sponsored by psychohistorian.org


Deep Sky Observer's Companion – the online database


Welcome, guest!

If you've already registered, please log in,

or register an observer profile for added functionality.


log in to manage your observing lists























Full database:

Entire DOCdb database of 18,816 objects.



Barnard 33 (3,864 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




finder chart

altitude today

altitude (year)


½°, , in DOCdb

show browsing

Horsehead Nebula

Barnard 33, Horsehead Nebula, LDN 1630 (contains McNeil's Nebula)

RA: 05h 40m 59s
Dec: −02° 27′ 30″

Con: Orion
Ch: MSA:253, U2:226, SA:11


(reference key)

Type: dark nebula

Mag: –

Size: 4′
PA: ?

Image gallery

Photos  (3)

Select a photo and click the button to view

Published comments

Barnard (1913)

Dark regions in the sky suggesting an obscuration of light. Astrophys.J., 38, 496-501.


p500 + Plate XX, FIg 1.

Duncan, J. C. (1921)

Duncan, J. C. (1921) Bright and dark nebulae near zeta Orionis photographed with the 100-inch Hooker telescope. Astrophys. J., 53, 392-396.

E.E. Barnard (1927) - ADC catalogue VII/220A

Note (supplied by Bill Gray, Project Pluto): Dark mass, on nebulous strip extending S from Zeta Orionis (see Astrophysical Journal, 38, 500, (1913ApJ....38..496B), and Plate XX)

Malin, D. (1987)

Malin, D. (1987) In the shadow of the Horsehead. Sky & Telescope, Sep, 253.

SAC database

The SAC 4.0 database comments: "Horsehead nebula, part of large dark following cloud"

Photo index

See Sky & Telescope, January 1970, p60.

Photo index by Jim Lucyk: Sky & Tel.2/69 p121, Sky & Tel. 2/80 (cover), 4/81 p287, Sky & Tel. 5/81 p463, Sky & Tel. 6/75 p404, Sky & Tel. 6/75 p404, Sky & Tel. 6/77 p487, Sky & Tel. 11/81 p416, Astronomy mag. 3/82 p16, 17, Astronomy mag. 3/87 p113, Burnhams V2 p1329

Modern observations

Walter Scott Houston

Walter Scott Houston calls this dark nebula "one of the most photographed but least observed objects" and says that it is "incredibly challenging" for visual observers. The celebrated comet-hunter Leslie Peltier saw it repeatedly with his 6" comet-seeker. The Horsehead is a dark cloud that is silhouetted against a bright strip of nebulosity known as IC 434. The latter nebula extends southwards from the 2nd magnitude Zeta Orionis, and scattered light from this star foils many attempts to find the Horsehead because of their proximity (about half a degree.) Houston believes that another reason observers fail to find it, is their misconception regarding its size: it is only some 5 arc seconds across, and much smaller than expected, if one is used to its appearance on large-scale photographs made with professional telescopes.

Steve Coe

Steve Coe (Glendale, Arizona, USA) observing with a 17.5-inch f/4.5, writes in the The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 10, July 1992: "This much photographed region includes the Horsehead Nebula (B.33) IC 434 is a faint streamer of emission nebulosity to the south of Zeta Ori. I have seen the Horsehead in the 17.5-inch f/4.5 at x125; with averted vision some light and dark detail could be seen but it was tough. The Horsehead outline is small, maybe the size of the Ring Nebula."

Le Forbes

Le Forbes (Stoke, St. Mary Bourne, Hampshire) observing from Puimichel, France, writes in the The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 11, January 1993: "Edge of nebulosity (IC 434) cuts the field vertically in half. The Horsehead itself (B.33) fills one-sixth of the field on the right-hand side and is visible only after tapping the tube, and then becomes clear. Shape of the dark nebula sharp and detailed, the bright nebula fainter and not sharp beyond the dark region. (42-inch, x185/x310)"

Darren Bushnall

Darren Bushnall (Hartlepool, Cleveland) observing with a 8.5-inch f/6, writes in the The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 11, January 1993: "IC 434 was visible as a moderately bright haze using an H-beta filter; about 35' in length. B.33 visible as a small, irregular patch jutting in the side of IC 434."

