M78 and NGC2071
Reflection Nebulae with Dark Nebulae in Orion

Click here for higher-resolution versions: 1583x1037 (40%)  2572x1685 (65%)   3957x2592 (Full Resolution)  
Click on image to toggle between the color version and the same picture with some of the catalogued objects in the field labeled


M78 is the brightest diffuse reflection nebula of a group of nebulae that include NGC 2064, NGC 2067, NGC 2071 and McNeil's Nebula (all of which are in this field; click through to see labels). A reflection nebula is one that does not emit its own light, but merely reflects the light of bright stars nearby; because blue light gets scattered more than light on the red end of the spectrum we see the blue light that has been scattered.

This group (along with the Great Orion Nebula, the Horsehead Nebula and the Flame Nebula, and the rest of this field) belongs to the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex and is about 1,600 light years distant from Earth. M78 is easily found in small telescopes as a hazy patch, and includes two magnitude 10 stars; these two stars are responsible for making the cloud of dust in M78 visible by reflecting their light. This field is located about 2.5 degrees northeast of Alnitak, the eastern-most star of Orion's Belt.

Click on the image to get a version with some of the more important catalogued objects in the field labeled.


Technical Information:

LRGB: 180:120:200:420 (Luminance layer consists of a blend of the blue-filtered images and the luminance-filtered images). All subexposures were unbinned 20-minute exposures.

Equipment: RC Optical Systems 14.5 inch Ritchey Chr tien carbon fiber truss telescope, with ion-milled optics, at about f/9, and an SBIG STL-11000M with internal filter wheel ( Astrodon type II filter set), guided by a MOAG/AO-L combination, all riding on a Bisque Paramount ME German Equatorial Mount.

Image Acquisition/Camera Control: Maxim DL, controlled with ACP, working in concert with TheSky v6.

Processing: All images calibrated (darks and dawn flats), aligned, and combined in Pixinsight. Color combine in Pixinsight. Noise reduction and deconvolution in Pixinsight, using NoiseXTerminator and BlurXTerminator. Finish work (curves and levels, adjustment of contrast) was done in Photoshop.

Location: Data acquired remotely from Fair Dinkum Skies, Moorook, South Australia.

Date: Images taken on many nights in December 2015 and January 2016. Image first posted February 3, 2016; most recent changes December 28, 2023.

CCD Chip temperature: -5C

Copyright 2015-2016 Mark de Regt