Orion and the Running Man


Martin Campbell
  Dungannon, County Tyrone
Time and Date taken
  16th December 2006 0214ut
Equipment used
  Takahashi Epsilon 180mm f/2.8 Newtonian with EM-200 GEM
Capturing device used
  Canon 20DA
Technical details
  RAW ISO200 120 seconds

Mark Stronge accepted my invitation to come down to the observatory at Dungannon to help me polar align the new telescope. We spent the best part of an evening looking at some of my favourite personal photos of the Milky Way and then proceeded to align the scope. We soon found that a number of things were not quite right. First off the mount was not level and then the scope wasn't even collimated. After about 2 hours of struggling with the Astrograph collimation screws we did a star test. Pointing at Orion we aligned the finder scope and homed in on M42. Wow! Where previously the nebula had been washed out with poor contrast, now the arms of the nebula were clearly visible. As it was getting very late/early, Mark called it a successful night and went home - many thanks Mark. I proceeded to wait for a clear break to test out the newly collimated Astrograph.

Below is a single 2 minute exposure with some processing in Paint Shop Pro. In 16-bitmode, adjust RGB levels looking at Histogram so that all colours are around the same level. Using the Histogram adjustment (it converts to 8-bit for this tool) edit the RG and B separately so that the sky darkens. Use the midtone compression and adjust gamma (gamma lowered to 0.7 on each colour). Use the black/white point to get a final black sky. Adjust the Hue saturation Lightness to bring up shadow and midtone levels. Adjust the brightness and contrast using the Automatic Contrast Enhancement (semi-automated). Adjust the RGB to bring up the Red level. There is some work still to do with tracking but I am pleased with this first light of the scope.

"Stunning Martin. This 2 minute ISO200 exposure is equivalent of a 5 minute one on most other scopes. The Running Man reflection nebula stands out really well, excellent imaging!"


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Last Updated : Friday, December 29, 2020

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