M78 - Reflection Nebula in Orion


Copyright 2007 Hap Griffin

Classified as a reflection nebula, M78 is a cloud of interstellar gas and dust glowing by reflected starlight.  It has the bluish color characteristic of all reflection nebulae.  M78 is actually composed of several smaller objects...the bright NGC2067 near the bottom and the fainter NGC2071 near the top.  If you look closely, you can make out vast regions of light obscuring dust crossing in front of each portion.  A much longer total exposure is required to really tease out the detail in these dust lanes...a project for later this winter.  The M78 complex is approximately 4 light-years across and is part of the much larger region of gas and dust surrounding and penetrating the constellation of Orion.

M78 lies at a distance of 1600 light years.

Date/Location:    October 20, 2007     Griffin/Hunter II Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    Canon 350XT (modified IR filtering) Digital SLR through 10" Newtonian 
Focal Ratio:   f/ 4.7
Guiding:    Auto via SBIG ST237 through Orion ED80 refractor
Conditions:    Visually clear
Weather:    40 F
Exposure: 170 minutes total (34 x 5 minutes @ ISO 800)
Filters:    Baader UV/IR block internal to camera
Processing:    Focused and captured with DSLRFocus.  RAW to TIFF conversion, auto-dark and flat frame calibration, Digital Development, Richardson-Lucy deconvolution, resizing and JPEG conversion in ImagesPlus.  Color correction in Photoshop 6.  Noise reduction in Neat Image.