NGC 2264 Cone Nebula and Christmas Tree Cluster
NGC 2264
Christmas Tree Cluster and Cone Nebula
Star Cluster with Emission, Reflection and Dark Nebulae, in Monoceros


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NGC2264: This is a large region of nebulosity, which includes a great deal of emission nebula (red), some reflection nebula (blue), dark nebula (much of the cone, as well as some other parts), and an open star cluster (the "Christmas Tree Cluster"). To put a scale on this, the Cone Nebula is estimated to be about 7 light years long; the entire width and height of this image is a bit less than a degree of arc, or about 45 light years across for objects 2500 light years away. This is part of an extensive star-forming region. Various parts of this image are at varying distances from us; it is estimated that the Cone Nebula is about 2500 light years away from us, and the bright star cluster) is about 2200 light years from us. NGC 2264 is the designation given to the entire region of this photo.

I last imaged this 16 years earlier, with a very fine, but small, refractor. I am pleased (relieved?) that this version shows considerably more detail than did that version; see my old version here.


Technical Information:

Ha:L:R:G:B: 780:705:210:180:240 (a total of over 35 hours of light-frame exposure time); luminance layer was a combination of forty-three 15-minute images through a luminance filter, twenty 3-minute images through a luminance filter, and 26 thirty-minute images through a hydrogen-alpha filter; red was a blend of fourteen 15-minute images though a red-pass filter, and the Ha data; green was twelve 15-minute images through a green-pass filter; blue was twelve 20-minute images through a blue pass filter.

Equipment: RC Optical Systems 14.5 inch Ritchey-Chretien carbon fiber truss telescope, with ion-milled optics and RCOS field flattener, at about f/9, and an SBIG STX-16803 camera with internal filter wheel (SBIG filter set), guided by an SBIG AO-X, all riding on a Bisque Paramount ME German Equatorial Mount.

Image Acquisition/Camera Control: Maxim DL, controlled with ACP Expert/Scheduler, working in concert with TheSkyX Professional Edition.

Processing: All images calibrated (darks, bias and sky flats), aligned, combined and cropped in Pixinsight. Color combine in Pixinsight. Some finish work (background neutralization, color calibration, some sharpening, deconvolution with BlurXterminator, and noise reduction with NoiseXterminator) done in Pixinsight; some cleanup finish work was done in Photoshop CC.

Location: Data acquired remotely from Sierra Remote Observatories, Auberry, California, USA.

Date: Images taken on many nights in November and December of 2022, and January of 2023. Image posted July 8, 2023.

Date: Image scale of full-resolution image: 0.56 arcseconds per pixel.

Seeing: Generally good

CCD Chip temperature: -25C

Copyright 2022, 2023 Mark de Regt

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