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About to make an assault on the Horsehead

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#26 Carol L

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 10:08 AM

Check out Carol's link to her sketch. That's EXACTLY what I've seen with my 16" and an H-Beta filter. Great job on the sketch Carol. :bow:

To see the horsey's nose always seemed to take a larger scope. A friend's 28" showed the nose pretty well.


:) Thanks Ed, it basically looked like a dark thumbprint in a very light dusting of talcum powder. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a more favorable chance to see it this winter... the transparency that night wasn't the best, and the temp was 6°F with a light wind.

#27 JoeR

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Posted 24 November 2011 - 03:13 PM

I saw it last night for the first time! It was my first trip to a dark site. Green zone above average seeing. I had my 11" SCT but couldn't see anything due to the corrector and EPs fogged up from the frost. My friend had his 18" Obsession dob with an H-Beta filter. I could easily see the IC434 nebula edge, quickly scanned along and there it was. Very clear nose and all! I could even faintly see a little filament detail for a brief second.

#28 David Knisely

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Posted 25 November 2011 - 01:47 AM

I had it pretty well last night in both an 8 inch f/5 Newtonian and a 14 inch f/4.6 Newtonian using the H-Beta filter. In the 8 inch, it was more of a notch in an extremely dim band of nebulosity, but it the 14 inch, it was pretty obvious. The DGM Optics NPB also showed it easly in the 14 inch, although the H-Beta provided a better view. Indeed, with the Lumicon H-Beta, at 52x (1.338 degree true field), I could see both some of the brighter two filaments of the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024) and the Horsehead at the same time, which made for a fairly pretty picture. The "snout" was also visible, and the Horsehead itself was even visible with the Orion Skyglow filter, so it was definitely a great night. Clear skies to you.

#29 Feidb

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 08:10 PM

Tried last night but all I could see was a faint hint of IC-434 with the H-beta plugged in at 102X. Couldn't see it at all at 70X. Also couldn't see the Flame Nebula except a faint haze around the stars there. It was just too low on the horizon when I tried. My friend had both of them plain as day in his Mallincam.

#30 PhilH

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 05:49 AM

EdZ over in the Binocular Forum asked that I join in the discussion here to mention my success at seeing the Horsehead through a pair of Fujinon 10x70 binoculars. It was many years ago at the Winter Star Party with a pair of H-Beta filters taped to the eyepieces. The binoculars were not mine, but rather Tom Lorenzin's from NC. He has quite the eye! I was also able to see it that same night through my own 11x80's using the same technique. What a kick!!

You can read full details in my February 2011 Binocular Universe e-column right here on CN.
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#31 FirstSight

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 12:08 AM

Wish me luck, I am going in!


Be aware that the reason many people miss spotting the Horsehead, even with ample aperture, dark enough skies and a decent H-Beta filter is that though they pick up the start of the faint line of IC 434's nebulosity at Zeta Orionis and are able to follow it out a bit, it seemingly fades out on them before they get to anything that seems even remotely plausible as the "Horsehead"...and fail to realize that this "fade-out" point is actually the start of the Horsehead's "shoulder" (!!!) Looking carefully a bit further down the line from where IC 434 apparently "vanished", try to pick up the point where it subtly resumes (that's the other shoulder-side to the "head"). Look carefully, and you may then see the faint outlines of the "neck" on either side extending at a sharp bend up from the "shoulder" (indeed the sight is more like the faint outline of a blackened-out thumbprint indentation). Having sighted this, if you have patience and a good, dark, transparent night, you may then pick up the outline of the horse's "snout" extending in one direction from the neck. It won't be anywhere remotely as vivid or close a resemblance to a "horsehead" as appears in astrophotos, but you'll have seen the real-deal available from a visual observing standpoint. Heck, once you recognize even the indentation of the neck unmistakenly, you'll have "seen" the Horsehead as well is available under good, but less than perfect conditions on a majority of nights.

BTW: if you have Kepple & Sanner's "Night Sky Observer's Guide" handy, there's an extremely helpful photograph of the visual landmarks for finding the horsehead, PARTICULARLY the asterism of two stars that form a near-right triangle with the horsehead's shoulder at the third vertex of the triangle.

#32 blb

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 12:25 AM

How true Chris, how true. I have told this in the past but I will once more. Some six or seven years ago now while attending the Mid-Atlantic Star Party, I was looking at the Flame Nebula, NGC 2024, with my C11 and a UHC filter, when I noticed IC 434. I followed it to where it ended like you said and even showed it to some other observers. I was so thrilled to see this faint nebula that I never thought about the Horse Head Nebula. Only if I had gone across to the other side of where the nebula reappeared I would have probably seen the Horse Head, but I didn't. I have kicked myself many times over that.

