Astrophotograph of the Christmas Tree Cluster NGC 2264

This is my astrophotograph of the Christmas Tree Cluster. Its NGC number in the New General Catalogue is 2264, which actually refers to both the christmas tree-shaped star formation and the Cone Nebula.

The Cone Nebula also gets its name from its shape—it is visible towards the south (on the left). It forms part of the nebulosity surrounding the Christmas Tree Cluster. It is a dark absorption nebula made of cold molecular hydrogen and backlit against glowing red ionised hydrogen.

The Christmas Tree Cluster is a large star-forming complex, consisting of bright young stars obscured by heavy layers of dust clouds. These dust clouds, together with hydrogen and helium, are producing yet more luminous new stars.

All these objects are located about 2600 light-years from Earth. Together, they have an apparent size of 20 arcminutes. For comparison, the moon’s apparent size is about 30 arcminutes.


  • 81× 130-s light frames
  • 107× dark frames
  • 44× flat frames
  • 40× dark flat frames
  • 114× bias frames


  • Explore Scientific ED 102 mm Apo f/7 refractor
  • Sky-Watcher EQ5 PRO SynScan GOTO equatorial mount
  • Altair GPCAM3 290C colour camera (with UVIR window fitted) and 0.5× reducer
  • Altair 60mm guide scope
  • Altair GPCAM2 AR0130 mono guide camera


  • Sharpcap
  • PHD2
  • DeepSkyStacker
  • Photoshop

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