This is hands down, my favorite object to shoot. I try to image it annually to measure the progress of my craft. I remember my very first image, horribly blood red image with a black outline of the horsehead. I’ve come a long way, and so has my gear. I had a weeks vacation scheduled for the Winter Star Party this year, but it was canceled so I went to my own dark sky site. I really think this is the best one I’ve taken so far.
This was first light with my new AP Stowaway refractor, and I shot with both a Canon Ra and the QHY 128c. The QHY won that battle, this is just 2.2 hours of 3 minute exposures. The area from the horsehead and up is glowing hydrogen gas, but there’s quite a bit of dust below that scatters reddish light as well. Almost a red/mud brown. Of course, the little pockets of blue reflection nebula really punctuate the region too! I especially like the area cataloged as NGC 2023, which is the blue “tunnel” just to the lower left of the horse head proper. The big yellow “flame” is called the flame nebula, and was once popularly called the “burning bush”, which I think is still appropriate!