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The Holy Grail - or at least The Horsehead

Well sort of. , ,

I'll be the first to admit, this view of the Horsehead is not overhwelming. But, it is there - honest - take a close look.


Seeing the Horsehead has been one of my main goals, off and on, for nearly five decades of amateur astronomy. It's an icon that seems to appear in nearly any book of astronomical pictures. What an intriguing nebula! And it looks so good in those long time exposure photographs from the big observatories. Last winter Pete Peterson, trasurer of the local club, said he found it using a 14-inch and a hydrogen beta filter. So I bought a hydrogen beta filter, but I haven't found the Horsehead yet - visually that is.

Here's what I'm looking for - IN MY DREAMS! horseheada_kp.jpgThis is a super shot taken at the National Science Foundation's 0.9-meter telescope on Kitt Peak with the NOAO Mosaic CCD camera.

A couple of times in the last few weeks I've looked for it with the LX90 (8-inch) and the video camera and seen nothing. Maybe I didn't know what to expect. But the other night I asked the 15-inch to "go to" it having just observed M1 with the video and bingo! Suddenly I was staring at a screen that I knew contained it. But when I took the camera out and looked visually I could not find it - so I still have a goal. If you still can't see it - it may help to know that my picture shows a much smaller portion of sky, so the Horsehead dominates the center of the frame.

I'm sure others can do a better job with video cameras - I'm just learning - but what I am finding in my early exploration is that sometimes the video is overwhelming, showing objects as I remember seeing them from professional observatories - though not with all the details, of course. But some objects it simply can't come near what the major observatories - and good amateur still photographers - are doing these days.

Ah well - the good news todau is, NASA has come to its sense and is ging to try to rescue the Hubble - arguably the most important scientific instrrument - and most productive - ever put in space.

Posted by Greg Stone at October 31, 2006 05:49 PM Comments? Please email me: gstone@umassd.edu

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