Barnard 33/IC434: Horsehead Nebula

RA: 5hrs 40min 59secs      Dec: -2 27' 30"    Mag: -   Distance: 1500 light years   Constellation: Orion

This is the second attempt in the last 2 weeks with my telescope pointing at a setting Orion.  I've waited the whole winter to have the opportunity to take this picture but the weather has been so atrocious the whole time that this was my first real chance.  Barnard 33 is the designation of the dark dust cloud which gives the horse's head its shape.  It is thought to be continuous with the dust cloud that can be seen in the middle of NGC2024 nearby.  IC434 is the designation of the red nebulosity which makes up part of the great Orion nebula complex.  This picture was taken in 2 series of exposures with the Meade DSI with the Broadband filter on the evening of the 20th of March 2007.  When I was setting up the tripod at 6 in the evening, it started snowing!  Luckily, the weather forecasters were right and the sky cleared although the wind continued to blow from a northwesterly direction at 10mph with gusts up to 21mph.  The vibrations cost me a lot time in wasted 30 second frames.  Apart from the broadband filter, this  was made with my usual set up of f3.3 focal reducer, and guidance using Envisage software (manually).

Two frames (41x30 seconds and 21x30 seconds) were stacked using Maxim DL (sum) making a cumulative exposure time of only 31 minutes.  The picture was only minimally processed with darkpoint resetting with the Levels command, a layer mask for the stars to prevent blooming during midtone enhancement, and differential enhancement of the nebula in each of the RGB channels using the Curves command, mainly in the R channel.  The picture is as close to the original frame as it can be.

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