Horsehead Nebula | José Pedro Gomes Bento


Astropod | May 6th 2023

José Pedro Gomes Bento, an astrophotographer from Portugal, has submitted a stunning monochrome image of the Horsehead Nebula for Astropage’s Astronomy Picture of the Day. The Horsehead Nebula, also known as Barnard 33, is a dark nebula located in the constellation Orion, approximately 1,500 light-years away from Earth. The nebula’s distinctive shape, resembling a horse’s head, is formed by a dense cloud of dust and gas blocking the light emitted by the bright, red emission nebula IC 434. The contrast between the dark, opaque dust of the Horsehead Nebula and the glowing gas of the emission nebula creates a visually striking scene that has made this celestial object a favorite among astrophotographers and astronomy enthusiasts alike.

The Horsehead Nebula | Credit: José Pedro Gomes Bento
The Horsehead Nebula | Credit: José Pedro Gomes Bento

José is dedicated to capturing the beauty of deep-sky objects and sharing his passion for astronomy with others, particularly young people. He actively promotes astronomy by publishing his images and writing about them in a local newspaper called “Jornal Notícias de Arronches.”

Gear and equipment used

  • Telescope: Skywatcher Evostar 72ED + Omegon Field Flattener
  • Guiding: Mini guide scope + ZWO 120MC
  • Mount: Celestron CGEM
  • Camera: Atik 383 L Mono
  • Cooling: – 20 degrees
  • Duo-band Filter: Optolong L-enhance
  • Process: SIRIL + Lightroom


Alentejo, Portugal

Image acquisition details

José captured this image of the Horsehead Nebula using his Atik 383 L Mono camera, cooled to -20 degrees to reduce noise. This was his first time imaging with a cooled camera and the first picture taken with this particular camera. He used a Skywatcher Evostar 72ED telescope along with an Omegon Field Flattener for optimal image quality. To guide the telescope, José employed a mini guide scope and a ZWO 120MC camera.

The image was acquired using an Optolong L-enhance duo-band filter, which helps to bring out the intricate details of the nebula. José took 10 exposures, each lasting 600 seconds, and also captured calibration frames to further improve the image quality.

Image processing techniques

After acquiring the images, José processed them using SIRIL, an astrophotography software designed for processing and stacking astronomical images. He then used Adobe Lightroom, a popular photo-editing program, to enhance the final result.

Significance of the image

This captivating image of the Horsehead Nebula showcases the beauty and intricacy of deep-sky objects, offering a glimpse into the vast and awe-inspiring universe that surrounds us. The image serves as a testament to the perseverance and dedication of amateur astrophotographers like José, who strive to capture and share the wonders of the cosmos. By submitting this image, José aims to inspire others, especially young people, to take an interest in astronomy and explore the wonders of the night sky.

Photographer credits

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