A very popular deepsky object for backyard astrophotographers is the Horsehead and Flame Nebulae in Orion. Undoubtedly a fascinating region of space to image!
I imaged the Horsehead and Flame Nebulae in March of 2019 using my Skywatcher Esprit 100 triplet refractor, Moravian G3-16200EC CCD camera and Optolong RGB and Ha filters. I used a Skywatcher EQ6 mount and all of my gear sits on a Skyshed Pier.
I wanted to return to this data and reprocess it utilizing the new skills I’ve developed in image processing with PixInsight. This also gave me something to do while its been cloudy and snowing here the past couple months.
Imaging the Horsehead and Flame Nebulae is best done with a wide field telescope such as my Esprit 100 or the Raptor61. This is so that you can capture both of them in the same field-of-view. My Esprit refractor as example is 550mm focal length which strikes a nice balance between wide field and overall size of these two deepsky objects in the photo.
The Horsehead nebula is located just to the south of the very bright star 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.
Imaging this deepsky object is challenging for me as the constellation of Orion for most of the Winter season is behind trees. 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.
Below are some other images I took of this region of space. Both are from 2010. The widefield image was taken with a Skywatcher Equinox 80mm doublet refractor and Canon 350XT DSLR. The closeup view was taken using a Celestron CPC800 @ F6.3 and a Canon 350XT DSLR.
Have you imaged the Horsehead and Flame nebulae? Let me know in the comments below!
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