Horsehead and Flame Nebulae in Orion – 04/01/2014
I’ve finally got my first image of my favourite set of objects in the entire sky – the Horsehead nebula (IC 434) and Flame Nebula (NGC 2024) complex in Orion. These objects are part of a large complex of nebulae throughout Orion. However, as a photographic target, I think this area is one of the finest in the heavens. Te large star in the centre is Altinak, which is the left-most star of Orion’s belt (if you’re in the northern Hemesphere).
It was taken with my astro-modded Canon EOS 1100D, with Astronomik CLS filter for light pollution reduction. It’s the result of 24x 4 minute exposures at ISO 800, totalling 96 minutes of exposure time. It was taken through the Revelation 80mm f/6 semi-apo refractor, mounted on the HEQ5 pro, and guided using my finder guider equipped with QHY5v via PHD. It was processed in Deep Sky Stacker, including Dark, Flat and Bias frames, and stretched and fiddled with in Photoshop, then finished off in Lightroom, and cropped slightly to balance the composition.
This is the result of several firsts.
i) The first light of my Astronomik CLS light pollution filter.
ii) The first (proper) light of my Canon 1100D astro-modded camera
iii) The first time I’ve collected over an hour of data for a single image.
I’m extremely happy with the result. I’m so glad I’ve finally been able to image this object that has been elusive to me ever since I started astronomy about 25 years ago.
People are often amazed at what data is in the frames once the processing is done. Just out of interest, below is a single 4-minute exposure from the imaging session. It’s only when 24 of these were combined, and then the result was ‘stretched’ to bring out the dynamic range of the image, that the end result came near…