Witch Head Nebula, IC 2118 (Copy)


The Witch Head Nebula, IC 2118 shaped reflection nebula is about 800 light-years away though. The gas and dust in the nebula cloud is illuminated by the nearby bright star Rigel in Orion, just off the left edge of this frame. More formally known as IC 2118, the interstellar cloud of dust and gas is nearly 70 light-years across, its dust grains reflecting Rigel’s starlight. Rigel lies about 100 light years away and is still able to illuminate the nebula. The bright star in the image is Erandanus Psi which lies about 740 light years from us so it lies in front of the Witch Head and is not a major factor in illuminating it.  In this composite portrait, the nebula’s bluish color is caused not only by the star’s intense bluish light but because the dust grains efficiently scatter blue light. The red color comes from hydrogen gas that is widespread in the Orion constellation called the Orion molecular cloud. It is about 3 degrees in the sky which is 6 moon diameters.


Optics: 6″ Takahashi FS152 with f6 focal reducer at 900mm
Mount: Software Bisque Paramount MX+
Camera: FLI PL16803
Filters: FLI LRGB
Dates/Times: January 2019
Location: Adler Earth and Sky Observatory, Jackson Hole, WY
Exposure Details: L=18x20min, 1:1 , RGB=14x20min, 2:2, total 60 images, 20 hr
Acquisition & Guiding: MaximDL/TheSkyX, Takahashi FSQ85 & SBIG 8300
Processing: MaximDL, Photoshop CC2018