#33 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 02:01 AM

I caught a few fleeting glimpses of B33 on Thursday night through my 10" Sky-Watcher Collapsible Dob, a 19mm Panoptic, and a borrowed H-beta filter.

Dave Mitsky

#34 jgibson1@emich

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 07:41 PM

The quality of skies is critical in spotting B33. I have tried time and time again from my dark sky site in central lower Michigan with my 12" f/5 dob and a not so dark sky site near Lapeer, MI with a 25" dob. I have to date never seen B33 with or without my H-Beta filter in Michigan.
This was until about two weeks ago. I was observing from Goblin Valley State Park in central Utah and decided to check out the flame. I was observing with the 12" f/5 dob and 17mm Nagler (~90x). The flame was bright and obvious. Much more so than I had ever seen in MI. In fact everything I looked at that night or any night while in the southwest looked leaps and bounds better than any good night in Michigan. I decided that I would swing the scope south where B33 should be. I assumed I would see nothing. To my astonishment I saw a dark notch in what appeared to be the faint glow of a nebula. I stared at it for some time. I thought I was seeing things. I swung to a different object that I was familiar with to make sure my eyes were ok. Swung back to B33 and there it was again. I tried this every night I observed during my trip. This included a night of observing from 10,300 feet just below MRO in New Mexico and it was easily detectable without a filter.

This observation was a highlight of my trip and second only to my observations of Quasar 3C273 and just ahead of my spotting of Pluto. It isn’t the most amazing thing visually but definitely a hell of a challenge and highly rewarding.

Armed with your H-Beta filter you should have no problem spotting this nebula. For kicks and giggles you may want to try the Cocoon Nebula before it gets too low early in the night. This nebula was easily visible in my 12” dob at ~90x with no filter. The dark nebula around it was amazing in the dark skies of central Utah and New Mexico.

Clear Skies,
Jason

#35 Cames

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 03:21 PM

IC 434 reminds me of an aurora whose emanations appear somewhat polarized. Because of this unlikely and admittedly debatable characteristic, its detection is most readily accomplished (it appears most intense) during interval between 45 minutes before and after the nebula reaches its highest point above the horizon on any given night. You can begin looking for its location well ahead of time but you have the best chance of detecting its glow within that 1.5 hour window around culmination.

#36 David Knisely

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 05:25 PM

IC 434 reminds me of an aurora whose emanations appear somewhat polarized. Because of this unlikely and admittedly debatable characteristic, its detection is most readily accomplished (it appears most intense) during interval between 45 minutes before and after the nebula reaches its highest point above the horizon on any given night. You can begin looking for its location well ahead of time but you have the best chance of detecting its glow within that 1.5 hour window around culmination.


Well, it is more a case of overcoming local extinction conditions rather than some kind of polarization issue. I would broaden that viewing time interval somewhat depending on where you are in the world. Under good conditions, from about 40 degrees north latitude, I have seen the Horsehead in my 10 inch f/5.6 Newtonian when it was only about 35 degrees above the southeastern horizon, so at least for me, trying for the object is best done in a four hour window centered on its time on the meridian (up to about two hours before or after transit). Indeed, one clear but cold late fall night when some of the SCTs in our observing group were getting frosted over, a friend of mine had his 8 inch f/5 on the Horsehead when it was only about 25 degrees above the eastern horizon and we could still just see it with the H-Beta filter. Clear skies to you.

#37 Akarsh Simha

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Posted 08 December 2011 - 08:17 PM

Wow @ the polarization argument.

I find it hard to believe that polarization would be significant for visual observation, but it's certainly true that any sort of scatterer is polarization sensitive, just like why the blue sky is highly polarized. Need to think about this and do some experiments. However, it's most likely airmass that's the most important factor, which is why everything appears best near culmination.

#38 Carol L

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 01:02 AM

The transparency was above average on Monday night (12-26) so i decided to try for the Horsehead with the 8"SCT and H-Beta filter.

IC 434 wasn't too difficult, and appeared to be a 'brightening' of the sky rather than a glow. Detecting B33 was a bit harder. I kept my eye moving around the fov until a large faint shadow momentarily popped into my averted vision's 'sweet spot'. A bit of OTA tapping coaxed out a few more sightings.

Out of curiosity, i switched to the UHC filter. IC 434 appeared to be the same dimness, and although B33 was more difficult (than with the H-Beta filter), it was definitely there. One thing for sure. No matter which filter was used, it helped tremendously to know exactly what to look for, and exactly where to look for it.

#39 northernontario

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 06:01 PM

I have been taking a few wild stabs at it myself this season...no luck so far. But there sure are some pretty stars in the area.

I am using a UHC filter and my 16 f/4.5 Dob. I did see a bit of nebula in the area the other night, but no Horse Head.

If I can brave the -25 Celsius tonight....

jake

#40 blb

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 06:17 PM

Jake, often times the nebula IC 434 is little more than a faint brightening of the sky. The horsehead nebula will be the absence of that sky brightening, it's a dark nebula. If you can see the nebula IC 434, then follow it south untill it appears to end and continue on to where it picks back up in about 5 to 6 arc minutes. If you can do that, then see if you can follow the edge of the absence of nebula using averted vision. That absince of nebula is the Horsehead.

#41 northernontario

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 06:36 PM

Thanks for the advice Buddy.

I am going to take another shot at it tonight.

It will be cold, but seeing and transparancy will be above average. The last time I saw the little bit of Nebula transparancy was also above average and it was also cold.

I'll post my results.

Thank you.

jake

#42 Carol L

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 11:50 PM

If you can see the nebula IC 434, then follow it south untill it appears to end and continue on to where it picks back up in about 5 to 6 arc minutes.


I did it a bit backwards with the 8"SCT. :grin:
Instead of following IC434, i first determined the exact location of the Horsehead.

As indicated in the attached 16LB sketch, the Horsehead is a corner of a triangle formed with two similar-magnitude stars. One of the stars has a dimmer companion, so it's easy to determine which stars to use for the triangle.

After determining the exact location of B33, i settled down and waited until IC434 seemed as bright as it was going to get. Then it was just a matter of using the stars as guideposts, and letting my averted vision detect the (rather large) break in IC434's faint luminosity.

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  • 4989331-Horsehead - how to find.jpg


#43 MikeRatcliff

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 03:31 PM

Two nights ago the Horsehead and bright nebula were the best I had seen. I could see some light under the nose area, making the usual-to-me blob shape, as shown in Carol's nice sketch, a little more like the horse head shape seen in pictures. This was with a 16" with an H-Beta. This view was confirmed with another 20" scope and several other observers, also with the H-beta. Two sky meters were showing 21.4. Transparency seemed pretty good, and the zodiacal light from the western horizon up to Jupiter was easy to see.

#44 northernontario

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 12:06 PM

On the night of Dec 28th, I tried again. I was able to see a slight string of nebula, I tried to follow it to the correct area, but it dissappeared on me. :bawling:

I am using an Omega NPB filter. :question:

No heartaches however. The thrill of the chase outweighs any dissappointment. :foreheadslap:

jake

#45 David Knisely

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 03:38 PM

On the night of Dec 28th, I tried again. I was able to see a slight string of nebula, I tried to follow it to the correct area, but it dissappeared on me. :bawling:

I am using an Omega NPB filter. :question:

No heartaches however. The thrill of the chase outweighs any dissappointment. :foreheadslap:

jake


While I have seen the Horsehead a number of times with my NPB filter from my dark sky site, the object always shows up best in the H-Beta filter. I find that an exit pupil of around 3mm to 4mm in size tends to work best on the Horsehead, so you might make sure you are somewhere near that range. Clear skies to you.

#46 Richard Low

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 12:28 AM

I first saw the Horsehead nebula a few years ago in a 10" Teleport with a Pentax 40XL eyepiece and H-beta filter, seen direct without using averted vision.I had also seen it with averted vision in my 11" f/5 dob using an Ultrablock filter with Pentax 40xw eyepiece. It does appear bigger than i thought :)

#47 RolandosCY

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 03:27 AM

Hi there,

Keep trying for the HorseHead! IMO, provided you are under reasonably dark skies (4 on the Bortle is enough), the atmosphere is really the limiting factor. With my friend Foehummer we tried during 2007 many times with uncerain success from various sites. During February 2008 we had our first confirmed sighting using a 10" dob from our regular dark site (which can get to mag 7 or better at the zenith, easily Bortle 2). Then, on the night of January 1st, observing from a seashore site only 10 miles south of a 75,000 people city and a major airport, but under fantastic conditions, we had a much easier time!

Of course, my sighting during November 2009 will remain unforgettable:

Here


The use of H-beta certainly helps, but I strongly believe that the transparency is THE most important factor!

#48 RolandosCY

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 03:36 AM

By the way, talking about the use of H-beta, here is a drawing I made on 18 November 2009 WITHOUT the filter...

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  • 5014890-HHnf0a1.jpg


#49 RolandosCY

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 03:37 AM

By the way, talking about the use of H-beta, here is a drawing I made on 18 November 2009 WITHOUT the filter...

...And one with the Lumicon H-beta filter...

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  • 5014891-HHf1a1.jpg


#50 nytecam

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 11:36 AM

Some great sketches there :bow:

I don't have the luxury of dark skies or access to them hence I work from my London backyard via brief snaps of Horsehead with my cam eg wideangle and closeup - latter under moonlight ;)


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