Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) Flame Nebula (NGC 2024)

Horsehead Nebula

The Horsehead Nebula (also known as Barnard 33 in emission nebula IC 434) is a dark nebula in the constellation Orion. The nebula is located just to the south of the star Alnitak, which is farthest east on Orion’s Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. The nebula was first recorded in 1888 by Williamina Fleming on photographic plate B2312 taken at the Harvard College Observatory. The Horsehead Nebula is approximately 1500 light years from Earth. It is one of the most identifiable nebulae because of the shape of its swirling cloud of dark dust and gases, which is similar to that of a horse’s head when viewed from Earth.

Flame Nebula

The Flame Nebula, designated as NGC 2024 and Sh2-277, is an emission nebula in the constellation Orion. It is about 900 to 1,500 light-years away. The bright star Alnitak (ζ Ori), the easternmost star in the Belt of Orion, shines energetic ultraviolet light into the Flame and this knocks electrons away from the great clouds of hydrogen gas that reside there. Much of the glow results when the electrons and ionized hydrogen recombine. Additional dark gas and dust lies in front of the bright part of the nebula and this is what causes the dark network that appears in the center of the glowing gas. The Flame Nebula is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, a star-forming region that includes the famous Horsehead Nebula.

Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) and Flame Nebula (NGC 2024)
Horsehead and Flame Nebula


Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) and Flame Nebula (NGC 2024)


February 9, 2013


Telescope: Takahashi Sky 90II with F/4.5 reducer/flattener

Camera: SBIG ST-2000XM w/ CFW9v2 (Astronomik HaLRGB)

Autoguider: Orion Starshoot

Guidescope: Orion 80mm Shorty

Mount: Celestron CG-5 Mount

Exposure Info:

Ha: 3 x 10 min

R: 1 x 3 min (2×2 binned)

G: 1 x 3 min (2×2 binned)

B: 2 x 3 min (2×2 binned)

Total exposure time: 42 minutes


Ha: 3 x 10 min

Total exposure time: 30 minutes


Maxim DL 5.23, Photoshop CS6


This was my first time successfully processing a color image using the HaRGB channels. The color image needs more data as I lost guiding once the Orion Constellation crossed the meridian. I like the way the Ha image came out but I definitely need to reshoot the color image to get a more richer image with less noise.

2 comments to Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) Flame Nebula (NGC 2024)

  • Claire Gibson  says:

    Hi Michael,

    My name is Claire and I am working on the second series of CBBC children’s show, Eve. I am seeking permission to use the above colour photo of the Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) Flame Nebula (NGC 2024) in one of our episodes.

    In our script, the image will appear on a computer screen and is being looked at by 2 of our characters. If you can email me directly, I am more than happy to send across the script page for you to read.

    We are filming this on Tuesday 14th July. Info about the series can be found at this link

    Could you get back to me and let me know if you are the right person to contact regarding this request and if so when you might be able to make a decision as to whether you would like to grant permission?

    Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind regards

    • isg  says:

      Hi Claire…I would be honored. You can use my image in your show. I will follow up with an email. Thanks!!!

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