Orion’s Belt and Sword 2023 Edition

It’s that time of the year when Winter targets start to dominate the night skies. Of course this means that the iconic constellation of Orion rises above my hill around midnight. The streak of cloudy nights… week; gave me a rare window of opportunity to capture a combined 6 hours of data over 3 nights 🤭. Here is my 2023 edition of Orion’s Sword and Belt.

For those who have not seen my previous blogs on this sky beauty, here are some of the technical details. Orion’s Belt consists of the three bright stars Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka (to the left). Orion’s Sword is comprised of the three bright stars to the right: 42 Orionis, Theta Orionis, and Iota Orionis.

Nebulae in Orion’s Belt and Sword.

This hydrogen 2- rich region of the Orion constellation includes (from left to right) the Flame Nebula, Horsehead Nebula, Running Man Nebula, and the Great Orion Nebula. The region is located approximately 1,344 light years away from Earth in what is referred to as the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex.

In my last few blogs, I have been experimenting with different color palettes that create contrast to bring out the faint details in nebulae. The image below was processed using the Hubble palette. Personally I prefer the natural reds, but this starless rendition better illustrates the rich hydrogen-alpha regions (the goldfish color).

Starless Orion’s Belt and Sword in the Hubble palette.

This capture used the HaRGB combination method. The hydrogen-alpha (Ha) region was captured by extracting the Ha channel from a 3nm dual band filter, while the RGB region was captured to extract the green (G) and blue (B) channels. The Ha channel was used to replace the red (R) channel.

Ok ok… enough of the technical details. Please enjoy and remember to look up and experience an amazing Universe!

Gear: AA Hypercam 26C, Askar FMA180, HEM27 mount, Optolong L-Ultimate; Optolong CLS; SvBony 120mm + ZWO 120mc

Exif: Ha – 63 x 5-min lights; RGB – 14 x 3-min lights; Gain 200, Offset 3, TEC @ 10 degrees; 20 darks,

Software: SharpCap, PHD2; AstroPixelProcessor, PixInsight; Photoshop


  1. Wow! It’s amazing how much the Red changes my overall perception of the image! This is always one of the most spectacular sites in the night sky and even in optical telescopes never fails to delight although obviously the color scheme is mostly blues and greens! Nice job and keep up the good work of my friend! 👍💯

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