M42, the Orion Nebula
M42, the Orion Nebula, shines in this image taken at the James C. Veen Observatory in Lowell, Michigan.
I went out to the observatory this evening just to do some observing, since who knows if this would be the last clear evening of the year.
Arriving at the observatory with a fellow club member, we noticed how clear the sky was, as a cold front had gone through earlier and there was some wind, which had cleared out many of the pollutants. The skies were black, the stars were bright, and the Milky Way shown directly at the zenith.
We went into the building and opened up the dome, then proceeded to observe Jupiter and several other objects. When the telescope was pointed at M42, the detail was amazing. One of the best views I've seen in all my years as an observer. I decided right then that I needed a photograph of this.
Since I always have my camera with me, I went down and got it from the car, brought it in and attached it to the telescope. After careful focusing I took a 60-second image, which looked good on the back of the camera. Since we were getting cold, I took two more images and then we went to other objects, but soon we closed up and left.
I guess this resulting image is okay. It's a stack of four individual 60-second exposures.
I was remembering the "good old days" of doing film astrophotography, when an image like this would have entailed sitting with one eye peering into a high-power eyepiece with an illuminated reticle, making small adjustments to the telescope's drive system to keep a guide star in the center of the reticle for 20 minutes or more.
Ah, the romance is gone.