Date: November 5th, 2011

Exposure: 20 x 480 seconds (2h 40min)

About This Image


Telescope: Sky-Watcher Equinox 80ED
Mount: Celestron CPC1100
Camera: SBIG ST-8300C
Filter: IDAS LPS-P2 2"
Guiding: Orion 50mm Mini Guidescope
Software: Photoshop • Deep Sky Stacker • Starklabs PHD Guiding


In the depths of the Orion constellation, a cosmic duo emerges, captivating astronomers and stargazers alike. The Horsehead and Flame Nebulae, an entwined masterpiece of cosmic artistry, beckon with their ethereal allure. Situated approximately 1,500 light-years away from our planet, this celestial pair enchants with their intricate beauty. The Horsehead Nebula, named for its unmistakable silhouette resembling a majestic equine profile, stretches about three light-years across. Its iconic shape is carved by dark dust clouds that obscure the vibrant glow of nearby stars, leaving a hauntingly captivating visage against the backdrop of the cosmic canvas. Right beside it, the Flame Nebula dances with fiery brilliance. Spanning about 15 light-years in length, its radiant glow emanates from the intense ultraviolet radiation emitted by neighboring newborn stars, causing the surrounding gas and dust to shimmer in hues of crimson and gold.

Together, the Horsehead and Flame Nebulae create a spellbinding cosmic tableau, evoking a sense of mystery and awe. Within their celestial realm, the cycle of stellar birth and evolution unfolds in a symphony of creation. Dusty tendrils and intricate filaments weave through the stellar nurseries, nurturing the birth of new stars while revealing the relentless forces shaping the cosmos. The contrasting beauty of darkness and luminosity, as well as the interplay between hidden forms and radiant illumination, make the Horsehead and Flame Nebulae a captivating celestial sight, reminding us of the infinite wonders that lie within the reaches of our universe.

Distance: 1,500 light-years
Size: Horsehead: 3 light-years, Flame: 15 light-years


All Images    Craig Sherris