M42 by Blair MacDonald
M42 by Blair MacDonald

M42 by Blair MacDonald

Blair MacDonald’s image of M42 won the title of SkyNews’ Photo of the Week March 27, 2020.

Blair MacDonald said Messier 42 — the Orion Nebula — is one of his favourite targets.

His February 21 image of the object was the judges’ favourite for the week of March 27, 2020, giving his picture the title of SkyNews‘ Photo of the Week.

M42 by Blair MacDonald

Taken from the St. Croix Observatory of The RASC’s Halifax Centre in Nova Scotia, MacDonald got 69 minutes (23 x 3 minutes, 25 x 30 seconds for the core) of exposure with his Canon 60Da DSLR at ISO 800. He said he used a SkyWatcher Esprit 120 at f/7 and an APO refractor with a focal length of 840mm.

“This image was processed entirely in Images Plus,” he wrote, adding that calibration, stacking, and a statistical filter were applied to reduce noise before stretching.

“Masked stretching and split star processing used to enhance the image,” he also wrote. “Masked noise reduction using a frequency domain lowpass filter applied to the DSO layer and then it was recombined with the star layer. Image binned 2 by 2. Final sharpening, a slight star reduction and a masked red boost rounded out the processing. Since the 60Da has on sensor dark suppression no darks were used in the calibration.”

Our honourable mention this week goes to Doug Wayland for his image “Zodiacal Light,” which he took about 50 kilometres north of Prince George, B.C. on March 19.

The Solar System’s dust cloud, called the zodiacal cloud, sits on the ecliptic plane. Zodiacal light is sunlight that has been scattered by that interplanetary dust.

Taken with a Canon 60D with a Canon EFS 10-18 lens set at 10mm, Wayland wrote that the f-stop was at 4.5, and the exposure was 30 seconds at ISO 1600.

He added the camera was on a tripod, and the image was taken at 9:20 p.m. PDT, right around the end of astronomical twilight.

“It’s a subject that is hard to catch, and not often seen,” one judge wrote.