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "Midway and E of a line connecting Sigma ORI and Zeta ORI; N-filter, clear, steady skies, Orion near culmination, minimum 8-in. aperture, wide field (>1 degree), 50-100x, good dark adaptation, sense of scale, ALL are necessary elements in order to view this celestial beast; it shows as a gap in reddish I.434; see photos at VADSS-66."


From: jlarkin@routh.list.ufl.edu (joe larkin)

Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur

Subject: Re: Horsehead Nebula

Date: 1 Sep 1996 02:23:27 GMT

teal@netcom.com wrote:

: Should I be able to see the Horsehead nebula (B33) with an 8" SCT at

: 77x? If so, what should it look like? Thx.


It is possible that you could see it, but if you have to ask, unlikely.

However, the horsehead is not a tremendously difficult object if certain

conditions can be met.

1) Observe under very good to excellent skies

Any haze or light pollution will make the HH _very_ difficult, if not impossible in even much larger scopes than an 8".

2) Use a H-Beta filter (OIII and UHC help too, but not as much)

I once saw the HH with my 10" without a filter. With a filter it is _much_ easier and I have seen it fairly often (when under very good skies).

3) Know what you are looking for

The HH is a small "bay" in a faint nebulousity. If you don't know what it should look like, it is very hard to spot. I suggest (if possible) having a more experienced observer with you.

4) Know exactly where to look

A photograph of the area helps quite a bit. There is a black and white photo in Burnham's Celestial Handbook that will help with this (and the previous step). I don't have Burnham's with me so I can't give a page number. The picture is of a fairly wide field and looks very grainy. There is a better pictureof the HH in Burnham's, but it looks _absolutely nothing_ like what the HH looks like visually.

I used to think the HH was a very difficult object. However, under very good conditions it is not too hard to see. Experience with this objects helps a lot. Don't expect to be too impressed. The HH is a fine photographic object, but only a "challenge object" visually.

You will probably fail to see it quite a few time before you see it, especially if you haven't seen it before. For good "practice" you should track down several other nebula in Orion (besides M42!) to get a feel for what they can look like.

Joe Larkin

From: "David W. Knisely" [dk84538@navix.net]

Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur

Subject: Re: Horsehead Nebula

Date: Sun, 01 Sep 1996 04:50:43 -0700

teal@netcom.com wrote:


] Should I be able to see the Horsehead nebula (B33) with an 8" SCT at

] 77x? If so, what should it look like? Thx.

Hi there, Probably not (unless maybe you use Lumicon's H-beta filter).

I have seen the Horsehead with an 8" Newtonian on a superb night, but it

really had to be dark. Any hint of skyglow, and the Horsehead vanishes.

Even when visible in the 8", it just appeared as a small dark inclusion

into a weak band of light extending southward from Zeta Orionis. It

isn't easy, but it is barely possible.

David W. Knisely KA0CZC email: dk84538@ltec.net

1616 North 14th St., Beatrice, Nebr. 68310

Prairie Astronomy Club, Inc. http://www.infoanalytic.com/pac/

BABYLON 5: Our last best hope for QUALITY science fiction.

From: kflor@rainbow.rmii.com (Ken Florentino)

Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur

Subject: Re: Horsehead Nebula

Date: 1 Sep 1996 15:04:03 GMT

What can be done with experience and good conditions: My friend and I saw the horsehead in his 5 inch Astrophysics EDT one night of the best transparency I've seen in my 12 years of observing. No filter. Don't expect to do this with an "ordinary" 5 inch.

On the other hand, I didn't see the horsehead for the first 5 years I observed with a 13 inch and I was using a picture and knew exactly where it was! Once I saw it, I was able to see it easier and now I can see it most of the time in my scope. Part of it is conditions, part of it is educating the eyes/mind what to see.

As one of the previous posters mentioned, if you can, have someone experienced with it point it out. 70% of the people who I show it to can see it.

It seems sensitive to the "right" magnification. Play around in the lower powers if you have the eyepieces.

For an 8 inch, I'd agree with Dave, it will require you have good eyesight (bilberry?), a great night and that you know exactly what to expect. Otherwise, it may not happen.


