It’s been quite some time since I imaged this region of space. Nearly 10 years much to my surprise as I thought about it. Returning once again to the Horsehead and Flame Nebulae, I found myself armed with a new equipment and a new set of imaging and processing skills than previous. 

Horsehead and Flame Nebulae
The uncropped version of this image of the Horsehead and Flame Nebulae.

Imaging this deepsky object is challenging for me as the constellation of Orion for most of the Winter season is behind trees for me. I have to wait until late evenings in March in order to be able to image it. This combined with weather and a short imaging window before it dips to low to the horizon, makes it really difficult to gather data on.

It took me 4 nights over the period of almost a month to gather enough Ha and RGB data to produce this image. It was well worth the effort though.

Esprit 100 triplet refractor used to take this image is pointed at the constellation of Orion
Esprit 100 triplet refractor used to take this image is pointed at the constellation of Orion

Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) is an infamous dark nebula in the constellation Orion. The Horsehead nebula is located just to the south of Alnitak, the easternmost star of Orion’s Belt. Williamina Fleming was the first to record it in 1888 on a photographic plate taken at the Harvard College Observatory. She was a Scottish astronomer. It gets its name from having the appearance of a horse’s head.

Nearby lies the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024). In front of the bright glowing center is dark gas and dust and this is what creates the dark network that appears in the center of the nebula, giving its appearance of a flame.

The Horsehead nebula is thought to be around 1500 light years from Earth. While the Flame nebula is estimated at 900-1500 light years distant.


  • Skywatcher Esprit 100mm APO refractor, F5.5
  • Moravian G3 16200 CCD @ -25deg C
  • Optolong filters Ha-R-G-B
  • Skywatcher EQ6 mount / Skyshed Pier
  • 5 hours 10min total / 10min subs
  • SGP, PHD, EQmod softwares for acquisition
  • Pixinsight 1.8 calibration, processing
  • Seeing and transparency poor to good
  • Location: Kitchener, Ontario25

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