Skies By Africa

Images of the Heavens By Eric Africa

M-78, Barnard's Loop and LDN 1622

Barnards Loop
Heaven and Hell is the title of the Vangelis piece that was the opening theme of the original version of Carl Sagan's Cosmos. That title feels appropriate for this wide-field view of M78 and LDN 1622 with Barnard's Loop in between. M78 provides a look of Heaven with its bright blue reflection nebulosity, while LDN 1622 broods in its darkness (many renditions of LDN 1622 show it as a dark, foreboding entity, and it is appropriately called the Boogeyman Nebula). A river of fire (Barnard's Loop) separates the two and keeps the Boogeyman from ever leaving its Hell and invading M78's Heaven.

In reality, Barnard's Loop is a huge emission nebula in Orion. Designated Sharpless 276 (SH 2-276), it is part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex that includes the famous Orion Nebula and Horsehead Nebula. It stretches through about 10 degrees of of the sky (by comparison, the Full Moon occupies only half a degree of sky!) It is so big that only a small section of it is visible in this widefield image (which is about 2-1/2 x 4 degrees in size). It is named after astrophotographer Edward Emerson Barnard, who photographed it in 1894. Source: Wikipedia

M78, which I shot solo back in 2011, is a nice mix of reflection and dark nebulae (more information on it can be found here)

LDN 1622 is composed of dark nebulae in front of emission nebulae with a small reflection nebula capping the Boogeyman's "head". It is actually believed to be closer to us than the other objects. M78 and Barnard's Loop are estimated to be about 1500 light-years away, while LDN 1622 is about 500 light-years distant
Constellation: Orion
When Visible: December - April
Distance: approximately 1,500 light-years (M78 and Barnard's Loop), 600 light-years (LDN 1622)
Date: December 2013 - January 2014
Location: Rancho Hidalgo, Animas, NM
Exposure Details:
L: 54 x 10 Minutes Binned 1x1
R: 24 x 10 Minutes Binned 1x1
G: 24 x 10 Minutes Binned 1x1
B: 24 x 10 Minutes Binned 1x1

21 Hours total exposure time
Equipment Used:  Takahashi FSQ-106N on an Astro-Physics AP1200GTO mount. SBIG STL-11000 camera with 8-position filter wheel and Astrodon filters. Robofocus focuser. Externally guided with an SBIG Remote Guide Head on a Borg 45ED refractor.
Acquisition Software : MaximDL, TheSky6, CCDAutopilot
Processing Software: MaximDL, Photoshop CS5, HLVG, Astro Actions by Noel Carboni, IrFanView