Ken Florentino klor@rmi.net

From: mark_d_davis@usa.pipeline.com(Mark Davis)

Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur

Subject: Re: Horsehead Nebula

Date: 1 Sep 1996 21:19:25 GMT

On Sep 01, 1996 00:20:18 in article [Horsehead Nebula], 'teal@netcom.com'


] Should I be able to see the Horsehead nebula (B33) with an 8" SCT at

] 77x? If so, what should it look like? Thx.


Heck, an ad in the latest Damark catalog says you can see it in the Tasco 4.5" reflector... it should be a snap for an 8" telescope :-). Makes me wonder what I'm doing wrong with my C-11 & 13.1" DOB (other than never having tried to see it, yet).

Seriously, though, with an 8" SCT you'd need superb conditions, and have to know exactly what you're looking for (and where). It's not going to look like the pictures.

Mark Davis


From: freeman@netcom.com (Jay Reynolds Freeman)

Subject: Re: Horsehead Nebula

Date: Mon, 2 Sep 1996 04:50:00 GMT

Sender: freeman@netcom22.netcom.com

] Heck, an ad in the latest Damark catalog says you can see it in the Tasco

] 4.5" reflector... it should be a snap for an 8" telescope :-). Makes me

] wonder what I'm doing wrong with my C-11 & 13.1" DOB (other than never

] having tried to see it, yet).

That is the classic error with many objects other than the

Horsehead; "no look, no see" is one of the few generally applicable

rules of thumb for amateur astronomers. :-)

I've logged the Horsehead about fifteen times, usually without a filter, always from good sites. The smallest aperture with which I have seen it is four inches (a Celestron/Vixen refractor -- 102 mm, f/9.8, conventional doublet), at 40x. I have suspected it in an 11x80 binocular. My best view was in a 6-inch hand-held Newtonian at 36x. All these observations were without filters. I see no reason why a Tasco 4.5-inch should not show it.

The problem for me seems to be more one of getting Zeta Orionis out of the field. A kludged-up occulting bar helps a lot. I made mine by rolling a piece of paper to fit inside an eyepiece barrel, gluing a matchstick chordwise across it, and blackening the whole with ink.


Jay Reynolds Freeman -- freeman@netcom.com -- I speak only for myself.

From: jlarkin@routh.list.ufl.edu (joe larkin)

Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur

Subject: Re: Horsehead Nebula

Date: 2 Sep 1996 22:58:53 GMT

Twisted STISter (pcp2g@karma.astro.Virginia.EDU) wrote:


: I have *never* heard of any reliable cases of seeing it through a

: small 'scope; I think the smallest was an 18". Ouch.



Read the posts in this thread. Plenty of people have seen the HH

in scopes much smaller than 18". I've seen it in my 10" even

without a filter (once). With a filter is isn't all that difficult

under excellent conditions.

BTW - didn't Barhnard discover it visually with a 5" scope?

Joe Larkin

From: Steve.Pattie@dsto.defence.gov.au (Steve Pattie)

Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur

Subject: Re: Horsehead Nebula

Date: Sun, 1 Sep 1996 22:40:02 GMT

] From: teal@netcom.com

] Subject: Horsehead Nebula

] Date: Sun, 1 Sep 1996 00:20:18 GMT

] Should I be able to see the Horsehead nebula (B33) with an 8" SCT at

] 77x? If so, what should it look like? Thx.

Yes and No. The object you refer to is quite a low contrast

object and it depends on sky conditions to really see it.

I've seen it under a dark sky with a 6" scope but on other

nights it is difficult in my 17.5".

A H-Beta filter will definitely help in locating it and a

photograph of the area (B&W) would be an advantage. Try using

averted vision coupled with moving the telescope as the eye is most

sensitive to movement in low light conditions.

Finally the most important factor is experience. I've picked

out objects which fellow observer's fail to see. Its a learning curve

which hopefully you will take on and sometime you will, without doubt

see the Horsehead Nebula.

Steve Pattie

Astronomical Society of Victoria (Australia)

From: jlarkin@routh.list.ufl.edu (joe larkin)

Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur

Subject: Re: Horsehead Nebula

Date: 2 Sep 1996 00:37:29 GMT

joe larkin (jlarkin@routh.list.ufl.edu) wrote:

: teal@netcom.com wrote:

: : Should I be able to see the Horsehead nebula (B33) with an 8" SCT at

: : 77x? If so, what should it look like? Thx.

