NGC 2264 - The Christmas Tree Nebula in Monoceros


Copyright 2007 Hap Griffin

NGC2264 is a loose cluster of some 600 relatively young stars forming an asterism known as the Christmas Tree cluster.  In this composition, the tree is upside down, with the base of it being the bright star near the center top of the image and the top of the Christmas tree being the bright star just above the cone shaped region at the bottom.  Not surprisingly, this region is called the Cone Nebula.  The entire region is awash with interstellar hydrogen, glowing red, and dark dust.  The lack of stars along the right side and upper right of the image is caused by intervening nearly black dust that is blocking our view of the stars beyond.  

The bright star at the top that illuminates and dominates the region is S-Monocerotis, a supergiant with a luminosity some 8000 times that of our sun.

NGC 2264 lies at a distance of 2600 light years.


Date/Location:    November 10, 2007     Griffin/Hunter II Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    Canon 40D (modified IR filtering) Digital SLR through 10" Newtonian w/MPCC 
Focal Ratio:   f/ 4.7
Guiding:    SBIG ST-237 through Orion ED80
Conditions:    Clear and cold
Weather:    27 F
Exposure: 150 minutes total (30 x 5 minutes @ ISO 800)
Filters:    Baader UV/IR block internal to camera
Processing:    Focused and captured,  RAW to TIFF conversion, flat frame calibration, Digital Development, resizing and JPEG conversion in ImagesPlus.  Final tweaking in Photoshop CS2.