Saturday, 28 December 2013

I've seen things... (Orion special - part I)

"I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe; attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those... moments... will be lost... in time, like... tears... in rain."

This is probably one of the most famous Sci-Fi speeches ever written,  the ending soliloquy of Blade Runner. I don't know what inspired Ridley Scott to make this reference to Orion but I can tell that this constellation is one of the most interesting areas in the sky with plenty of DSO to enjoy in just a few degrees in the sky.

As a child, since I first heard the ending speech of Blade Runner, I wondered about the shoulder of Orion and particularly what could this Tannhauser Gate thing be, imagining space portals leading to different dimensions... well, finally I managed to photograph it, or at least what  Ridley's inspiration could be, M78.

M78 is one of the forgotten ones in Orion. Compared to other nebulae that I'll cover in another entries, is less spectacular and quite smaller but it is one of my favorites. M78 is a reflection nebula located at 1,600 ly and a size of 5 ly across the "gate". The picture also shows another nebulae forming a greater complex object together : NGC2064, NGC2067 and NGC2071. Also, M78 is located on a big dust area. You can see on the wide-field picture how the number of stars visible changes dramatically from the left to the right.

The image is composed of 40 lights of 2,5', with 10 darks and 20 bias. Stacked with DSS and processed with StarTools and Photoshop. Although this picture is not as spectacular as the previous galaxies, for me is quite a big deal picturing it with the small 70mm and the unmodified DSLR. 

As usual,  ENJOY!

Defying the laws of the TV-Series C.S.I., I decided to crop and amplify the image to check if I was able to increase the size and the detail. To do this I used the 3x Drizzle algorithm designed by NASA for the Hubble deep sky images. No luck, they must be using a different algorithm ;) but you can see it in bigger (noisier) size.

And of course, the annotated image over the widefield: