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NGC 2024 (3,875 of 18,816)


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Flame Nebula

NGC 2024, Ced 55p, Bernes 110, Tank Tracks, Orion B, Flame Nebula, V 28, GC 1227

RA: 05h 41m 42s
Dec: −01° 51′ 24″

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


(reference key)

Type: bright nebula (HII region)

Mag: B=?, V=?

Size: ?
PA: ?

Image gallery

Photos  (1)

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Historical observations

William Herschel (c.1784)

Synonyms: H V-028

Discovered in 1786 by William Herschel with an 18.7-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He called it "wonderful black space included in remarkable milky nebulosity, divided in 3 or 4 large patches; cannot take up less than half a degree, but I suppose it to be much more extensive."

Published comments

Pickering, E.C. (1890)

Detection of new nebulae by photography. Annals Harv Coll Obs., 18, 113. Bibcode: [1890AnHar..18..113P]

Photographs taken with the Bache telescope, a photographic 8-inch f/5.5 doublet, covering 10 degrees square, were examined by Mrs M Fleming with a magnifying glass.

Table 1: List of nebulae (p115)

No. 23 "An irregular nebulosity next following zeta Orionis, showing a very marked structure. A greater amount of detail is shown in this nebula than in any of the others of this list except Nos. 10 [NGC 1973/5/7] and 12 [NGC 1976].."

Barnard, E.E. (1903)

Diffused nebulosities in the heavens. ApJ, 17, 77-80. Bibcode: [1903ApJ....17...77B]


Bailey, S.I. (1908)

"nebula; 2 distinct, irregular patches, each 10' x 15' long."

Bailey, S.I. (1908) A catalogue of bright stars and nebulae. Ann.Harv.Coll.Obs., 60(8), 199.

E.E. Barnard (1913)

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


p500 + Plate XX, FIg 1.

Helwan Obs. Bulletin No 21 (1920)

! pF, 20' x 15', irregular nebula with large dark centre surrounded by diffuse nebulosity like cirrus cloud.

Duncan, J.C. (1921)

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

Doig, P. (1925)

Journal BAA, 35, Sep, p316.

On photos brightest parts cover a space 25' in diameter. Duncan says 'the irregularities of the bright and dark markings defy description.' The region about zeta Orionis is one of extraordinary nebulae, dark and bright.

Doig, P. (1925)

Doig, P. (1925) Notes on the nebulae and clusters in Webb's 'Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes' (Sixth edition, Vol.ii). Part III. M.N.R.A.S., 35(9), 316.

Cederblad, S. (1946) [VII/231]

Ced 55p (NGC 2024)

Position (1900): RA 5 36.8, Dec - 1 54

Star: 2 1338 (Mp=1.58, V=1.91, SpT=B0n, B)

Spectrum of nebula: emission spectrum (observed)

Classification: Neb associated with mainly one star (which may be multiple) - Large nebulous region illuminated by a star outside its border (eg. NGC 7000)

Size: 31'x31'

Notes: "Ced 55 p = NGC 2024 = GC 1227 = H V 28. Disc. 1786, WP 166. (30, 87, 88 Pl 20, 114, 174, 215, 216, 235, 238, 263, 289, 294, 296, 366, 409 Pl 13, 416, 418, 550, 558, 578, 620, 630 Pl 34, 631, 715, 793, 802). Ced 55: The Orion region. History and bibliography: (118, 119, 186, 188, 191, 276, 352). The nebulous groundwork and the exterior nebulosities: (20, 21, 26, 53, 58, 78, 142, 143, 186, 191, 206, 207, 278, 279, 281, 282, 289, 305, 312, 438, 480, 519, 540. 541, 593, 594, 595, 620, 625, 628, 630 Pl 34, 663, 675, 715, 726 No 41, 769, 782, 802, 818). R. It is shown on several photographs, e.g. (630) Pl 34, that the whole region of the constellation Orion is filled up by vast masses of nebulosity. As is well known, there are several condensation which seem to stand out from the general background, and which have been separately discovered and studied. Such subnebulae, will be individually discussed below. Taken as a whole, No 55 of the catalogue should be classified as C. 2 in addition to the separate classes of the subnebulae."

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a diffuse nebula.

Bernes, C. (1977)

Bernes, C. (1977) A catalogue of bright nebulosities in opaque dust clouds.

