M78 From The Flint Hills

New image: M78 Reflection Nebula in Orion

I wrote a few weeks ago about my last trip to the Flint Hills and here is the final result. I am amazed at the detail in and around M78. The complexity of this area was apparent when I first started processing the image. The whole area is awash with dust and glowing gas, click the image to see . The upper right corner of the photograph contains a small piece of Barnards loop, which is visible in my old film photo of Orion (I really need to get some newer wide angle shots online!).

Honestly I am not completely pleased with my final image. I think there is room for improvement after looking at my M45 and B33, especially in reducing the noise level. I stretched this image as much as possible to highlight the intricacies of the region which tended to bring up the noise level. I also had to discard nine sub-exposures that were noticeably worse than the majority for one reason or another. Resizing the image from the full size composition (2066 x 3224 pixels) seems to highlight an old problem: banding noise. In retrospect I was not dithering as well as I could have either night. I’m my own worst critic.

To get it where I want it this image will require more sub-exposures. Time is running out for the winter constellations so perhaps later this year.

Incidentally I have updated my online images of M45. I noticed the other day that the images here were several revisions behind what I had on my computer. Fixed.