The Orion Nebula via DSLR Camera

The Orion Nebula, M42, plus surrounding stars. Click for full-sized image.

April 5th, 2020, 8:40 p.m. local time

On Sunday night, in addition to imaging Venus, the Pleiades, and the Moon, I also pointed the camera towards the Orion Nebula.  This was mostly an experiment, as I had never imaged M42 without the aid of a telescope.

As this time of year, the Orion Constellation is falling into the West after Dusk.  So the nebula, along with the surrounding stars that make up Orion’s sword, are at an angle towards your right.  This is in the Northern Hemisphere; in the Southern, I assume the configuration is “upside down” and would be angled towards your left.

I took a number of images of the nebula, playing around with the exposure and ISO settings.  The image included with this post is the best in my opinion, with only some minor post-processing touchups in an attempt to remove background noise.

I would like to do long-exposure stacking of deep sky objects again, but my “new” DSLR camera only outputs raw images in a format (CR3) that my software programs cannot handle.  The old standard was CR2.  I haven’t checked recently if any programs like DeepSkyStacker now support CR3, but I should.

Image settings for reference:

  • f/5.6
  • 2 sec exposure
  • ISO 3200
  • 260mm lens length
  • Minor post-processing in PaintShop Pro

8 thoughts on “The Orion Nebula via DSLR Camera

    • Thanks for checking on DSS. I recall I was a little depressed last year when I discovered my camera’s new native format was not supported by any of the programs I had used to open and process my wide-field sky images: DSS, PaintShop Pro, AfterShot Pro, and I think one or two others. Shame on me for not doing due diligence. My strategy at the time was “wait a year” and hopefully they would add support, but that hasn’t seemed to be the case.

      It sounds like there are solutions for converting CR3 files but nothing is relatively easy. Soon I may have to revisit what I want to do, including considering a “trade in” to sell my current cameras to get one that natively supports a popular raw format.

      This blog post seems to sum up the situation well:

      Liked by 1 person

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