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Steven Noyes | all galleries >> Galleries >> Images Winter 2008 > Milky Way Galaxy : M42
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Winter 2008 Steven Noyes

Milky Way Galaxy : M42

Milky Way Galaxy : M42 view map

The area of Orion has some of the most stunning displays of nebulosity seen in the sky. The most famous of these is the Great Nebula in Orion's sword. On a clear night out in the dark country side, this grouping of stars looks a bit fuzzy to the unaided eye. With binoculars, the fact this is a nebula is clear. With a medium telescope, you can even see color and this is unique for a nebula since all others are to dim to activate the color receptors in the eye.

What is hard on this nebula photographically, is there is also very faint nebulosity in the area equally as detailed and pretty as the bright center core which is home to the Trapezium. The trapezium is a small grouping of 4 stars that are just resolved in the full resolution of this image and are at the brightest part of the nebula. The outer wings, however, are 1,000's of times dimmer making a simple image difficult to take.

To process this, it is best to take different exposures, stack them together and then use unsharp masking techniques to bring out the details throughout the image.

Canon EOS 40D ,Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM
30 1 minute frames @ ISO 1600
30 30 second frames @ ISO 200

Shot using a Losmandy G-11 Tracking mount.
Combined in PanoTools/Custom. full exif

other sizes: small medium large original auto
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Ernst Wouda 03-Mar-2009 08:19
Excellent image!
If you want to explore this kind of photography, look at
There you'll find a tracking mount that lets you make comparable photos.
To overcome stellar shift you can stack photos by using Registax or some comparable software.

Have fun!
DJ 21-Dec-2008 04:44
How did you manage to solve the problem of "Stellar shift"? The 30-1 min images and 30-30secon images means you would have had to shift your lens,etc in the same arc that the stars were traveling in. What were you using to do this? I have the 400mm f 2.8 and I'm anxious to recreate this.

Its an impressive image. But to see the deep field in the background has me suspect. Please prove me wrong because I like this image a lot.
Guest 08-Oct-2008 05:56
Wow. Super wow. I have a 40D, which I upgraded to in part with a thought to get into astrophotography. It is nice to know what the camera is capable of, even if there are many more (and really more important) things that have made this shot special than the use of a 40D. My 2 questions would be:
- Is this an unmodified 40D with respect to IR filtering?
- Is a Losmandy 11 the minimum quality mount to take these kind of shots (1 minute long exposures), or are there potentially less expensive tracking mounts that could give the kind of performance required to create the images required to make a final shot like this?

Thanks for sharing, this is stupendous looking.

Guest 14-Feb-2008 20:00
I can recall when we could only see such stunning imagery from books, and then those came from big-time telescopes like the Hale at Caltech. I still have a 1969 copy of Life's "The Universe" and, after looking at it again just to make sure, your image compares quite favorably! Excellent job. Voted, of course.
Noiseacct14-Feb-2008 18:04
Coooool picture Steven, and I am not being partial.
Guest 14-Feb-2008 17:49
Impressive work...this is a spectacular image!
Charlie Milner14-Feb-2008 02:56
Great image Steven. Looks like it took quite a bit of work (and knowing you, coding) to pull off.
Guest 14-Feb-2008 02:51
Very impressive. Excellent capture.