The Witch Head Nebula, IC2118

2-Panel Mosaic, 220 Minutes Total Exposure Time


Larger image at: 684x900 pixels

Reflection nebula in Eridanus

Image field of view: 1.5 x 2 degrees. (North is down)

Do you see the witch's face? Her chin is at lower right, her lips are punctuated with a red star, and her pointed nose is just above center. Rigel, the suspected illuminator of this reflection nebula, is just outside the top-right corner of the image. This nebula is a huge cloud of interstellar dust particles that reflect the light of nearby stars. The particulate scattering of light is more efficient at the shorter (blue) wavelengths of visible light, so the camera records this image in ghostly blue. Wait... did I hear an evil laugh?

This image was selected for the Astronomy Picture Of the Day, Feb. 27, 2001, was Santa Barbara Instrument Group's "Image of the Month for January, 2001" and was published in Sky and Telescope Magazine, May 2001 issue, pages 141 & 143.

The Witchhead image appears on Glinda's Bubble Ancient Voices CD.

This astrophoto is also featured on the cover of The Universe and Multiple Reality by M. R. Franks. Witchhead_BookcoverURM_Thm.jpg

The book is available here at

There is an interesting article written by Chris Beckett for The Newsletter of the Kitchener-Waterloo Center of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada that incorporates my photo of this visually-elusive object. See pages 7-8 of this article.


 Imaging Equipment:

 Exposure Information:

Blue luminance

9 exposures @ 10 minutes


1 exposure @ 10 minutes


1 exposure @ 10 minutes


(9 exposures @ 10 minutes, scaled)

Total exposure time

110 minutes, each of two panes


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