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Contains:  NGC 2064, NGC 2024, NGC 2023, Horsehead nebula, IC 434, IC 430, NGC 1999, NGC 1990, M 43, NGC 1982, NGC 1977, NGC 1980, M 42, Great Nebula in Orion, NGC 1976, NGC 1975, NGC 1981, The star 49Ori, The star 31Ori, The star υOri, The star 42Ori, The star σOri, The star ιOri, The star Mintaka (δOri), The star Alnitak (ζOri), The star Alnilam (εOri), Part of the constellation Orion (Ori)
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Orion's Belt and Sword, 


            Gabriel R. Santos...
Orion's Belt and Sword

Orion's Belt and Sword

Technical card

Resolution: 3600x2507

Dates:Sept. 9, 2018Dec. 11, 2018

10x10" ISO800
50x120" ISO800
10x30" ISO800

Integration: 1.8 hours

Darks: ~20

Flats: ~20

Bias: ~50

Avg. Moon age: 16.55 days

Avg. Moon phase: 7.94%

Bortle Dark-Sky Scale: 3.50

Mean SQM: 21.50

Mean FWHM: 2.75

Temperature: 7.50 job: 2432631

RA center: 84.650 degrees

DEC center: -2.776 degrees

Pixel scale: 9.757 arcsec/pixel

Orientation: 90.325 degrees

Field radius: 5.944 degrees

Data source: Traveller


Orion’s Belt and Sword, in the heart of the Hunter, reveals much more than three stars in a row. A deep exposure shows everything from dark nebulae to star clusters, all embedded in an extended patch of gaseous wisps in the greater Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. [1] This wide field could fit some 20 full moons across! On the upper right lies M42, the Orion Nebula, an energetic caldron of tumultuous gas, visible to the unaided eye, with some detail visible to binoculars, and gaseous dust prominent with telescopes. In it, stars are being born. Immediately to the left of M42 is a prominent bluish reflection nebula sometimes called the Running Man Nebula that houses many bright blue stars. [1] All these objects are about 1500 light years away.

Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, the Belt of Orion, are blue supergiant stars, hotter and much more massive than the Sun. They lie from 800 to 1,500 light-years away, born of Orion's well-studied interstellar clouds. In fact, clouds of gas and dust adrift in this region have some surprisingly familiar shapes, including the dark Horsehead Nebula and Flame Nebula near Alnitak, the bottom star. [2] In the bottom left edge of the frame, lies M78, and a small part of the Barnard’s Loop (in red Ha color) is also visible.

Orion’s Belt is featured in many cultures around the world. Many different folk names are listed, such as Jacob’s Rod, Jacob’s Staff, The Magi [3], or the Three Marys, its popular name in Brazil and other latin countries. Orion is also mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Job, at 38:31. Orion’s Sword, being visible to the unaided eye, is also featured in ancient texts, and probably present in our ancestors’ culture. [4]
Making this image was an interesting odyssey. Orion is such a beautiful constellation, with many great DSOs, that photographing it is a real wonder. However, it is best seen from late October to Early March. That is exactly the rainy period on Southeastern Brazil – clear skies are rare! My last rendition of a similar field was from 2015! I did not have the chance to capture the region properly, despite extensively planning and travelling to my dark site, in the last 3 years! Back then in 2015, my DSLR was not modified and I was dipping my toes in astroimaging.

Finally, in the beginning of 2018’s December, a miracle happened – clear skies on the new moon. I just travelled to my dark sky with my father, and we experienced two great nights under the stars. This trip was worth the effort, and I could capture rarely imaged targets, as well as some more “usual” stuff. This field was first qukckly captured in my September session (story on California image). Back then I just snapped a few frames of Orion rising, a total of 10 minutes. Now on December I finished the project – adding 100 minutes of data, along with HDR exposures for the bright core. I am very pleased with the result – I can say it took 4 years worth of planning =D!

As of the date of posting of this image, I also make this my Christmas 2018 Image. My story with Orion goes back to my beginning in astroimaging. It was exactly on Christmas Eve 2012 that I snapped some of my first images – with a 200mm lens on a fixed tripod, and it was of the Orion Nebula. I was amazed at what I saw on the camera screen and hooked on astrophotography since then. Well, what a journey it has been…!

Constructive criticism, comments and suggestions are more than welcome in the comments section. Thank you for taking your time to look at this image.

Date and Time: September 9 and December 11, 2018;
Location: MG, Brazil. Rural Skies (Bortle 3-4, SQM ~21.6*calculated)
Camera: Canon EOS T5 (modded), at ISO 800
Lens: Samyang 135mm f/2.0, operated at f/2.4
Mount: Sky-Watcher HEQ5, tracking, guided
Guiding: Starguider 50mm Guidescope + ASI120mm + PHD2; ~1.5”
Exposure Detail: 50x120s (main deep background) + 10x30s + 10x10s (HDR); total 107 min.

[1] APOD 11/11/2014 [2] APOD 23/11/2017 [3] Wikipedia, Orion’s Belt. [4] Wikipedia, Orion’s Sword



Gabriel R. Santos...


  • Orion's Belt and Sword, 


            Gabriel R. Santos...
  • Final
    Orion's Belt and Sword, 


            Gabriel R. Santos...


Improved color correction, slight contrast enhancement

Sky plot

Sky plot


Orion's Belt and Sword, 


            Gabriel R. Santos...