Horsehead Nebula Region in Orion


Copyright 2004 Hap Griffin

One of the most beautiful regions of the sky is the area around the star Alnitak...the leftmost star in the three star "belt" of the constellation Orion.  Alnitak is the very bright star to the upper left of center.  Below it is NGC 2024, known as the Flaiming Tree nebula, also sometimes called the "Tank Track Nebula".  The large whispy red emission nebula to the lower right of Alnitak is IC 434.  This bright section is actually part of a much larger complex of emission nebulae encompassing most of Orion, some of which can be seen trailing off to the lower right.  Between IC 434 and us lies the famous "Horsehead Nebula" in the center of the photograph.  Cataloged as B33, it is a peculiarly shaped cloud of dark dust obscuring IC 434 behind it.  Just below and to its left is the blue reflection nebula, NGC 2023.

A wider view of this region is available here.

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Date/Location:    December 15, 2004     Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    Canon 300D Digital SLR (modified) through Orion ED80 w/ Meade .63 Focal Reducer piggybacked on LX-200 
Focal Ratio:   Approx. f4.5
Guiding:    Auto through LX-200 w/ SBIG ST-237
Conditions:    Visually clear
Weather:    25 to 18 deg. F during shoot (damnably cold to a South Carolina boy!)
Exposure: 240 minutes (4 hours)  total @ ISO 800 (48 x 5 min exposures) calibrated with flat frame and Master Dark frame (median combine of 9 darks)
Filters:    Baader UV/IR Block
Processing:    Focused and captured with DSLRFocus.  RAW to TIFF conversion, frame calibrations, alignment, Digital Development, Adaptive Richardson_Lucy deconvolution, scaling and JPEG conversion with ImagesPlus.  Noise reduction with NeatImage.