ngc2264, Christmas Tree Cluster and Cone Nebula


Chris Heapy

Macclesfield UK

Scope: TeleVue NP127is Refractor + 0.8x focal reducer
CCD: Atik490EX @ 1×1 binning
Mount: Losmandy G11
Guide: TV Pronto + SX Lodestar.
Data aquired from back garden in Macclesfield, UK.

This is the iconic Christmas Tree Cluster and (on the far left) the Cone Nebula. At lower center is a complex dust cloud with the nickname ‘Foxfur’ – and it does look a little like its name to me. What I tried to do with this composition was to highlight the texture of this huge cloud of interstellar dust and gas, the selection of red (H-alpha) and blue (Sulphur-II) results in a subdued mixture of browns and greys rather than the stark bright Reds normally used, and which I find hides subtle details. Once you get used to the unusual colours (!) you begin to see all those details – particularly in the Foxfur area. The image consists of 8 x 20 minute subframes each of H-alpha (3nM) and Sulpher-II (3nM) rendered as a bi-colour, together with a synthesised Green channel for colour balance.