Friday, January 22, 2016

Orion the Hunter

Sometimes when you try to improve the way your observatory works, you only make things worse for a while. Somehow my polar alignment went way off so I spent some cold nights out in the observatory trying to get that corrected. It is now much closer than it was a few weeks ago. Polar alignment must be closely aligned with the axis of the earth or the guiding software will not move the telescope correctly. Also I was trying to learn a new version of my camera control software, but that has not co-operated so I reinstalled an older version and now things are working better. To add to all this the weather has been mostly cloudy for the past few months. If it wasn't cloudy then it was exceptionally cold, dipping below 0 degrees F on several nights, and not much better the other nights. I was able to image a little in the Constellation Orion the hunter on one night. I have borrowed a few images that I took last year as well.
This is Messier 42, an emission nebula where stars are being formed. This is one of the brightest nebula in the sky and is one of my favorite deep sky objects. It is easy to locate in the middle star of Orion's belt and is clearly visible in binoculars or small telescopes. Many wonderful images have been taken of this object. To me this object looks like an eagle in flight. Can you see it?
Messier 43 is another emission nebula connected closely to Messier 42.
This is the Horsehead Nebula, a dark nebula blocking the light from the molecular emission nebula in the background. This nebula is notoriously difficult to see with a telescope even on exceptionally clear dark nights but shows up well in astro-photos.
Messier 78 is a reflection nebula