"Orion Mega Mosaic"
Tom O'Donoghue

"Orion Mega Mosaic"

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The 400 hour Orion Mosaic began as a project I started in 2011 from my imaging site in Spain where I had moved to focus on my Astrophotography. I began by taking a 4 pane mosaic in Luminance, Red, Green, Blue, and Hydrogen Alpha, of the Sword of Orion. The region including the 3 Belt stars, Flame Nebula, Horsehead, and Orion Nebula and ended up as a 56 hour 4 pane mosaic. In the Winter of 2012 /2013 I began by shooting in Black and White (Luminance) taking 30 panes at 530mm with my Takahashi FSQ106N, and Full frame CCD cooled camera. Each frame had 4 hours of data, totaling 120 hours. I left Spain in the Summer of 2013, where I re-located my Telescope, Camera, and Mount to Ollys Gite in Provence France. After upgrading our equipment to run a Dual Mounted Takahasi set up, I asked Olly to collaborate in the Orion Project with the RGB and remaining Hydrogen Alpha data collection. To all of this data I added high resolution data Olly had taken with the TEC 140mm F/7 refractor at his site. The data was added into the Orion, Horsehead, and Flame nebulae regions.

Over the 4 years, between the single telescope set up in Spain, the dual, and then later the triplet set up from Les Granges, approximately 100 nights or work, gave us 1.44 million seconds of exposures, or over 400 hours to combine into a single large Mega Mosaic of the Orion region. The end result is the Highest resolution image at a focal length of 530mm in this area, which shows many Deep Sky Objects, some the most photographed in the night sky like the Orion and Horsehead Nebula, and some objects I have not seen imaged before. Throughout the image, there are both small and large extensive bright Hydrogen Alpha Emission nebula, many Dark Nebula, Open Clusters, multiple small Galaxies, Reflection Nebula, again both small, such as the Vbd objects, and large expansive nebula like the extended Witchhead region. There are even Planetary Nebula scattered through the image, but these are very small and difficult to find.

This image was the joint Runner Up in the "Stars and Nebulae" category of the 2015 "Astrophotographer of the Year" competition, run by The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.

Note: All our prints are printed on Baryta 325g Paper, which is an excellent paper for framing. The paper is a gloss type, which gives very vivid colour views.