With a lot of great detail in a really nice field of view, Andrew Lesser’s image of the Horsehead and Flame Nebula wins Photo of the Week on February 26, 2021.
“Located near Alnitak, the easternmost star in Orion’s Belt, these two iconic nebulae are always a favourite sight in the winter months of the Northern Hemisphere,” Lesser wrote. “Their distinct shapes are the result of dark interstellar dust blocking the starlight from reaching our view.”
The Horsehead Nebula, also known as IC 434, is a bright emission nebula. The “horsehead,” Barnard 33, is a dark nebula in front of it. The Flame Nebula, or NGC 2024, is an emission nebula about 1,400 light years from Earth, lit up by Alnitak. These nebulae, along with Barnard’s Loop and Messier 42, are part of the Orion Molecular Cloud, located about 1,500 light-years away in the constellation Orion.
To produce this image, Lesser used a ZWO ASI2600MC Pro camera and a William Optics GT102 telescope (with a focal length of 563mm). He gathered 31.4 hours of exposures from Calgary, Alberta, around January 22, 2021.
Our honourable mention this week goes to another Albertan — Don Hladiuk, for his image of a solar halo with sundogs seen south of Calgary. Sundogs form, usually in pairs, when sunlight refracts through ice crystals.
“We have had some bitterly cold (polar vortex) weather here on the Prairies,” Hladiuk said. “On Valentine’s Day we were blessed with a beautiful solar halo with sundogs.”
He said he took the image on February 14, 2021, using a Canon 6D at f/9. The shutter was open for 1/250-second, with ISO 100 and a focal length of 25mm.
Prizes for the 2020-21 SkyNews Photo of the Week contest are sponsored by Sky-Watcher, Celestron, iOptron and The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Click here for more details on the prize packages that will be awarded to the best photos this year.