Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Flaming Horsehead

On Sunday night (11/3/13) I dragged a couple friends with me to Mingo Creek Park Observatory for what I figured would be some minor astrophotography and binocular viewing.  We arrived to find the director of the observatory and another AAAP member doing research on Variable Stars using the large reflector telescope.  Not expecting to do any "big scope" observing we were thrilled when they warmly welcomed us into the facility and showed us several deep sky and planetary objects.  We viewed the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), the Orion Nebula (M42), Jupiter, and Uranus (which I had never observed).

When they closed up we went outside and under the moonless and cloudless sky we used the new and improved barn door sky tracking mount to shoot a wide field of Orion.  I wanted to show some of the nebulosity in the constellation, specifically Barnard's Loop or the entire Orion Molecular Cloud Complex but had very poor luck.  I'll try again when the constellation is higher, away from the horizon and light pollution.  I was tickled to see the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024) coming out in the wide shots and decided to target that next.  It's the fuzzy thing located just next to the bottom belt star in the photo.  Even the Rosette Nebula showed itself slightly on the lower left, that'll be a target soon as well.
180sec, f6.3, ISO800

Orion with prominent nebula locations

Just shooting with my un-modified Nikon D90, I was not expecting to be able to image the Flame Nebula very well and was even more amazed when the Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) began to emerge in my processed shots. This image could definitely (and will) be improved upon with more stacked images but I'm very excited to show this off.
21 images stacked in DeepSkyStacker
f6.3, 60sec, ISO1600

And just a fun shot with my (wife's) car and some light painting.

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