Horsehead and Flame in H-Alpha

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Jared Willson Senior Member • Posts: 1,553
Horsehead and Flame in H-Alpha
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Eventually (in a week or two) this will end up as a full color image. But in the meanwhile, here are the H-alpha data for a widefield view of the Horsehead and Flame Nebulae. This is an eight panel mosaic, a total of about sixteen hours of data spread across the eight panels. I binned the camera 2x2 to avoid turning this into a 0.5 gigapixel image! I was pleased with the depth that was possible with just two hours of data per panel.

Barnard 33 (the Horsehead Nebula) is the dark nebula kind of shaped like a sea hourse near the center of the frame. It is an area of dust that blocks the light from IC 434, the bright gas cloud behind the Horsehead. To the left of the image is the Flame Nebula, IC 2024. It looks sort of like a camp fire on its side. Just above the flame nebula is Alnitak, the eastern most star in Orion's belt. At the top left of the image is Alnilam, the middle star in Orion's belt. The third star that makes up the belt is out of the frame.

The Horsehead resides in the Orion constellation and is part of the larger Orion Molecular Cloud. It is roughly 1,500 light years away and has a radius of abut 3.5 light years.

This image was taken with a Riccardi-Honders telescope (a type of Cassegrain telescope that uses a Mangin primary mirror as well as a front corrector, a secondary mirror, and a singlet field lens) that runs at a relatively fast f/3.8. The focal length of the scope is 1,124mm, and the aperture is a little over 300mm. The telescope is mounted on an AP1100GTO AE mount which is a german equatorial design with absolute encoders to allow for high precision tracking, with or without an autoguider. These images were taken with a guider. Just under 200 separate five minute exposures were captured over three nights to cover the entire frame. Darks, flats, and flatdarks were used for calibration. Pixinsight was used for all image processing. The down-sampled version shown here was created using Lightroom Classic.

Horsehead and Flame, H-Alpha

Hopefully, this will lead to a nice color version!

- Jared

 Jared Willson's gear list:Jared Willson's gear list
Leica Q2 Hasselblad X1D II 50C Leica SL2 Leica SL 90-280mm F2.8–4 Hasselblad XCD 30mm F3.5 +8 more
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