Under the moonlight

It has been almost three weeks since I have been able to do any imaging, there have been a few clear nights to be sure – but all have been on work nights, driving a lorry for a living means I must have some sleep for safety reasons. However last night was perfect once a few clouds had cleared themselves away, a near 17 day old moon meant my object  of choice M1 the Crab nebula was put on hold due to its proximity to the moon, even with the Ha filter . I chose instead the northern most emission nebula, Cederblad 214 is part of NGC 7822, a large emission nebula located in northern Cepheus this is another star forming region about 3000 light years distant, Cederblad 214 is the bright central region and is rich in Ha and dark nebulae. I used 28 x 300 second exposures in Ha to produce this image.

I then got as close to the moon as it would let me to image the Flame and Horsehead nebulae in Orion, the nebulae are located around the star Alnitak ( Zeta Orionis ) which is the lower left star or if you prefer the farthest east on Orions belt. This nebulous region is part of the Orion molecular cloud and lies about 1500 light years away, the Horsehead is a dark cloud of dust and gas that is backlit by Hydogen gas – ionised by the nearby star Sigma Orionis, this star shines Ultraviolet light into the nebula, knocking electrons off hydrogen gas that emit Ha light when the electrons recombine with the ionised hydrogen. The Flame nebula is ionised by the star Alnitak by the same means. Again I used 28 x 300 second exposures but had to make a false flat during processing to remove a gradient caused by the moonlight, it’s not perfect but better than not using one.

The clouds returned at around 5AM, that’s when I called it a night, well a morning anyway. 

1 thought on “Under the moonlight”

  1. Two great images, Will. That false flat worked well. Wouldn’t have guessed there was moonlight about. Greyscale suits these images well.


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