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IC 405 & IC 410 - The Flaming Star & Tadpoles Nebulae

Updated: May 17, 2023

IC 405 (The Flaming Star Nebula) and IC 410 (The Tadpoles Nebula) are two large emission nebulae located in the constellation Auriga. The two objects are often photographed together as they will fit in most wide to medium-size telescopes.

Object Designation: IC 405 | IC 410

Also known as: The Flaming Star Nebula | The Tadpoles Nebula

Constellation: Auriga

Object Type: Emission Nebula

Distance: 1,500 light-years away | 12,000 light-years away

Magnitude: 6.0 | 7.5

Discovered in: 1892

10Micron GM1000 with SVX130 and QHY600M

On the right is the gear used to capture this image. The SVX130 has a focal length of 655mm with the reducer attached.

Using a full-frame camera like the QHY600 allows us to have a much wider field of view and include the Tadpoles nebula in the shot perfectly. The mount is the 10Micron GM1000HPS.

Be sure to watch our full video about photographing these nebulae!


The Flaming Star Nebula and Tadpoles Nebula with the QHY600M and SVX130

December 2021, from the city

We started imaging this part of the sky in December of 2020, but quickly got annoyed because we had tilt in our images. Indeed, we were still getting used to the SVX130 and QHY600 combo and the screws on our field flattener was not properly set.

Fast forward a year later, we had this issue fixed and could now continue our project of capturing the Flaming Star and Tadpoles Nebulae!

The image below is the final result, and we are very pleased with it! We were originally going to trash the "titled" frames from 2020 but ended up stacking them anyway to have an image that totals 30 hours of exposure time. The tilt is not noticeable.

IC 405 and IC 410 (SHO), with the QHY600M

The Flaming Star Nebula and Tadpoles Nebula in narrowband from the city


Camera: QHY600M

Telescope: Stellarvue SVX130

Mount: 10Micron GM1000 HPS

Accessories: Moonlite Nitecrawler focuser / Pegasus Astro Ultimate Powerbox

Processing: PixInsight with RC-Astro Plugins


Total Exposure Time: 30 hours

Exposure Time per frame: 10 minutes

Gain: 56

⚠️ Want to practice processing? ⚠️

Download high-quality astrophotography data to practice processing! You can find the dataset for this target and many more on our Raw Data page! The master files were carefully prepared so that they are ready for you to process.

The files for this image are also available for free in the Raw Data folder for people who support us on Patreon!


The Flaming Star & Tadpoles - Two Nebulae Often Imaged Together

The Flaming Star Nebula in Narrowband
The Flaming Star Nebula

Visible in small telescopes under dark skies, the Flaming Star Nebula is fairly bright thanks to AE Aurigae, the large star that appears to be burning. The object appears mostly red and blue when imaged in true colors. The blue hue comes from carbon gases, as well as the reflecting light from AE Aurigae.

The nebula spans five light-years across, and has an apparent size of 37.0’x19.0′.

Owners of small telescopes, or medium-size telescopes paired with a full-frame camera often image the Flaming Star Nebula with its companion, the Tadpoles Nebula.

The Tadpoles Nebula got its name because of the elongated clouds of dust that look like tadpoles swimming towards the center of the object.

These are active star-forming regions that give birth to new stars over time. Most of the gases in the nebula are lit by the bright open cluster of stars NGC 1893.

The Tadpoles Nebula spans 100 light-years across.

If you read the previous paragraph, you might notice something that doesn't seem to make sense. The Flaming Star Nebula, which appears more massive than the Tadpoles Nebula, has a diameter of five light-years. On the other hand, the Tadpoles Nebula, which looks much smaller in our image, is 100 light-years large.

This is because both nebulae are not as close to one another as they seem to be. The Tadpoles Nebula is much, much farther from Earth (12,000 light-years away) than the Flaming Star Nebula is (1,500 light-years away). Although they appear next to each other when photographed, the two objects are very distanced in space.

An easy way to frame both just right is by using a cropped-sensor camera on a small refractor like the Askar FRA300. You can also use a full-frame camera on a medium-size telescope.


Locating IC405 & IC410

Both IC 405 (The Flaming Star Nebula) and IC 410 (The Tadpoles Nebula) lie very close to one another. They can be found in the constellation Auriga, not far from the bright star Capella. To spot them, look around the side of the constellation that meets Taurus. There are several star clusters in that area, as well as the two nebulae you are looking for.

How to find the Bubble Nebula and open cluster Messier 52 in the night sky, map

The Flaming Star and Tadpoles Nebulae are in the close vicinity of several Messier clusters. You can click on each to open up our full page about the object, and see our own photograph of it along with a lot of information and tips:

IC 405 and IC 410 are located closer to Messier 38.