: :


: However, the horsehead is not a tremendously difficult object if certain

: conditions can be met.


: 2) Use a H-Beta filter (OIII and UHC help too, but not as much)


OIII is not the best filter for this object. I seem to recall it did

help, but I have nothing on it in my notes. A UHC definately helps,

and the H-Beta is sometimes called the "Horsehead Filter" since it is

perfect for the HH.

Joe Larkin

From: spooner[spooner@page.az.net]

Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur

Subject: Re: Horsehead Nebula

Date: Sun, 01 Sep 1996 21:08:09 -0700

teal@netcom.com wrote:


] Should I be able to see the Horsehead nebula (B33) with an 8" SCT at

] 77x? If so, what should it look like? Thx.

I saw the Horsehead a doxen or more years ago at Anderson Mesa south

of Flagstaff, Az. when it was still one of the darkest sites in North

America. It was easily visible in a C-8 and a 7.5" f/5 Newtonian at

40 power or so. Last year I searched in vain with a 17" and not so dark

skies. A friend suggested I had been using too much magnification (183x)

so this year I'll drop down a lot and try. Others have written that it

depends much on transparency and I would think that may be the

overriding factor. I haven't tried an Hb filter but an OIII didn't help

last year.


Jeff Medkeff (IAAC)

Observer: Jeff Medkeff

Your skill: expert

Date and UT of observation: 1998-Dec-31, 06:40 UT

Location & latitude: Sierra Vista, Arizona, 31N

Site classification: rural

Limiting magnitude (visual): 6.8 at 10 deg from zenith

Seeing (1 to 5 - best to worst): 2

Moon up (phase?): no

Instrument: 4.5" f/7 Newtonian

Magnification: 60x

Filters used: none

Object: IC 434 and Barnard 33 (Horsehead Nebula)

Category: bright and dark nebulosity

Constellation: Orion

Object data: ca. 39' MA IC 434; ca. 5 min. B 33

RA/DE: 5h 41m 0s -2d 23m 59s


I took careful notes at the observing site. I can think of nothing better

than to reproduce them verbatim here:


"Bright" nebulosity could be discerned cutting the 60x FOV approximately in

half along a line of stars [GSC-4771-1154, PPM 176000] extending from 50

Orionis and terminating several minutes past an aries-shaped telescopic

asterism [PPM 188350, GSC-4771-1034, GSC-4771-1047] which was superimposed

on the nebulosity. The edge of this nebulosity was pretty clearly visible

on the F side but was not readily detectable on the P side, as it tended to

fade into the sky background gradually rather than presenting a contrasty

edge. Using a black shroud, I could detect an indentation in the F side of

this nebulosity, but only during moments of good seeing (?) and good

relaxation. The indentation required averted vision. It was only observed

confidently and for longer periods after patching the observing eye for 20

minutes [i.e., keeping it in darkness for 20 minutes]. The horsehead was,

however, quite clearly seen after so doing, as a rounded 'bite' taken out

of the bright nebulosity. Subsequent comparisons of the memorized field to

photographic charts at the observing site showed the observed indentation

was consistent with the actual position of the dark nebulosity.


Shortly after taking these notes, I looked at the object with a 10" f/5

Newtonian, and found the horsehead to be a rather easily seen object that

posed no particular challenge. That observation wrt position and

orientation was consistent with the observation using the 4.5". This is,

incidentally, both my first posting to this list, and also my first

observation of the horsehead nebula. IMO the use of Ha filters on this

object in skies like I experienced should possibly be considered cheating. :-)


Jeff Medkeff | If a little knowledge is a dangerous

Rockland Observatory | thing, where is the man who has so much

Sierra Vista, Arizona | as to be out of danger? (T. H. Huxley)

On the web at http://shutter.vet.ohio-state.edu/

[amastro] Faint Object visibility

I have located the horsehead nebulae with my old trusty 10" f5 (Hector(Thats why the 20" is Hector JNR)).

