Adrift 1,500 light-years away in one of the night sky's most recognizable constellations, the glowing Orion Nebula and the dark Horsehead Nebula are contrasting cosmic vistas. They both appear in this stunning composite digital image assembled from over 20 hours of data that includes exposures filtered to record emission from hydrogen atoms. The view reveals extensive nebulosities associated with the giant Orion Molecular Cloudcomplex, itself hundreds of light-years across. The magnificent emission region, the Orion Nebula (aka M42), lies at the upper right of the picture. Immediately to its left are a cluster of of prominent bluish reflection nebulae sometimes called the Running Man. The Horsehead nebula appears as a dark cloud, a small silhouette notched against the long red glow at the lower left. Alnitak is the easternmost star in Orion's belt and is seen as the brightest star to the left of the Horsehead. Below Alnitak is the Flame Nebula, with clouds of bright emission and dramatic dark dust lanes. Fainter tendrils of glowing hydrogen gas are easily traced throughout the region.
Four frame mosaic, hydrogen alpha color composite FSQ106, STL11000, Total Exposure 50 Hours Image acquired at the Nighthawk Observatory. Image data acquired remotely using CCDAutoPilot2. RCOS 20RC and 12.5" f/8 Carbon Truss Ritchey-Chrétiens with RCOS Field Flattener / Corrector.
Software Bisque Paramount ME, SBIG STL-11000XM.
This mosaic represents a monumental imaging effort and is sure to set a standard for wide field extremely high resolution astrophotography. This image can be printed as large as 4 feet by 8 feet without appreciable image qualiy loss. Stunning. Offered in special Panoramic sizes.