on are Orion’s sword, so, yes, the picture is sideways from the way it would appear in the sky…if you could see 6 hours worth of light all at once.

Most of this image is built from 48 exposures of 450 seconds each at f/5.6 and ISO 1600, shot with the 200mm lens.  The core of M42, however, is so bright that it burns out badly at those settings, so I alternated those exposures with 31 second exposures at f/5.6 and ISO 800.

The different exposures were calibrated separately, aligned and cropped together in one batch (to keep them easy to align with each other), then stacked and processed separately before being combined in the final image.

 

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