The Beautiful Belt of Orion


Everyone knows the Belt of Orion, but only the camera reveals the wealth of colours that surround it.

I shot this Friday night, February 8, under very clear sky conditions.

While I used a telescope, it had a short enough focal length, about 480mm, that the field took in all three stars in the Belt: from left to right, Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. All are hot blue stars embedded in colourful clouds. The most famous is the Horsehead Nebula, running down from Alnitak at left. Above the star is the salmon-coloured Flame Nebula. All manner of bits of blue and cyan nebulas dot the field, their colour coming from the blue starlight the dust reflects.

Dimmer dust clouds more removed from nearby stars glow with browns and yellows. At left, a large swath of sky is obscured by gas and dust simmering in dull red. The entire field is peppered with young blue stars.

It is certainly one of the most vibrant regions of sky, though only long exposures and image processing bring out the colours.

This is another test shot with a new Canon 6D that has had its sensor filter modified to transmit more of the deep red light of these types of nebulas. The camera works very well indeed!

– Alan, February 8, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer

6 comments on “The Beautiful Belt of Orion”

  1. Hello Alan,
    Is this a single exposure or stack of 8min exposures?
    Thanks

    • Hi Such deep-sky images are always stacks of several (usually 4 or 5 in my case) exposures. That fact isn’t picked up in the EXIF data the blog uses to display photo information. Images are stacked to reduce noise, not to produce the effect of a longer exposure. Images are averaged together not added together.

  2. I am Susans friend from badminton, and have a Canon 60Da, still learning how to use it, can’t focus clearly on infinity yet, or maybe its overexposure. One day… I just sent her a bunch of Port Douglas eclipse pics I took.

  3. Hi Alan … Is this the new 6Da ? I’ve read opposing opinions about how good the 6Da is for “normal” photography so if you have that one It would be good to get your viewpoint too. I’ve imaged this area a few times now, but I think I’ve reached the limit with my 7D …. Especially with the restrictions of short exposures on the Celestron 925 CPC anyway.
    I always look forward to your posts.

    • Hi — There is no 6Da, not from Canon. There is a 60Da which is cropped frame APS sensor camera, with a filter modified by Canon for greater red sensitivity. I reviewed it in the September 2012 issue of Sky and Telescope. The 6D I am using has had its filter modified by a third party, Hutech Scientific – http://www.hutech.com – for even greater red sensitivity. But this is an after-market mod of a stock Canon 6D.

      • Thanks Alan … Yes that was my typo. It was the 60Da I meant. It would be good to have a separately modified camera for astrophotography certainly.


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