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Distance: ~1,000 Light Years
Size: 5 degrees x 1 degree
Age: Not Known
Telescope: Borg 71FL
Camera: QSI 683
Exposures: L 28×300 Bin 1 RGB 14×150 Bin 2
IC 2118 is a reflection nebula in the constellation Eridanus. It is a dim dust cloud that is illuminated by the star Rigel in the constellation Orion. The entire dust cloud appears to be in the shape of a witch head and thus the nickname the Witch Head Nebula. IC 2118 gets its shape from stellar winds and this is confirmed by the same appearance in both Optical and InfraRed light. The distance is somewhat uncertain but if in the ~400 parsec range the stellar wind is likely from the trapezium region of Orion. If in the ~200 parsec range then the stellar wind is likely from the Orion-Eridanus super bubble.
IC 2118 is also a star forming region. Stars can form from dust clouds by a few different methods. For IC 2118 it is thought that the same stellar wind that has shaped this region is also responsible for providing the motion needed to start the collapse and compression of the dust to form young stars. As of 2013, six YSO’s (young stellar objects) candidates have been discovered using IR cameras on the Spitzer telescope. An additional 9-11 candidates have been discovered by others.
This image was captured at a dark sky site. The conditions were high humidity but no wind. I had to stop imaging at about 1am as the clouds and sprinkles rolled in. Thankfully I heard the raindrops right away (I was sleeping) and disaster was averted.