Click here for a higher resolution image of the central portion of this nebula (562 Kb)

Click here for a higher resolution image of the Cone and Fox Fur Nebulae (810 Kb)



The Details
NGC 2264 The Cone Nebula in Monoceros
Astro-Physics 160 EDF refractor at f/5.7
Astro-Physics 1200 GTO
Tru-Balance 6nm Hydrogen Alpha filter
16 March 2009, 17 March 2009
Mount Wilson Observatory - Mount Wilson, California
Ha 18 x 1200 sec 1x1 bin
Maxim DL/CCD, Registar, Photoshop CS4
Field of View: 02°10’ x 01°26’ centered on RA 06h41m30s
DEC +09°47’28” (2000.0) . North angle 85.0 °; east 90° CCW from north

The Cone Nebula is a complex region of hydrogen gas and interstellar dust approximately 2700 light years from Earth that interact to form a very tortured and twisted landscape. The Cone itself (left center) is formed by the interplay of ionized gas and a dust cloud that resemble the silhouette of a hooded Virgin with a halo clutching her child, hence the other common name for this feature, Madonna and Child. The brightest star in the image, 15 Monocerotis (right center), is part of the Christmas Tree Cluster and forms the base of the tree. A grouping of about a dozen bright stars to the left of 15 Monocerotis form the triangular shape of the Christmas tree, with the top of the tree being the bright star just right of the Cone itself. Below 15 Monocerotis is a region known to amateur astronomers as the Fox Fur Nebula. It and the area to the far right center are dust-choked regions giving the appearance of an animal’s fur coat.

In the lower left corner is NGC 2261, also known as Hubble’s Variable Nebula. Discovered by William Herschel in 1783 and studied by the famed Mount Wilson astronomer Edwin Hubble in the early 1900’s, this enigmatic nebula undergoes changes in its brightness and structure over a period of weeks and months, making it a rather unique object for study.




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