Hemisphere:  Northern  ·  Contains:  15 S Mon  ·  Christmas Tree cluster  ·  Cone nebula  ·  NGC 2264  ·  Sh2-273  ·  The star 15Mon
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NGC 2264, Christmas Tree Cluster/Cone Nebula, 


            David Dearden
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NGC 2264, Christmas Tree Cluster/Cone Nebula

Imaging telescopes or lenses: Astro-Tech AT8IN

Imaging cameras: ZWO ASI1600MM-Cool

Mounts: Skywatcher NEQ-6 Pro Synscan

Guiding telescopes or lenses: Astro-Tech AT8IN

Guiding cameras: ZWO AS120MM-Mini

Focal reducers: High Point Scientific Coma Corrector Photo & Visual For Netwonian Telescopes 2"

Software: DeepSkyStacker  ·  Noel Carboni's Astro Tools for PhotoShop  ·  StarTools  ·  AstroPlanner  ·  PHD2 Guiding  ·  Sequence Generator Pro  ·  EQASCOM  ·  photoshop

Filters: ZWO Green 31 mm  ·  ZWO H-alpha 7nm  ·  ZWO Blue 31 mm

Accessory: Orion Thin Off Axis Guider (TOAG)  ·  Robert Brown's Arduino ASCOM Focuser Pro DIY  ·  ZWO EFW filter wheel

Dates:Feb. 20, 2020Feb. 21, 2020

ZWO Blue 31 mm: 43x120" (gain: 139.00) -20C bin 1x1
ZWO Green 31 mm: 45x120" (gain: 139.00) -20C bin 1x1
ZWO H-alpha 7nm: 48x300" (gain: 139.00) -20C bin 1x1

Integration: 6.9 hours

Avg. Moon age: 27.10 days

Avg. Moon phase: 6.74%

Bortle Dark-Sky Scale: 5.00

Astrometry.net job: 3271193

RA center: 6h 41' 4"

DEC center: +9° 45' 28"

Pixel scale: 1.719 arcsec/pixel

Orientation: 89.450 degrees

Field radius: 0.700 degrees

Resolution: 2328x1785

Locations: Mapleton Lateral Observatory, Mapleton, Utah, United States

Data source: Backyard


2600 Ly

After a too-long hiatus caused partially be weather and partially by laziness/busyness, I finally got some new imaging done. I’ve been eyeing this target since before Christmas after showing an older image to my class at final exam time and thinking “I can do better on this!” Given a limited amount of imaging time and knowing this area has a lot of Hα emission, I decided to do it using Hα for the R channel and G and B filters to complete the color palette. I also used the Hα for luminance. I think it did turn out better than my best previous attempt; it is certainly framed better.

Date: 20-21 Feb 2020
Subject: NGC 2264, Christmas Tree Cluster/Cone Nebula
Scope: AT8IN+High Point Scientific Coma Corrector
Filters: ZWO 31 mm diameter unmounted 7 nm Hα, G, B
Mount: EQ-6 (EQMOD 2.000j)+PEC
Guiding: Orion Thin Off-axis Guider + ASI120MM-mini +PHD 2.6.7 (Win 10 ASCOM)
Camera: ASI1600MM-Cool, -20 °C, Gain 139 Offset 21
Acquisition: Sequence Generator Pro
Exposure: 48x300 Hα, 45x120 G, 43x120 B
Stacking: Deep Sky Stacker 4.2.2 (64-bit) dark+flat+bias, κ-σ stacking with κ = 1.5.
Processing: StarTools 1.6.387: For Hα, software binned 2x2, cropped, autodev, HDR optimized “hard”, deconvoluted, and untrack denoised (grain elimination). Combined Hα as R, G, & B in StarTools, boosting the R on combination. 2x2 software binned, cropped, autodev, HDR optimized “soft,” color module with some saturation boost. Deconvoluted and untrack denoised (grain elimination). In Photoshop, applied Hα as luminance layer at 50% opacity, and used a layer mask to remove this luminance layer in the area of the Foxfur Nebula. Slight levels and curves. AstroFrame.



David Dearden
License: None (All rights reserved)


  • Final
    NGC 2264, Christmas Tree Cluster/Cone Nebula, 


            David Dearden
  • NGC 2264, Christmas Tree Cluster/Cone Nebula, 


            David Dearden


Description: Stretched a bit more. This version seems a bit over-processed to me, so I think I prefer the original.

Sky plot

Sky plot


NGC 2264, Christmas Tree Cluster/Cone Nebula, 


            David Dearden