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IC 434   The Horse Head Nebula

This image was taken in the middle of January 2013 as a fill in of time while acquiring the data for another object, it is not the best image I can produce for this subject but it does have a quality I couldn’t throw away. The data for this image was taken over a 4 day period; the exposure times for this image were limited only by the first preference of the main object of the 4 day operation of the scope.

IC 434, also known as Barnard 33, is a bright emission nebula in the constellation Orion. It was discovered on February 1, 1786 by William Herschel. This nebula is located just to the south of the star Alnitak, which is farthest east on Orion's Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. The Horse Head Nebula is about 1500 light years from Earth, and about 25 light years across. This complex is the closest star forming region to our own solar system, it is one of the most identifiable nebulae because of the shape of its swirling cloud of dark dust and gases forming the shape of a horse’s head.

The reflection nebula NGC 2023, the blue nebula on the left lower edge of this image, is one of the brightest sources of fluorescent molecular hydrogen, and at 4 light-years wide it is one of the largest in the nights sky.

The red or pinkish glow originates from the hydrogen gas behind the nebula, ionized by the nearby bright star Sigma Orionis. The darkness of the Horse Head is caused mostly by thick dust, the lower part of the Horse Head's neck casts a shadow to the left. Streams of gas leaving the nebula are created by a strong magnetic field.

This image was taken in January of 2013

This image consists of 15 X 10 minute RGB*, 25 X 10 minutes L*, and 25 X 10minutes HA*.

Equipment:      Software: Site:
Hyperion 12.5 Astrograph
Mountain Instruments MI250
Maxim DL 4.64
The Sky 6
Photo Shop CS2

Oak Hills Observatory
Hesperia, Ca.