Constellation Orion on October 1st

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Well, it’s been another while since I posted anything. Figured it was high time I did. This time, I’m sharing some more night sky photos…don’t do night sky nearly often enough. It is one of my first passions…ever since I was a little kid, long before I ever found my love for photography, I loved the night sky.

My favorite constellation is Orion. Big, complex, detailed, and dominating the winter sky, it is an easy constellation to fall in love with. While it is known for shaping “The Hunter”, Orion is also known as a rather detailed and dusty part of the sky to deep sky observers. It is home to quite a number of well known stellar objects, such as one of the largest known stars in the sky, Betelgeuse, one of the brightest stars, Rigel, as well as some of the most well known objects such as the Horsehead and Orion Nebulas. Less commonly known objects include the Flame Nebula, which is barely visible with a small telescope and barely visible to a DSLR camera with a good fast lens, the beautiful stellar object M78, the Trapezium cluster of stars which form the heart of the Orion nebula and the second “star” of the Orion constellation’s sword.

Orion is such an intensely beautiful region of the sky as it is part of the greater Barnard Loop and neighboring gaseous and dusty regions. Barnard’s Loop is a vast region of space that encompass the entire constellation, hundreds of light years across, about 1500 light years from earth. This image below, sourced from wikipedia (photographed by Rogelio Bernal Andreo) demonstrates the constellation of Orion in all its true cosmic beauty…almost as if to give true form to the actual hunter and his prey themselves:

Orion Constellation, Barnard’s Loop

An incredible amount of detail can be imaged when using a properly guided tracking mount (allowing for very long exposures without blurring due to the motion of the sky). While I am not currently privileged with such equipment, my DSLR and 16-35mm wide angle lens do a decent enough job. The two photos I’ve shared today show the whole constellation, and a zoomed in portion of the belt and sword. Light pollution from Denver, over 50 miles away, was still intense enough to prevent a more brilliant exposure. The Orion nebula, Trapezium cluster, and the faint blob of the Flame nebula at the end of Orion’s Belt can be seen. Winter is almost upon the northern hemisphere, and Orion will begin rising before midnight and be present throughout most of the night sky until next year. If you have even a moderately decent telescope, you can observe some of the less faint objects in Orion. If you have the opportunity to visit your local astronomy group and borrow some time on a larger telescope, you might even be able to observe some of the fainter objects, such as the Flame Nebula, Horsehead Nebula, maybe even M78.