Horsehead & Flame Nebulae

I have imaged this region before, but, no amateur astrophotographer let’s a winter go by without taking another shot at this very colorful & beautiful region of the sky.  The Horsehead Nebula, the crowning glory of all nebulae, is actually a dark nebula i.e. a column of heavier gases (i.e. Oxygen, Nitrogen etc) silhoutted against a wall of ionized Hydrogen (the pink wall). On the left is a bright star called Alnitak, which is the left-most star of the belt of the Orion Constellation and can be seen from most light-polluted skies without any optics (and that’s why it is rather bulgy in this image). Right below Alnitak is the Flame Nebula (better visualized, if you turn the image 90 degrees clockwise). It is also lot of Hydrogen gas mixed with some other gases. The pink wall behind Horsehead is about 25 light years wide. Horsehead itself about 2 ly wide. These objects are about 1500 lys away. The wall behind horsehead is ignited by the star on the top of the image, and the Flame Nebula is ignited by Alnitak.

This image is basically 4 different images digitally combined. My scope takes picture at 75x zoom, which is too high a zoom for this wide area, so I took 4 different images and stitched them together. Also, I took this image in Ha (Hydrogen Alpha), so as to allow me to take images during Moon’s presence in the sky. (Narrowband imaging allows us to access faint signal from emission nebulae without registering visible light for most part, that allows us to take these images on Moon-lit nights.). I also added RGB to get proper color combination and then use Ha data as Luminance (or base).

Took this image over 17 hours. Each of 4 panels was taken for 45 minutes of each color and additionally, I collected data for 12 images of 10 minutes each for Ha (again for 4 panels):

This is an image I took many years ago with a small telescope from Virginia. Total exposure time 4 hours. This image is at about 18 times (with a smaller scope).

Horsehead & Flame Nebulae

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