Re-processing my Horsehead and Flame Nebula from 9/1/2021

I have further processed this data to see how much detail I could bring out.

The issue is that really bright star – when I used curves to bring out detail then the star became extremely bright and adversely effected the rest of the image. So, I addressed it by creating 2 copies of image, masking the star in one and other bright stars in image. I then increased curves on that image to bring out detail and the mask stopped star blowing out.


Horsehead Nebula data from 9/1/2021

Thanks to RAG members who have offered to have a go at processing my Horsehead and Flame data to see what you can make of it.

File can be downloaded by clicking on link below – comes with calibration data – ZIP file – WARNING! The file is 10GB in size!

Horsehead and Flame Nebula in Orion, light frames & calibration files, Altair Astro 183M/Sky Watcher Equinox 80+1.0x FF/LRGB 9/01/2021 (ZIP file, 10 GB)



Horsehead and Flame Nebulae from last night

My photo from last night:

  • 3 hours of data.
  • 80mm Sky Watcher Equinox Pro telescope.
  • Sky Watcher EQ6 mount.
  • Mono camera Altair Astro 183M – Baader LRGB 7-8.5nm filters.
  • Taken in Lichfield, UK.
  • Sky had some transparency issues & below zero temperature outside.
  • Telescope set up on garden.
  • Processed in PixInsight and Photoshop CS6 with GradientXterminator filter and Astroflat Pro filters; and Topaz AI Noise and AI Sharpen filters.


Which version of following two do you prefer?

Observing Log 9/1/2021

Orion UK 10 inch Dobsonian

Explore Scientific 9mm 100 degree AFOV eyepiece



Wow! I have just had my best ever view of M36, 37 and 38. Never expected that tonight. Using ten inch Dobo with Explore Scientific 9mm 100 degree FOV eyepiece, each cluster fills the field of view of the eyepiece. The views of M36 and M38 are extremely bright with that diamonds on velvet appearance that makes the Double Cluster in Perseus through a 10 inch Dobsonian scope such a wonderful view – it is just that I have never seen it before with these three open clusters, which often disappoint,  but not tonight! M36 is entirely different, with loads of fainter white stars, also filling the field from end to end. What a comparison! I guess this must be related to how high Auriga is riding tonight, at about 75 degrees for these clusters. Not the clearest of nights, but not too bad either – 7/10 on my personal “visibility of Orion’s sword” scale (I resort to this because the local seeing conditions are almost always poor so it is a question of how poor they are tonight….) There is minimal scintillation and, at this elevation, the constellation is above most of the light pollution.

Looking at Pleiades, can see that the sky has lot of moisture with halo around the brightest stars.

I have been photographing the Tadpoles with my imaging rig, but Orion now cleared the trees. At the RAG astrophotography SIG last night, Rob Leonard suggested this months target should be something in Orion, so I have now moved over to Orion to photograph the Horsehead and Flame Nebula. Only once have ever photographed those in colour and it is an awful picture. Since then I’ve taken a half-decent black and white photo – hopefully, if the clouds hold off, I can add a reasonable colour photo to that tonight…….although of course today’s reasonable becomes tomorrow’s awful as our standards improve with experience (I also very happy with my previous photo when I took it!)

I am quite excited about tonight. I must go for my Covid vaccine tomorrow at 9am so sadly can’t keep going so in a minute I am going to put the kit away. However I have managed 2 hours straight in Horsehead. This is first time that I have ever been able to keep imaging one object for that long on single night, either because of cloud or because the object I am imaging goes behind trees in my garden. And its a great object too – the Horsehead and Flame plus my stars look round(!) So hopefully I can produce something decent.

The Tadpoles Nebula

I caught this one on Christmas Eve. We had a lovely clear night, and although it was very much family time I did manage to sneak out and set the scope running. It was pretty clear nearly all night, so I was able to gather data for all the channels in one night- a rarity in UK narrowband imaging. Details are:

Capture details are:

RGB (for the stars) – 10 mins/channel – 20x 30 seconds, Ha – 90x 2mins, Oiii and Sii – 75x 2mins.

130pds on HEQ5 with ASI1600mm at Gain 250.

I’m normally indecisive about the best presentation, but in this instance the Hubble version was definitely the one to go with, as it really highlights the tadpoles. I’ve also included a Starnet version- it definitely adds some noise, but you can see the faint bits of the nebula much better.

I was curious about the Tadpoles- apparently they’re similar to the Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula- dust and gas left over from the formation of the nearby star cluster NGC1893, and the nursery for future star creation. They point away from the cluster because of stellar winds and radiation pressure from it.


M42 LRGB 20/12/2020 re-processed 1/1/2021

My first processed image of 2021 is a re-process of my LRGB data on M42 from 20/12/2020.

I have used StarNet in PixInsight to extract the nebula, enhance it, and then added back the stars in Photoshop.

Although there isn’t more detail in this image compared to my last attempt, I think my background gradients are better dealt with, and the stars slightly improved – although my wife prefers the previous version! What do you think?


New version of M42:

Most of stars removed using StarNet in PI:

7 Sisters of California

This is my second attempt at this composition and some time off over the holidays is giving me time to catch up with processing…

This is quite a large chunk of sky between the Pleiades running up to the California nebula. I had a go at this around 9 months ago, but it was low in the sky at the time and I clipped the background to sort out atmospheics and light pollution gradients. It’s been nice to have another go closer to the zenith. The acquisition was as follows:

2 pane mosaic, taken through Altair 183c Pro camera on a Star Adventurer with a Canon 15 year old “nifty fifty” f1.8 lens. I found focussing at f1.8 just about impossible, so it’s stopped down to f2.8. I wanted to get as much of the dust as possible, so I didn’t use a filter and this restricted me to 30 second exposures at gain 1000. Each pane has 120×30 seconds.

I then enhanced the California nebula by blending it with some data taken back in October with a 1970s 135mm Soviet lens and an Ha filter.