Home > Uncategorized > The Horsehead Nebula in H-alpha

The Horsehead Nebula in H-alpha

The 1983 National Geographic cover featuring this nebula really captured my imagination as a child.  I’ve always thought it was one of the coolest things in the sky, and it’s amazing that amateurs can now take images from their backyard that rival the best professional observatory pictures then.

This grayscale image represents 27 ten-minute exposures through a Hydrogen-alpha narrowband filter. This filter captures only deep-red light produced by ionized Hydrogen (and Nitrogen) in the nebula.  Consider that the visible light we see ranges from about 400 to 700 nm in wavelength.  Here, you are only seeing the light from a tiny sliver of the spectrum from 653-659 nm which, fortunately for us, is where nearly all of the light from this object is emitted.

The Horsehead Nebula in H-alpha

Image data:

Exposures:  27 x 600s Ha, a total of 4h 30m, taken 17 Feb 2012.

Software:  guiding by PHD, stacking in DeepSkyStacker, processing in Photoshop CS3

Telescope:  Borg 77EDII w/ f/4.3 reducer

Camera:  SBIG ST-8300M with Baader filters

Mount:  CGEM

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