I was observing from the ASNSWI dark sky site about 250 km north west of Sydney Australia.

Orion was overhead and my notes advise that the evening had an 8/10 trans and a 7/10 for seeing.

The horsehead was just visible without any filter. I don't own a H-Beta filter but the UHC can be

employed to the same effect, just not as good. The nebulae IC434 was visible and the horsehead papered

as a bite taken out the nebulae. I know that Bob Evans has also seen the horsehead nebulae through his

10" scope.

Don Pensack wrote:

] Note to all,

] Pushing the limit of any scope is one of my favorite things to do. Who knows what can be seen through any telescope before you look? Saturday, Dec.4 was particularly clear for a short time during the night(at Mt.Pinos, in SoCal at 8350'), and the horsehead was so easily seen with direct vision through the 18"+scopes, that I decided to try for it in my 8" SCT. My 8" has 96% reflective mirrors, and a 99% reflective diagonal, so its throughput is higher than the average SCT, and the transparency was approaching 9/10(I've only seen 2 or 3 actual 10/10s in my life). Star counts had me seeing mag 15.5 in Cepheus(to the west, altitude 65-70 degrees). With an H-Beta filter and a magnification of 92x, IC434 was detectable as a faint line running through the field. That line was not linear, and appeared clumpy and of varying width, probably due to coming in and out of visibility, and possibly due to the thinness of the line where the Horsehead intrudes. The Horsehead was not seen. There was not enough contrast between the nebula and the background to notice a darker intrusion into the nebula. I had just seen the Horsehead through a 20" at the same magnification, so I knew how big it would appear.



I am unhappy to report that the smallest aperture that I have seen B33 with was 25" (at the WSP) and that was with a H-Beta filter.

Dave Mitsky


Brian Skiff evidently remembers my reports better than I do; on February 8-9, 1986, I observed the Horsehead at 40x in my 10.2 cm f/9.8 Vixen refractor (conventional doublet), from Henry Coe State Park in California, not far southeast of Lick Observatory. I did not note any details, but it was not logged as "suspected".

-- Jay Freeman



I saw it a number of times in my old 10" newt both with and without a filter. My observing site is at an elevation of ~9000' in the Rockies and the transparency is typically outstanding.

Steve Dillinger

Woodland Park, CO


I have a wonderful 4.5" mirror that hails from the Springfield, Vermont area in the 1930's sometime. Until a couple months ago, I had this mirror built into what I called the "Ugliest Telescope in the World," which was basically a thrown-together, square tube, all-wood Dob with a bad paint job and toilet flanges for altitude bearings. I am pretty sure Tom Polakis saw the telescope when it was in that incarnation and can back me up on my claims of its ugliness.

Despite the outward appearance of the scope, it was designed throughout to soak up scattered light and generally optimize performance. Shortly after I moved to Arizona, I began using this telescope to observe the Herschel 400 list, and had such great success I started going after things that I thought were far out of reach. Many of them were out of reach, but the Horsehead was not.

By "seeing the horsehead" with a 4.5" scope, I mean that the background nebulosity was visible about 50% of the time, and a notch for the dark nebula representing the head was visible almost the whole time the background nebulosity was visible. Filters? "We don't need no stinking filters."

My location is no secret, but I don't recommend going there. I was in the Montezuma Pass parking lot, between Coronado and Bob Thomspon Peaks in the Huachuca Mountains south of Sierra Vista, Arizona. I haven't used that site since the Border Patrol stopped by to mention that "mules" use the site. It only took me a week to realize that "mules" are not domesticated beasts of burden, but drug smugglers.

If I had the 4.5" up and running, a repeat sighting from Sunglow or the nearby and slightly higher elevation Turkey Bend site should be quite repeatable. But I have the scope apart right now - it needs recoating, and I'm planning to rebuild it into something at least as effective but far less ugly.


Jeff Medkeff

Hereford, Arizona

Have Laptop, Will Travel


I've seen it at Fiddletown in the Sierra Foothills of California through my 12.5 newt without a filter and through a 10 inch and the same 12.5 travel newt on the flanks of Hualaloa Volcano on the big island of Hawaii - elevation 4,000.