NGC 2024 = Bernes 110

Eisner, J.A. & Carpenter, J.M. (2003)

"NGC 2024 is a young HII region embedded in the L1630 (Orion B) molecular cloud. Distance estimates to the Orion region range from about 360-480 pc, and the distance to the stellar grouping containing NGC 2024 has been estimated to be 415pc..."

"NGC 2024 also contains a cluster of lower mass stars, originally identified by Barnes (1989) ... Lada (1999) computed a stellar density of about 400 stars per cubic parsec ... a large fraction of the NGC 2024 cluster members have at least a small amount of hot associated circumstellar material, presumably distributed in inner circumstellar disks."

"The age of the NGC 2024 cluster has been estimated at about 0.3-0.5 Myr ... the relative youth of NGC 2024 is also supported by the fact that the cluster remains deeply embedded within the molecular cloud, in contrast to both the Orion Nebula cluster and IC 248 where the extinction to the cluster members is substantially less."

Reference: Eisner, J.A. & Carpenter, J.M. (2003) "Distribution of Circumstellar Disk Masses in the Young Cluster NGC 2024". arXiv: astro-ph/0308279v1

Photo index

by Jim Lucyk: Sky&Tel. 9/87 p254.

Modern observations

Forbes, Le (1993)

Le Forbes (Stoke, St. Mary Bourne, Hampshire) observing from Siding Spring, Australia, writes in The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 11, January 1993: "Peculiar looking nebula, roughly circular with a thick, T-shaped dark patch. About 10' x 5'. Nebula may extend further south than in the drawing. (12.5-inch, x76, Seeing A I-II)"

Steve Coe

Steve Coe (Glendale, Arizona, USA) writes in The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 10, July 1992: "A bright, large emission nebula near Zeta Ori. It is easy in any telescope I have ever used under dark skies; my old 20-cm f/6 would show several dark lanes winding across the nebulosity. The 17.5-inch f/4.5 at x200 shows much detail in this region, particularly when a UHC filter is also used. Removing Zeta from the field is also a great help."

Ancient City Astron.Club (1980)

Listed by the Herschel Club, described as "mag estimated 10.5-11.0, diffuse nebula, 30'x30', very large, irregular shape, patchy and bright, same field of view with Zeta Ori, may have to place Zeta out of field before you can make out this nebula. 6-inch, 43x."

Callender, John

Observer: John Callender (e-mail: jbc@west.net, web: http://www.west.net/~jbc/) Instrument: 8-inch Dobsonian reflector Location: Carpinteria, CA, USA Light pollution: light Transparency: good Seeing: poor Time: Sat Mar 1 04:45:00 1997 UT Obs. no.: 82 "The Flame Nebula was easy with averted vision at 48X in the 8-inch, even with Zeta Ori in the field: A large, irregular glow on the E side of the nebula, the dark lane, and a more-difficult glow on the W side."

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "30' diameter; 15' E of Zeta ORI; much easier viewed at higher-x with Zeta out of the field; much detail includes a prominent dark lane."

Ware, Donald J

:"The Flame Nebula. This is a relatively bright nebula which is best seen at low powers. Just northeast of Zeta Ori, this fascinating object is about 15'x10', and is divided by a lane of dark nebulosity which branches through it. While some also call this the Christmas Tree Nebula, I find that it more closely resembles a celestial oak leaf. This object definitely deserves close scrutiny."

Steve Coe

Steve Coe, using a 13" f/5.6, notes: " Bright, large, irregular emmision nebula near Zeta Ori. It is easy in any telescope I have ever used under dark skies and my old 8" f/6 would show several dark lanes winding across this nebulosity. The 17.5 incher brings out much detail in the region at 200X. Using the 13" f/5.6 at 135X with a UHC filter helps the contrast a lot and so does getting Zeta out of the field. Because of the large, parallel dark lanes, Arizona astronomers have taken to calling NGC 2024 the "Tank Track" Nebula."

Gramer, Lew (IAAC)

(IAAC) ngc 2024 (Flame Nebula) Observer: Lew Gramer Your skills: Intermediate Date and UT of Observation: 1997-10-30/21, 05:30 UT Location: Miles Standish State Forest, MA, USA (41N, elev 30m) Site classification: rural Limiting magnitude: 6.5 (zenith), intermittent cirrus and fog Seeing: 7 of 10 - pretty good, but variable down to 4 Moon up: no Instrument: 20" f/5 Tectron truss-tube dob Newtonian reflector Magnification: 70x, 210x, 420x Filters used: None, UHC Object: ngc2024 (Flame Nebula) "The famous spreading Flame, so easily found just a wide eyepiece field ESE of Alnitak (zeta Ori), is a probing test of truly dark skies. From the suburbs, it is hardly to be seen at all even with well trained averted vision. From an extremely dark site however (such as Evans Notch in northern New Hampshire or Long Key, FL), it leaps up to become one of the most fascinating emission nebulae in the sky, fairly showing the wispy multifold shape (and yes even the color) that gives it its name. With memories of this latter view firing my imagination tonight, I swung my dob to face this flame amid the glittering white myriad of Orion's stars. At first glance with a 55' field at 70x, the nebula was nearly obliterated by Alnitak so close by. Clearly, the skies at Miles Standish are not the very darkest on earth, but do offer the best view of this object I have so far seen in Eastern MA. Switching to a 25' field at 210x to edge the star out of view, n2024 suddenly springs up to fill the eyepiece. Particularly striking in this narrowed view is a dark arc in the brightish nebula, sweeping gracefully from SW toward center and then SE again. Just W of this arc is a very bright bar of nebulosity, with 3 mag 9 and 10 stars involved. On a very transparent night from even this site, an hour might be spent tracing the wisps leading off this bright bar. Switching back to 70x with the UHC, and carefully avoiding zeta and nearby multiple sigma Ori, the "Flame" suddenly turns into a "Box" of false-colored haze, empty in the center and "opened" on the N end by a dark nebula. Comparing this view with the one at 210x, the bright bar described above becomes the W edge of the box, while the E edge of the box - so striking with UHC at 70x - had hardly been distinguishable at 210x. Going to yet higher magnification (420x) to increase contrast in spite of the intermittent fog, the S edge of the box was dissolved into indistinct fragments by previously unnoticed bifurcations of the dark arc (noted above). Finally back at medium power with the UHC, the inside of the box began to show mottled and wispy hints of faint nebulosity. Another object worthy of study on those crystalline-clear Wintry nights!"

Clark, R.N. (1990)

See also "Visual Astronomy of the Deep Sky" by Roger N. Clark (1990, Sky Publishing Corporation) page 106.

Contemporary observations

Auke Slotegraaf

2008 December 22

Mount Ceder

8-inch Dobsonian f/5 (EP: 25mm 48x)

Conditions: Clear, dark.

An obvious large bifurcated nebula east of the Belt Star zeta Orionis. As is often the case, I see these types of objects as dark shapes surrounded by bright patches. I'm impressed with how easy NGC 2024 is no real dark adaption yet, the background sky rather bright and contrast not particularly high (the Coal Sack is not punchy, and the Dark Doodad is rather dim).

Richard Ford

2011 January 8th, Saturday


Instrument:12-inch Dobsonian Reflector Telescope.

Eyepieces:26mm Super Wide Field Eyepiece.

20mm Ultra Wide Angle Eyepiece.

Sky Conditions:The fainter parts of the Milky Way are barely


Transparency of the Sky:Haziness only visible on the horizon.

Seeing:Atmosphere stable with little interference.

Limiting Magnitude:4.9.

1.NGC 2024

1.1.Object Type:Nebula.

1.2.First Impression:This object looks like a fuzzy cloud of gas and dust.



1.5.Chart Number:No.29(Extract taken out of "Herschel 400 Observing Guide").

1.6.Size:26mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:57'/3=19'.

20mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:50'/2.5=20'.

19'+ 20'=39'.


Size in Arc Minutes:19.5'.

1.7.Brightness:Magnitude 8.

1.8.Brightness Profile:On the outkirts of this nebula it is

somewhat faint and this nebula grows brighter towards the centre.

1.9.Challenge Rating:Stunning Sight.



This nebula has the shape of a tree.There are areas of

uneven brightness.In overall I have found areas of dark

lanes and patches where faint nebulosity is around the

2nd magnitude star Zeta Orionis.

Tom Bryant

2007-01-17 22:00:00

Observing site: Pinnacles overlook

Telescope: C-8

[5h 41m 54s, -1 51' 0"] A bright, mottled nebula, overpowered by the glare of zeta Orionis, Alnitak.

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