Just north of Orion in the winter Milky Way constellation of Monoceros, this area of nebulosity makes up one of the most colorful and exciting areas of the night sky. Pictured above is NGC 2264, an open cluster of stars known as the "Christmas Tree" due to its characteristic shape. At the top of the image, and pictured in the inset below, is the Cone Nebula, an areas of stellar growth activity that is one of the more pictured areas of the sky. The rolling nebulosity around the center of the image is known as the "Foxfur." Also pictured here at the lower left corner of the image is NGC 2259, a 10.8 magnitude open star cluster.
8, 2004 (Ha info) and December 10, 2004 (color info)
Extra Notes: Ha info blended into red at 70%. Ha info then used again as luminance at 50%. A string was taped to end of aperture to create the diffraction spikes.
NGC 2264 - The Cone Nebula and the Christmas Tree Cluster
Do you see the Christmas tree? The bright star at right is the base of the tree and the stars trace the edges of the tree to the bright star at left in the image, representing the top of the tree. It's at this point that the Cone Nebula begins. The Cone itself is a dark nebula of gases and dust. But out from behind it comes a celestial star factory, where some young stars are being produced. The region is easily seen in the winter sky constellation of Monoceros. The cluster and brighter parts of the emission nebula can be seen through small to medium sized scopes, but it requires large aperture and dark skies to make out the Cone Nebula.
Observatory in Azle, Texas
Exposure Notes: String over aperture creates the diffraction spikes. This object could use lots of more exposure time and some color info, but I think it's quite nice.
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