Thursday 28 February 2013

Trapezium (Orion Nebula) using Xbox Webcam

I first tried imaging the Orion Nebula (M42) with the Xbox webcam on my SkyWatcher 130M telescope last year, and managed to resolve the Trapezium star cluster. Sadly I can't find the original images, so I tried again last night.

No editing other than croppingAnnotated by hand

As you can hopefully see, there are at least five stars here. Top right as show is the Trapezium cluster (Theta1 Orionis, or θ1 Ori for short), of which only the three brightest stars showed up. Centrally is Theta2 Orionis (or θ2 Ori), and another bright star to the left of it. That means I've captured the brightest stars in the centre of M42 nebula, but in the single stills at least there is no hint of the nebula background.

Here's the original un-cropped image,

Single frame, no editing, no cropping.
Recorded with Apple Photo Booth (auto-balance).
Xbox live vision, prime focus, SkyWatcher SK1309EQ

This was with an Xbox Live Vision webcam still with its original red glass IR filter. I would have liked to have tried a head-to-head comparison where that is replaced with a proper 1.25" astronomy IR cut filter - but time and the weather prevented this (a heavy haar came in, cutting visibility completely).

I did take a couple of movies and could try stacking the AVI files to see if anything more can be extracted for a slightly more exciting image. Also if I'd not used my Mac laptop I could have used a more sophisticated bit of software to capture the image - adjusting the gain and exposure for instance.

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