Tag: Orion


Last four winters we spent our skiing vacation in the same place – Flims-Laax ski resort. Specifically, in Berghaus Nagens. This small ski hotel is at the end of the gondola at 2200 meters above sea level. This means the nearest street lamps are far away. However, the hotel is surrounded by ski slopes. The slopes need to be prepared by snow groomers, which illuminate the white snow. This spoils a bit otherwise very dark sky. However, the main reason was to enjoy the skiing vacation and the starry nights are just an add-on. Last year I struggled with the battery, which froze after a few minutes outside. I purchased a dedicated astro-battery this year and was fortunate with the weather. 4 cloudless nights in one week – I really didn’t expect that to happen.

The initial plan was to capture the Witch Head Nebula, then some dark nebulae in Taurus, and if time allows Pleiades. It went well, so I am slowly preparing a plan for next year.

LensSony 20 mm f1.8 G @f2.2
CameraSony A7III AstroMod
Exposure8x15s, ISO 3200

IC 2118 Witch Head Nebula IC 2118

The Witch Head Nebula is a striking and eerie interstellar cloud of dust and gas located in the constellation Orion. Its distinct shape, resembling the profile of a witch’s face in profile, is created by the illumination of nearby stars. This nebula spans about 50 light-years across and is primarily composed of hydrogen gas, which glows faintly in the presence of ultraviolet radiation from neighboring stars. The nebula is a site of ongoing star formation, with young, hot stars embedded within its dusty tendrils. Captivating and mysterious, the Witch Head Nebula is a captivating sight in the night sky, sparking the imagination of astronomers and stargazers alike.

TelescopeAskar ACL 200 F4
Aperture50 mm
Focal length200 mm
MountRainbow Astro RST 135
AutoguidingZWO 178MM, QHY Mini Guide Scope
CameraZWO 6200MC @-10°C
Exposure73x180s, Gain 100, bin 1×1,

NGC2174 Monkey Head Nebula

Another nebula, which resembles a head of an animal is designated NGC 2174, sometimes called Monkey Head Nebula. After capturing the Horse Head Nebula in the constellation Orion, I waited for a few days for good weather and pointed my telescope again into the Orion, this time to its northern part. Monkey Head Nebula is an HII region, which is approximately 6400 light-years away from Earth. To find a monkey is not that difficult. There is a baboon’s head on the upper left side, which is looking into the constellation Taurus.

The best way to capture this nebula is by using narrowband filters. For this purpose, I ordered a new monochrome camera ZWO 2600MM with a 2″ filter wheel. The filters are equally important as a camera, so I decided on Antlia 3 nm. As a first light, I must say that this combination works really well. I made in total 90 exposures, 5 minutes each, which means over 7 hours of integration time.

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length950 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 2600MM @-10°C
CorrectorMaxField coma corrector
FiltersAntlia Ha, OIII, SII 3 nm
Exposure90x300s, Gain 100, bin 1x1,


Horsehead nebula is IMHO the most beautiful deep space object. It is located in the constellation Orion. Everybody knows this constellation because it can be easily identified by three aligned stars (Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka), which forms the belt of the Orion.

The nebula is very dim. Therefore, visual observation is nearly impossible, unless you have a telescope, having at least 1 meter in diameter. To photograph it, one needs a very long exposure time. I used 5 minutes per image and I took 36 of them. The nebula complex is visually very large, so the optimal focal length should be shorter than 750 mm. I used a Newtonian telescope with a focal length of 1000 mm but reduced to 750 mm by the Nexus coma corrector. It turns the Newtonian into a light-collecting bucket, but the quality suffers from that. The stars in the corners are everything, but round. Moreover, I used dual-band filter Optolong L-eXtreme, which increased the contrast of the nebula, but also made the asymmetric halo around the bright stars. I played a bit with the white balance and pushed the colors into the orange tint, to reach the warmer feeling in cold February.

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length750 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-10°C
CorrectorNexus coma corrector
FiltersOptolong l-eXtreme
Exposure36x300s, Gain 95, bin 1x1,

M78 Nebula

Messier 78 is a reflection nebula located in constellation Orion, visually not far from stars Alnitak Alnilam and Mintaka, which form the Orion’s belt. This nebula is one of the brightest reflection nebulas on the sky, due to reflection of the light coming from two bright stars called HD38563A and HD38563B.

My previous attempt to capture this nebula during my expedition to Schwarzwald was not that successful, due to the due problems, therefore I dedicated nearly 3 hours to this DSO. However, it looks like the picture would need longer integration time.

Technical details:

TelescopeNewton 254/1000 mm
Aperture254 mm
Focal length950 mm
MountGemini G53f
AutoguidingZWO 174MM, TS 60/240 mm
CameraZWO 071 Pro @-20°C
CorrectorTS-Optics 2" 3-element MaxField
FiltersHutech IDAS LPS-D2
Exposure50x180s, Gain 94, bin 1x1,