Canon XSi, modded, Total RGB 130 min. = 26x5 min, ISO 1600
Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM Telephoto Lens, EQ6 mount, guided w/PHD and EQMOD
Before turning to describe the Witch Head Nebula, I want to dedicate this image to the astrophotographer who's work has inspired me the most since I have stepped back into this hobby: Brian Peterson. Brian's images contain all that is so wonderful about this hobby: sheer beauty, color, and inspiration. I can stare at some of his images again and again, my eyes hopping from one star to another, from one area or a nebula or galaxy to another, and their richness and color keep on holding new surprises to welcome my every visit.
My interpretation to the heavenly views is different than Brian's (though not very much) but regardless, his inspiring work has been with me every inch of the way. Thanks Brian.
The text below is taken from under Brian's beautiful close up image of the Witch (at http://www.pbase.com/bkpeterson/image/91317664)
The Witch Head Nebula is reflection nebula located 700-1000 light years away in the long, dim constellation Eridanus. An easier way to locate it in the sky is to find Rigel, the bright, blue supergiant star that marks Orion's western foot. The Witch Head is just in front of that foot. Rigel, in fact, provides the reflected light that shines from the Witch Head, even though Rigel is some 100 light years from this cloud of gas and carbon dust. The dust reflects the blue wavelengths of light more than the red ones, and so this nebula is blue not so much because Rigel is, but because of how dust refelcts (the same dynamic makes the daytime sky on Earth blue). Rigel is located about one photo-height below this image.
The Witch Head nebula is longer than 5 full moons lined up in the sky, but is far too dim for human eyes to see. The radiation from very energetic stars in the Orion region is eroding and sculpting the edge of the nebula so that it actually looks like its name; in this image, the witch is facing down, toward Rigel, with her chin at the bottom left. There are also hints of red in the cloud, which is the result of stellar radiation exciting hydrogen atoms in the nebula.