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Astr110 Photography Projects, Spring 2010

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Witch Head Nebula, Charis Medendorp

Witch Head Nebula

The Witch Head Nebula, a reflective nebula, is found near Rigel in the constellation Orion. Its informal name is derived from its unique shape, which is similar to that of a witch's face, complete with a large hooked nose, extensive chin, and wispy flyaway's. Like a smoky vision, the Witch Head Nebula is approximately 900 light years away, a safe enough distance for the easily spooked. The whole nebula is generally depicted in blue hues due to Rigel's own blue light and the fact that the dust particles that comprise the nebula reflect blue light more efficiently than any other color.

In the photo above we find the very edge of the witch's head, possibly the outer wisps of hair before she vanishes into the surrounding space. Unlike the usual blue this nebula is usually photographed in, this photo has been enhanced with red tones in order to best bring out the shape and consistency of this section of the nebula; the red filter allowed for the best definition of the nebula. Though the nebula itself is much larger, this small portion still reveals the dust particles' reflective quality. The section of the nebula in this particular photo has an angular size of approximately 16 and a linear size of 4 light years measured from the right edge of the photograph to near the streak on the left side of the photograph. This streak is caused by a passing satellite of sorts, unidentifiable, but benign in regards to the photo's clarity.

References:
Bonnell, Jerry and Robert Nemiroff. "Blue Witch." Astronomy Picture of the Day, APOD NASA. <http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap010227.html>.

Smith, Yvette. "Witch Head Nebula." NASA Image of the Day Gallery. <http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1209.html>

Right Ascension (J2000) 05:07:25
Declination (J2000) -07:12:19
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 300 seconds in BVR and C
Date observed

March 12, 2010

Time observed 20:20:46 (8:20:46 PM)