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Contains:  NGC 2023, Horsehead nebula, IC 434
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Horsehead Nebula in Orion, 


            Hap Griffin
Horsehead Nebula in Orion

Horsehead Nebula in Orion

Technical card

Resolution: 1000x647

Dates:Oct. 1, 2007

Integration: 0.0 hours

Avg. Moon age: 20.09 days

Avg. Moon phase: 71.17% job: 1511812

RA center: 85.248 degrees

DEC center: -2.456 degrees

Pixel scale: 3.323 arcsec/pixel

Orientation: 86.974 degrees

Field radius: 0.550 degrees

Locations: ImagingInfinity Observatory, Bethune, SC, United States


This is the dark nebula known as B33, or more informally, the Horsehead Nebula. It is a cloud of dark dusty material silhouetted against a curtain of glowing hydrogen cataloged as IC-434. While the Horsehead can be viewed visually through large aperture telescopes, it is exceedingly dim and usually requires a very dark sky site and a special filter. On the other hand, it shows up fairly easily in photographs.

The dust of the Horsehead is the remnant of an older generation of stars that long ago died in great nova and supernova blasts spreading the heavy elements they synthesized from primordial hydrogen during their lives back into space. Spectral analysis reveals that the dust is composed largely of silicon, carbon and oxygen. Here we see brand new stars being formed out of this can be seen on the horse's "brow" and another near the tip of its "nose" glowing dimly in red light as they come to life. These new star systems will likely eventually form terrestrial-type planets containing the heavy elements from the dust cloud from which they formed.

The Horsehead figure is actually a dynamic structure formed by the protrusion of a dense area of the larger dust cloud that can be seen at its base. It lies in front of and obscures an area of red glowing hydrogen, IC434. Parts of the base dust cloud can be seen partially obscuring the bright blue reflection nebula NGC2023 at the lower left. The structure is huge...between 12,000 and 13,000 of our own solar systems could be spread out across it's "neck". It is theorized that the Horsehead itself is a "Bok Globule" which will eventually break free from the main cloud and condense into individual stars. B33 lies at a distance of 1500 light years.



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Sky plot

Sky plot


Horsehead Nebula in Orion, 


            Hap Griffin