With a first “serious attempt at completing a large multi-session composition,” Adriano Almeida’s image of the Horsehead and Orion Nebulae was named our Photo of the Week on March 26, 2021.
Also known as Messier 42, the Orion Nebula is a stellar nursery, a large cloud of gas and dust where stars are born. At about 1,300 light-years away, it’s the closest large star-forming region to Earth.
The Horsehead Nebula, also known as IC 434, is a bright emission nebula. The “horsehead,” Barnard 33, is a dark nebula in front of it. The Flame Nebula, or NGC 2024, is an emission nebula about 1,400 light years from Earth, lit up by Alnitak (to the left of the Horsehead Nebula, in the image above). These nebulae, along with Barnard’s Loop and Messier 42, are part of the Orion Molecular Cloud, located about 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Orion.
“It originally began as nothing more than a simple first light test of my new ASI2600MC cooled camera,” Almeida wrote. “I did that first session back at the end of November 2020. It was an unfiltered test of the equipment, and I was gratified to see that the larger sensor, paired with the RedCat, was able to neatly fit both, the Orion and Horsehead nebulae into frame.
“Over the coming weeks, I began experimenting with new filters (L-eXtreme and Radian Triad Ultra), so I kept going back to this same target in order to have a point of comparison. After two or three sessions with promising results, I decided to add a few more hours of tri-band filtered data and then blend in the stronger tones and star colours from that very first session. The result was a composition that revealed a lot of beautiful nebulosity in the Hydrogen-alpha wavelength, paired with some very stark blue Oxygen III elements.”
Almeida used a ZWO ASI2600MC Pro camera and a William Optics SpaceCat 51 (250mm Petzval, f/4.9) to capture the image from Bortle 8 skies in Mississauga, Ontario. Exposure time was about six hours combined.
“After just having gotten into astrophotography last August, this photo represents my first serious attempt at completing a large multi-session composition,” Almeida wrote. “I’m eager to continue developing my skills in astrophotography, and I hope images like this one can inspire other people who are new to the hobby.”
Our honourable mention this week goes to Trevor Chandler for the image of the zodiacal light rising behind a barn in southern Ontario.
“The photograph was taken near Clark Point near the shore of Lake Huron,” Chandler said. “Here, there remains a sliver of dark sky that allows faint sky phenomena such as this to be glimpsed.”
Chandler used a Canon 5D camera sporting a 24-70 zoom lens (at 26 mm and f/2.8). The image was exposed for 20 seconds at ISO 3200.
Keep your eyes on the skies — and on the prize! Prizes for the 2020-21 SkyNews Photo of the Week contest are sponsored by Sky-Watcher, Celestron, iOptron and The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Click here for more details on the prize packages that will be awarded to the best photos this year.