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Messier 78 Great Reflection Nebula in Orion


Messer 78 LhaRGB shot from Insight observatory

Every astronomy enthusiast knows about Orion constellation it has so many cosmic wonders hidden inside and Messier 78 is one of them, Messier 78 is very close to other infamous celestial objects of Orion eg Horsehead Nebula ,Orion nebula itself etc.

View Full resolution here Messier 78 is a gorgeous reflection nebula inside the Orion constellation. Messier 78 is one of the brightest diffuse reflection nebula in the sky. The magnitude of messier 78 is around 83 and is approximately 1600 light years away from us. Messier 78 is also catalogued as NGC 2068. Messier 78 occupies around 8x6 arc minutes of the night sky and its diameter is around 10 light years, the nebula is pretty easy to spot if you are under good dark skies or even under moderate skies. Messier 78 can be easily seen with a small aperture telescope which would show up as a hazy dull comet like object if viewed with s small telescope, the nebula is mainly light up by 10th Magnitude stars and best time to view them is in the winters when Orion constellation shows its full glory.

The Bluish tint seen in the Image is the true representation of its color, also its very common to see the natural bluish tones in reflection nebula because of the particular way the starlight is scattered by the dust particles that they contain. Messier 78 is light up mainly by HD 38563A and HD 38563B, however it is the home to several other stars which are young(10 million years) and have low solar mass, they are actually 45 in number and known as tauri stars.

Herbig Haro Objects

Messier 78 HH objects Image credi copyright Team Insight Obs

HerbigHaro (HH) objects are basically bright patches of nebulosity associated with newborn stars. They are formed when narrow jets of partially ionized gas ejected by stars collide with nearby clouds of gas and dust at several hundred kilometers per second.

Herbig-Haro objects can have temperatures of around 10,000 Kelvin, densities from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand particles/cm3 and can contain up to 20 Earth masses of material. Processing Information Processing this gorgeous region was quite amusing, I had to be careful while performing steps as the core of messier 78 is easily blown out if not payed much attention .When processing reflection nebula we have to be very delicate/and artistic a bit with the process. I agree i have also overdone the nebula couple of times but this time i prepared couple of version to play

As usual My Processing was done in the 3 software - CCD stack, Pixinsight, Photoshop cc.

  • My first step was to get the right value on the RGB data so I calculated the RGB values separately and then combined them in CCD stack in non-linear phase.

Linear RGB
  • Then I proceeded to photoshop and gave a good amount of stretching's just shown above and was careful regarding the core as it can get easily saturated

  • Similarly I applied it to Luminance frame and did deconvolution in pixinsight, I also cleared gradients which might cause trouble, Automatic Background Extractor took care of it.

  • Now it was time for combining the h-alpha to the RGB, I used different method in Pixel math and combine both of the data into one, h-alpha can be very harsh on RGB data sometimes so its advised to be very careful while combining it.


  • Since I combined the h-alpha it introduced a bit of noise element there so I went and applied TGV denoise on the Ha-RGB very delicately, it was a bit unnoticeable.

  • It was time for me to consider working on the Luminance so I made Star-mask and went decon mode on it with local de-ringing mode i wasn't too perfect on it so it introduced a little bit of black rings around it i cannot perfectly say deconvolution is responsible for this

  • While combining the Luminance to the RGB, I used different blending mode and opacity to combine luminance of the data into ha-RGB, Luminance can also be very harsh on RGB data sometimes so its advised to be very careful while combining it.

  • Gave a saturation boost in both pixinsight and photoshop using different techniques so we can appreciate the color information captured from this telescope

  • I also use Local histogram equalization along with mask to get the nice effect which i desired too

  • I used dark structure enhance script to get an even view of the HH object region

  • Later I applied some lab color adjustments and camera raw to deliver some final results on it and here is the result Here is also the Technical Details 16" F3.7 Dream scope Astrograph Newtonian FLI Proline 16803CCD Badder LRGB filters 22X300secLum 1x1 24x300secRed 1x1 23X300secGreen 1x1 22X300secBlue 1x1 11x600sec H-alpha 1x1 total 9.25hrs of data processing in Photoshop and Pixinsight Preprocessing APP by Muir image copyright : Utkarsh Mishra , Muir Evenden, Michael Petrasko www.insightobservatory.com You can follow me on instagram - @mr_deepsky



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