StormEffects

Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti


The Horsehead Nebula Region

IC 434 / Barnard 33 / NGC 2024 Flame Nebulae

Orion

Mouse Over the above image for deep sky object identification

The famous Horsehead Nebula (Bernard dark nebula B33) represents a dark cloud of dust and non-luminous gas which obscures and silhouettes the emitted light of  IC 434 behind it. The large red "waterfall" emission nebula IC 434 has in turn received all its energy from the bright star Sigma Orionis (click on image for location).  Along with the Orion Nebula, these nebulae near the Horsehead are part of a very large complex that is a stellar nursery where stars are forming out of the dust and gas. Located about 1,500 light years away, this vast complex is the closest star forming region to our own solar system

The surrounding region also contains a multitude of different objects all unique in their own right. The bright emission nebula to the lower left of the brightest star in this image, Alnitak--- the easternmost star in the three distinctive stars in Orion's belt, is NGC 2024 (the Flame Nebula). Infrared studies have revealed a huge cluster of infant stars hidden behind the dust and gas of NGC 2024. The bright blue reflection nebula to the lower left of the Horsehead is NGC 2023. Interstellar dust reveals its presence by blocking light emitted from stars or nebulae behind it. Dust is composed mostly of carbon, silicon, oxygen and some heavier elements. Even organic compounds have been detected.

North is to the left in this image.

IMAGE DETAILS:

  • Date & Location:  January 9 & 10th, 2013 - StarEffects Observatory - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Light winds, steady temperature near 30F. 5% snow cover and a moderate frost

  • Sky Conditions:  Mostly clear with a few cirrus streaks, average transparency.

  • SQM-L: 20:15 average with a peak of 20:22

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is @ 540mm f5.4

  • Filter:  Hutech IDAS-LPS (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Orion SSAG @ 5 second exposures

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500d) Hap Griffin modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  10 x 30 sec, 10 x 4 min, 20 x 8 min (3 hours 28 min total) all at ISO 800

  • Calibration Frames:  None - sub freezing

  • Processing:  Images Plus 4.50b, PS CS6, GradientXTerminator, NIK filters  

  • Comments:  The ten second exposures were taken to properly expose the bright star Alnitak..  The other exposures increasingly captured the finer filaments of the nebula's outer reaches.  The exposures were then each calibrated in Images Plus and brought into PS CS6 for processing. 

 

Comparisons below from previous imaging sessions

IMAGE DETAILS for above image:

  • Date & Location:  October 21, 2009 - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Calm wind - 37F.

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with average transparency. 

  • Optics:  TeleVue TV60is Refractor (360mm -f/6) with field flattener.

  • Filter:  Hutech IDAS-LPS (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  Losmandy G-11 equatorial with Gemini V4

  • Guiding:  None

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500D) Hap Griffin Modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  24 min (6 x 4 min) @ ISO 800, RAW

  • Calibration Frames:  In camera dark frame subtraction

  • Processing:  Photoshop CS4, Noise Ninja, NIK 

  • Comments:  This is one of my first light images that was tracked, but not guided.  Star Trailing resulted in part due to an off center polar alignment scope reticle and the need for Periodic Error Correction (PEC).

 

IMAGE DETAILS for above image:

  • Date & Location:  December 12, 2009 (after midnight) - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Calm wind, 18F.

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with good transparency. 

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is Refractor with 0.8x TeleVue Reducer = 432mm @ f4.3

  • Filter:  Astronomic  EOS clip-in CLS-CCD (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  Losmandy G-11 equatorial with Gemini V4

  • Guiding:  Orion Solitaire w/TeleVue TV60is

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500D) Hap Griffin Modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  43 min (1 x 5 min, 1 x 6 min), 4 x 8) @ ISO 800 RAW

  • Calibration Frames:  No dark frame subtraction (18F)

  • Processing:  Photoshop CS4, Noise Ninja, GradientXTerminator, NIK 

  • Comments:  Guiding errors resulting in somewhat soft star images and loss of detail.  One of my favorite targets, so I'll be shooting this one again and again!

 

Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

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