Jane Houston


I have definitely the Horsehead in a 10" f/4.5 Meade Starfiner, which has an excellent mirror. I "almost" saw it in a 8" Celestron SCT. IC 434 was certainly visible in the 8", but the Horsehead was questionable. I had a young fellow inform me on s.a.a. that I was inexperienced, because he can see the Horsehead with no HB filter in his 8" easy. Yea, right. He was probably looking at N2024, an object many novices confuse with B33! I observe from Coinjock, NC. Naked eye limit about 6.2-6.4.

Kent Blackwell

Virginia Beach, VA


The nebulosity surrounding the horsehead was easily visible in my 20x80 binoculars - I spotted it several times. However, I could never see the horsehead itself. But now I will try harder...



Jeff, what an awesome accomplishment to see the Horsehead with a 4.5"! Your weren't on anything those "mules" left behind at that observing site when you did this, were you?? Seriously, fantastic work. I'm sure no one has seen the Horsehead with a similar size scope.

Kent Blackwell


Re: Horsehead. I have seen it under good conditions in my old 8 inch f/7 Newtonian, and a guy I know has glimsed it in a six, so it is visible in scopes smaller than 12 inches. Without a filter, I can see it only occasionally in my ten inch. With the H-beta on a decent night, it is almost always at least dimly visible. I use from 59x to 101x on it, and its appearance varies from just a vague darker gap in the faint band of nebulosity south of Zeta Orionis, to a dim but recognizable Horsehead shape with averted vision. I can also pick it up in the UHC filter, but it has more contrast with the H-beta. The base of the nebula (eastern side) has a brighter rim, and as you follow that rim south, you hit a "gap". That is where the Horsehead is. The H-beta makes the brighter edge stand out a bit more than the UHC does. Clear skies to you.


David Knisely KA0CZC@navix.net

Prairie Astronomy Club, Inc. http://www.4w.com/pac

Hyde Memorial Observatory, http://www.blackstarpress.com/arin/hyde



4.1", Winter Star Party.

Tom Lorenzin, Phil Harrington, and someone else I can't remember report seeing it through binoculars which I assume were limited in aperture by the two 2" H-beta filters taped to them.

Clear skies, Sue


Hi Don,

I was able to observe the Horsehead Nebula with my old orange C-8 from Wongan Hills in Western Australia early this year. It required a H-B filter but I was able to make out a darker blob against a lighter background. I also had a dark cloth over my head to block out any stray light. I've tried to see the Horsehead Nebula, using the C-8, many times from Navaho Flats in California without luck. It is an easy object in my 20" Starsplitter so I know just where to look. One thing I noticed in Western Australia was the clarity of the skies compared to my observing site in California, maybe that made the difference.

Kent Wallace


Six-inch Newtonian, no LPR filter, Henry Coe State Park in California on a night good enough to see the equatorial counterglow. That was at 36x, and the view featured a considerable portion of the "neck" of the critter. I have also seen it in a 6-inch Intes Maksutov from Fremont Peak, at magnifications from 40x to 60x (details in my logbook, which is at home, and I am not), on not such fine nights, though not with so much detail, and again with no LPR filter. (My sole narrow-bandish filter is an Orion Ultrablock, and from the usual sites where I do deep-sky work, it doesn't seem to help much with the Horsehead.) I believe I have once logged the Horsehead as "suspected" in a four-inch refractor, but that also is in my logbook, which is at home.

-- Jay (Yippee-ki-yaaay... Yippee-ki-yoooh...) Freeman

PS: And if I brought my logbook in to work, people might catch on that I wasn't working...

PPS: The parenthesized interruption in my name is from a pop song, and is appropriate... :-)

P3S: And I don't always have time to deal with EMail from home, 'cause after all, I have to get my work done somewhere...


I have seen the horsehead in a 10 inch Newt with h-beta filter from our favorite observing spot in Coinjock North Carolina. On the same morning, I was not able to see it in an 8 inch SCT. I have tried often to see the horsehead in the 8 without success. Comparing views, three observers confirmed the 10 inch observation, as well as an easier catch in a 16 inch dob, with filter.

