Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

Barnard 33 - Messier 42

Horsehead & Orion Nebula Region



The Horsehead Nebula at the lower left and the  Orion Nebula shown on the right are both part of an amazing nebula complex located near the "belt" and "sword" in the constellation of Orion.  Beautiful swirling clouds of dust and gas form bright and dark nebulae. These areas are stellar nurseries where stars form when the clouds condense under the influence of gravity.  The Horsehead is a dark nebula with a "waterfall" of red emission nebula above and is located 1,500 light-years away.  The Orion nebula is one of the brightest in the night sky and is a complex of red emission nebulae located at a distance of 1,300 light-years.  Both the Horsehead Nebula and Orion Nebula are part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud which includes the Barnard's Loop.

The bright star to the left of the "horse head" and directly above the Flame Nebula is Alnitak, the eastern most star in Orion's belt.  Alnilam, the middle star of the belt, can also be seen on the far left side of the image.

North is to the left in the above image.


  • Date & Location:  March 18th  2015 - StarEffects Observatory - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Calm winds with an average temperature of 32F.

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with average transparency.

  • SQM-L:  20.35.

  • Optics:  Canon 70-200mm f2.8L @ 180mm f3.5.

  • Filter:  Astronomik clip-in CLS (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  iOptron iEQ30pro

  • Guiding:  None...PPEC enabled.

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500d) Hap Griffin modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  6 - 5 second subs  @ ISO400

  •                    6 - 1 minute subs @ ISO400

  •                    7 - 3 minute subs @ ISO400

  •                  18 - 4 minute subs @ ISO800

  • Total Exposure 99 minutes

  • Calibration Frames:  None - Custom White Balance

  • Processing:  Images Plus 5.75a, PS CS6, GradientXTerminator, NIK filter tools 

  • Comments:   This was my first serious test image with the iEQ30pro mount which I intend to use as a portable setup from darker sky locations.   I used a tandem ADM bar setup with my Canon DSLR & lens on one side and my TeleVue TV60is mounted on the other.  Guiding was not really needed given the shorter focal length and relatively short exposures, but periodic error correction was previously recorded and played back during image acquisition.  Overall pleased with the results as a cropped portion of the image at 100% magnification reveals mostly round stars.  Not bad considering no auto guider was used to acquire the image set.



Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors