A rare, reasonably clear night occurred last night which I decided to take advantage of. I set up at my dark sky site and took a few pictures. I also photographed through the telescope (my 70mm f/10 Meade refractor), which I have never done before. Granted, the exposures were short, but M42 is bright. I shot about 20 or so 15 second exposures and produced this image:
Not great detail, but if you look closely, I believe I successfully resolved the trapezium in this image, which I believe is a first for me. Whats up with the funky little tail on the bright star at the bottom of the frame.
I have placed the raws of the images on my webserver, at http://kd0ar.homeip.net/raws/2011-02-19
I also shot the old fashioned way, using the 300mm zoom camera lens, which seems to have more detail in the nebulocity than the one above. I used about 200mm of focal length, also about 20 raw frames, each 30 seconds in exposure, f/8. I also drizzled 3X in Deep Sky Stacker.
The one artifact I always seem to get with this object while using the camera lens is the dark halos around the stars. I havent figured out how to get rid of it yet. Also, its funny how the colors are so different between these 2 images. I used the same camera settings and I did not alter the colors, except to enhance the colors that the camera picked up. I did no weird color balance or no changing of colors.
I have a 6" Newt and a CG5 mount on order, and should be here this coming Tuesday (Feb. 21). I will be looking forward to using it to photograph some DSO's.
I have also been learning new processing techniques. There is an excellent yahoo group out there that teaches astro processing in Photoshop. http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/dslr_astro_image_processing/
It appears to be a new group, and seems to be growing quickly. These guys will help you get those textbook quality photos, and I hope that you begin seeing improvements in my work.