Ted Forte


The two times I've seen the Horesehead was with my 15cm refractor without filters. The two sites were Lowell's Anderson Mesa (2110m, sky brightness V=21.8/square arcsec) and Las Campanas OBservatory in Chile (2300-something meters, V=22.0/square arcsec). Jay Freeman I think can confirm that he's seen it reliably in 10cm I think from the popular spot for Bay Area observers.



My satisfying view of the Horsehead was with a 6-in f/5 located inside my house on a bitterly cold NE night. I was looking through a thermopane glass, and while the image was not the best :>), it was far more enjoyable than enduring the cold.



Last night Ted Forte and I had a stunning view of the Horsehead in my 25" f/5 fittled with an HB filter. A young friend had brought along his 8" f/5 Orion Dob so we decided to give it a try. IC 434 was easy, then suddenly B33 appeared with direct vision. After that I tried to see if we could see it in my Celestron C-6, 6" f/5 Newtonian. Sure enough, IC 434 was once again easy. B33 was more difficult but I saw it quite easily with averted vision. Despite the fact seeing was only 2/10 (stars were real snoballs in the 25") we still managed to see the famous Horsehead with a 6" f/5. I'm convinced it would be within our graps with my 4" f/15 Unitron. Next time maybe I'll load up that wonderful 1950s refractor and head to Coinjock, NC. Thanks to all who gave us the inspiration to even try this difficult object with small apertures.

Kent Blackwell

Virginia Beach, VA


Tom Dietz and I observed the Horsehead from Gatewood Group Camping Area on Spruce Knob in West Virginia. We observed it in 3 instruments with the h-beta filter: 20" F4, 14.5" F4.5, and a 6" F5 Jaegers refractor. Of interest to this thread, the 6" refractor showed the dark notch in the nebula (without AV) with a 20mm Nagler and filter. Transparency was quite good (8) and seeing was average (5-6) and there is no light pollution from this site. We also searched for S147 in Taurus with both the 20" and the 6" but could not see it!


John Nusbaum

Northern Virginia Astronomy Club


A HB filter was used on all instruments, though the Horsehead was visible without it in the 25". Here's the magnifications I used:

25" f/5 - 35mm Panoptic eyepiece = 90x

8" f/6 - 26mm Orion Sirius eyepiece = 46x

6" f/5 - 16mm Brandon eyepiece = 48x

The Brandon beats most any eyepiece in contrast, which helped seeing the Horsehead in such a small aperture as 6". Please note you have to use Vernonscope's filter adaptor to use any nebula filters, since those eyepieces are only threaded for their own color filters. Newtonian owners beware there might not be enough back focus to do so. No nebula filters are avaiable that thread directly into the Brandons.

Kent Blackwell

Contemporary observations

Auke Slotegraaf

2009 January 01

Sutherland (Middelfontein)

8-inch f/6 Dobsonian

Conditions: Clear, dark.

A short distance southward of NGC 2023 lies the dim Horsehead, somewhat more apparent at 96x. Amazing what a proper name does for the status of an object! I can think of any number of fields in Argo that hold more picturesque dark nebulae.

Favourite lists

Lacaille's catalogue

The Messier objects

Dunlop's catalogue

The Bennett objects

The Caldwell list

Named DSOs

Object search

First search phrase


Second search phrase

Type of object to include:

open cluster
globular cluster
planetary nebula
bright nebula
dark nebula
galaxy cluster
asterism & stars

The Bug Report

DOCdb is still in beta-release.

Known issues, feature requests, and updates on bug fixes, are here:

> Bug Report


Found a bug? Have a comment or suggestion to improve DOCdb? Please let us know!

> Contact us


DOCdb is a free online resource that exists to promote deep sky observing.

You could help by sharing your observations, writing an article, digitizing and proof-reading historical material, and more.

> Find out more

Everything on DOCdb.net is © 2004-2010 by Auke Slotegraaf, unless stated otherwise or if you can prove you have divine permission to use it. Before using material published here, please consult the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.5 License. Some material on DOCdb is copyright the individual authors. If in doubt, don't reproduce. And that goes for having children, too. Please note that the recommended browser for DOCdb is Firefox 3.x. You may also get good results with K-Meleon. Good luck if you're using IE. A successful experience with other browsers, including Opera and Safari, may vary.