top of page

IC 434 - The Horsehead (And Flame) Nebula

Updated: May 18, 2023

IC 434 (The gases behind the horse’s head) and Barnard 33 (The actual horse’s head dark nebula) form the famous Horsehead nebula, not far from the Orion Nebula.

Photographing this group of nebulae is easy, as long as you spend enough time on it, as the red gases of IC 434 are pretty faint and will look grainy if the total exposure time is too low.

IC 434 refers to the pink cloud you see behind the horse head. Barnard 33 is the actual Horse Head, which is a dark nebula. 

We imaged this target several times, with different equipment going from a simple DSLR camera and tripod to a telescope and narrowband filters! We'll show you our favorite attempts below.


The Horsehead Nebula with a small refractor from the city

January 2021

In January of 2021, we made a video where we photographed the Orion Nebula with the Radian Raptor 61 refractor telescope from the city. We used a one shot color cropped sensor camera for that shot along with the Triad Ultra filter. The image turned out great for just 9.75 hours of exposure (see it HERE!).

Radian Raptor and QHY600M
The equipment used for tonight's image

A few days later, we set up our equipment again but this time took off the Triad Ultra filter and the OSC camera, and instead attached our monochrome camera with filter wheel. The camera used is the QHY600M which has a full frame sensor, so our field of view is much wider! Because of that we were able to include both the Horsehead Nebula and the Orion Nebula in a single frame!

We ended up getting about 8 hours and 15 minutes in total. The color palette here is rarely seen, and might not be to your liking, but we wanted to get a little crazy and we tried an O/H/S combination instead of the usual S/H/O or H/S/O. You can see that image in our new video HERE.

NASA teased us by featuring it on their "Sky" Facebook page but did not pick it for an APOD of course, so we decided to keep on imaging it every single night until reaching 30 hours of exposure. Here it is below!

The Horsehead Nebula and Orion Nebula with a small refractor in narrowband from the backyard