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Orion which you can almost see

Orion which you can almost see

NASA astronomy image for January 16, 2024: Orion nearly visible. Credits: M. Josini

the hero of the story Astronomy picture of the day (Apod) to NASA on January 16, 2024 is OrionI Footballer. the giant Rosa Betelgeuse, top left, stands out in strong orange. There are many blue stars in the constellation, along with the giant Rigel Bottom right e Bellatrix Top right. In the Orion beltIts three stars can be seen lined up – Alnitak, Alnylam H I ask It is about 1,500 light-years away from us, born from interstellar clouds. Just below Orion's belt is a bright, mysterious spot known as… Orion Nebula. Finally, it can barely be seen with the naked eyeBernard's ring: huge Emission nebula Gas surrounding the Belt and Orion Nebula.

The author of this touching shot is an Italian engineer, Michele GozziniHe was born in 1987 in Recanati, where he lives. Enaf media I reached out to him to get to know him, understand the secrets that allowed him to have this dazzling view, and hear the story of his experience.

Orion, one of the most beautiful and magnificent constellations in the winter sky. When did you decide to film The Hunter?

“The Orion constellation, in our latitudes, is perhaps the most interesting region of the sky to photograph during the winter. It is rich in star formation regions, emission and reflection nebulae, dark nebulae, and regions of ionized hydrogen. The most famous and recognizable are certainly the Great Orion Nebula (M42). Horsehead Nebula. In its main configurations, this nebular complex has an apparent size on the sky of about 30° by 20°, ideal for camera imaging. full frame And 85 mm lens. In this field of view, Barnard's Ring appears to embrace the other nebulae in a perfect pattern. when I sawOn October 23, 2010 “I was fascinated by it, and ever since then I have always dreamed of photographing this region of the sky.”

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How did he photograph it so beautifully?

“To do this, you necessarily need a dedicated astrophotography sensor or a modified camera, since hydrogen emits at wavelengths that are filtered out by classical cameras. Together – and thanks to my good friend Lorenzo Cappella, who is also an amateur astronomer – we modified my Nikon Z6 to increase its sub-wavelength sensitivity.H-alpha. During an astrophoto shoot last November, again in the Sibillini Mountains, I had already taken some test shots of Orion. “The horizon was still very low and I couldn't get the perfect photo, but I realized there was great potential.”

Michele Guzzini, mechanical engineer, born in 1987 in Recanati. Author of NASA Apod dated January 16, 2024. Credits: M. Guzzini

When and where was this photo taken?

“From my balcony at home, I can see the entire Sibillini range, so I can assess the weather conditions, especially at sunset, and see if it will be the perfect evening. So, on Sunday, December 17, with the weather and the moon in my favor, I made a last-minute decision to leave. Minimal setup, modified Nikon Z6, Nikon Z 85mm F/1.8, and Star Adventurer tracker. Reaching the site is in Sasutito, about 1,500 meters above sea level. It's not the darkest point in Sibilini, but it has the advantage of having mountains just to the south, a few kilometers away. There was more snow and ice than I thought, though, and I was able to align the tripod and start shooting right away without too many problems. The cold certainly didn't help me, but it helped the camera. The low temperature, below 0 degrees, allows you to obtain sharper images by reducing heating effects on the imaging sensor. As time passed, the sky conditions seemed to improve, so I took as many photos as I could, but I'm honestly afraid they won't be enough to get the desired result.

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In practice, how do you get an image like this?

“In the following days, I devoted myself to the treatment, and I was eager to see the results, but this stage actually takes a long time. First, all the captured shots must be calibrated and combined, in this way a single image is obtained that contains the maximum amount of signal, and then we move on to the actual processing stage. He treats. In total I used 56 images from 120 seconds at F/2.5 lens aperture. After several tests, I realized that I had to change something in myself Workflow. In particular, I have developed a more effective method for removing dithering caused by light pollution, which unfortunately is present here as well, and is even more pronounced in wide-field images. I was able to model the artificial light in the shots very accurately; Once removed, all the nebulae, even the faintest ones, revealed themselves. Another important stage is the star reduction stage: with long exposure photography, so many stars are captured that they confuse the eye and hide the nebulae. Once I completed this step, I realized that I had captured the photo I had hoped for.”

When did your passion for the starry sky begin?

“Since I was young, I have fostered a passion for astronomy. I started astrophotography in 2008, thanks to my good friend Lorenzo. Using his telescope and camera, we took the first pictures and began to study astrophotography techniques. Together we met Gianclaudio and other friendsCrab Nebula Society: Angelo, Fabiano, Francesco and Giuseppe. With them we currently manage Gianclaudio Ciampiccini Astronomical CenterWe built with our own hands. In recent years, also thanks to technological advances with new cameras and increasingly high-performance lenses, I have dedicated myself particularly to night landscape photography and wide-field astrophotography, searching for evocative places away from light pollution. The Sibillini Mountains have become my refuge for this type of photography, because they are a short distance from my home and I can rely on a convenient logistical point in the area. However, even here, light pollution is constantly increasing. I hope that through my work I can raise awareness of this environmental problem among more and more people.”

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To do astrophotography, I imagine you need a lot of patience and endurance, especially when it's cold. Is there a message you would like to leave for our readers, in addition to this wonderful photo?

“Astrophotographers are always looking for the latest sensors, the latest technological aids or software that can yield a better result, but there is much more than that: astrophotography enriches you by teaching you dedication, patience and a deep respect for the beauty of the starry sky. Through technique and emotion, I try to share the wonders of the universe with others, inviting them to look up and ask questions. When we stand under a starry sky, with a telescope or a camera or simply with our eyes up, we realize that we are part of something unique and seemingly immortal, which brings together all the beings who have ever lived on planet Earth, Pale blue dot».