During Melbourne Covid lockdown #1 in March last year, I decided to learn automation – along the way and with much fiddling and frustration; I’ve tried Kstars/Ekos directly on the mac, Voyager on PC, SGP on PC and finally … Stellarmate!

This is my first image from my new Stellarmate/Rpi4/KStars/Ekos Macbook pro combo and I’m delighted, not so much because it’s good ol’ M42, but because I took it while sitting on the couch as the ‘Scope- Plate solved, Locked on, Auto focussed, Calibrated, Guided, Changed filters, Meridian flipped and did it all over again for three nights!

Still some minor niggles with porting and multi-star guiding to resolve, but nearly there now = A full night’s sleep while imaging at last!

I chose M42 because it’s big, bright and required meridian flips to image during the night. Now most folks would agree that M42 looks best in broadband LRGB, so it’s a great challenge to try and produce a pleasing narrowband colour palette.

I mapped colours of the Running Man & Fan to balance emissions using Eric Coles Localised Histogram balancing method.

3 Hrs each 5nm Ha & S2, 3 Hrs 3nm O3 from my light polluted suburban location in Melbourne, Australia. Average seeing, Bortle 5/6 skies. Processed in APP & PS CC 2020 using Starnet++ &  Topaz NR.

M42 Nebula narrowband
M42 Nebula narrowband

Capture Details

TelescopeTakahashi TOA 130
CameraQSI 6162 WSG8
MountTakahashi NJP
FiltersChroma 5nm Ha & S2, O3 (3nm) filters.
Guiding CameraStarlight Xpress Lodestar X2
Integration time (Exposure)11.0 hrs
LocationBurwood, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
DateDec, 2020

About this Nebula

Few cosmic vistas excite the imagination like the Orion Nebula. Also known as M42, the nebula’s glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1,500 light-years away. The Orion Nebula offers one of the best opportunities to study how stars are born partly because it is the nearest large star-forming region, but also because the nebula’s energetic stars have blown away obscuring gas and dust clouds that would otherwise block our view – providing an intimate look at a range of ongoing stages of starbirth and evolution.

Fire in the Sky!

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“Smoke on the water, a Fire in the Sky”

- Deep Purple