NGC 2264 - The Christmas Tree Nebula -  12.23.2008
Image Capture Details

Optics:  Meade LX200 14 @ F/2 with HyperStar
Mount: Meade
Camera: QHY8
Filters: LPS
Exposure:  124X 60 Seconds=  2 Hours
Time: 10:00PM - 1:50 AM EST
Location: Waldwick, NJ
© 2008 David A. Trapani
All Rights Reserved
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This fairly wide patch of sky (about three full-moon widths
across) is home to a vast cloud of gas and dust, as well as a
number of bright,  2600 light years from Earth.

Near the center of the image we find a roughly triangular
arrangement of hot, blue newborn stars, the Christmas-Tree
Cluster. The very bright star "S-Monocerotis" is the tree's
"trunk," and the rest of the tree extends downward, lying
upside down.  Just below S-Mon is the richly-textured Fox-Fur
Nebula, an area of hydrogen gas actively sculpted by the
powerful stellar winds and radiation of the nearby stars.

Just off the "top" of the Christmas tree is the often
photographed Cone Nebula. Nascent stars lie buried within the
gas and dust forming the tip of this structure. Eventually their
light and stellar winds will erode the gas and dust, and the new
stars will burst forth and join their cosmic siblings.