Constellation of Orion with Friends – Great Orion Nebula M42, to the Flame and Horsehead nebulas (although not make out the shape of the horsehead), Rosetta Nebula, Sirius the bright star, Barnard’s Loop (big red loop of nebulosity) and Messier 41 (the star cluster up and to the right of Sirius)
I have recently been having some fun re-discovering simple low fuss astrophotography with my Fuji X-E2. This camera is excellent at picking up nebula colours due largely to its sensor technology which means no low-pass filter and low noise. The above exposure is only 15 minutes worth of data, from a semi-light polluted outer suburban location in Perth (my patio at 2am!) yet it shows good red nebula including Barnard’s Loop which stands out quite strongly. Orion features the Orion Nebula, Flame and Horsehead which are all quite visible (although the shape of the horsehead is too small to distinguish at this scale).
Every camera has it’s advantages and disadvantages for astrophotography, and the where the Fuji excels is in image quality and sensitivity, but where it fails is focus and usability. Using the fly-by-wire focus mechanism employed by the camera it is very hard to achieve perfect focus.
The Constellation of Orion is currently rising quite late. It’s a spectacular and familiar summer (December-February) night sky object for us in the southern hemisphere. With Orion being high around Christmas it’s often one of the first viewed through new telescopes too
A strip of the Large Magellanic Cloud including nebula NGC 2070 (Tarantula Nebula)
Progressing on from the previouse “A Small Piece of our Nearby Universe” this is a slightly larger piece! A strip cutting through the Large Magellanic Cloud which is now a composite of two frame mosaic (original frame left, new frame right). I like the subtle nature and “deep space” feel of this image.
NGC 2070 and surrounds of the Large Magellanic Cloud
A more narrow field image than I ordinarily post to my Astro Photography Australia site, this is a small piece of our beautiful southern skies. Looking at our neighbouring galaxy this is the Tarantula Nebula (NGC 2070), an absolutely massive nebula complex in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy.
You can see prints and products featuring the Large Magellanic Cloud here
The beautiful pink nebulosity stands out from the deep space star field surrounding. Some of those stars are in our Milky Way galaxy, while others are in the more distant Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. You are seeing the mix of two different galaxies here.
The below in the photograph “Green Skies” I have indicated where the Tarantula Nebula is, using a photograph which provides some foreground to help with scale:
Large Magellanic Cloud with Tarantula Nebula
The wide field “Green Skies” photograph above was taken using a 24mm lens, as compared to the narrower field view of the Tarantula Nebula taken at an effective focal length of 500mm.
It has been a while since I had the opportunity to process some wide-field colour astrophotography images. Having a three week old newborn will do that to you! This is an accidental crop from a much larger nightscape image which just made me go “wow” when I struck upon it as I was processing the whole image. I was struggling to get the whole image balanced nicely when I realised there was another opportunity hidden within.
This is only a single frame and early in the evening when temperatures hadn’t fully cooled, so you can see some noise in the image, however it is not dominant. I’ve chosen to keep the noise and not risk losing any of the sharpness in the stars, millions of which dominate the field (especially at the full 4000 pixel wide resolution of this file). The cloud on the right blurs as it moves through the frame during the one minute exposure. Just think – the cloud is maybe a few kilometers above the ground, the stars just behind the cloud are perhaps 9.4605284 × 10^15 kilometres (they vary in distance of course but you get the idea).
Dreamy Rock Pools
This photograph has a couple of different types of “clouds” and while astronomers typically dislike clouds here they work to create a dreamy nightscape.
The Magellanic Clouds, a set of companion galaxies to our Milky Way are visible in the night sky. The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) on the right and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) slightly left and lower than the LMC. Across the night sky span thin layers of cirrus cloud, creating the dreamy look. The moon (not visible in frame) gives the sky a blue colour.