January 2009 is the start of the Year of Astronomy and the 400th anniversary of Galileo, the first observational astronomer in the sense of one who looked
through a telescope and drew conclusion. But this is also the 90th anniversary of "On the Dark Markings of the Sky" (Astrophysical Journal, Jan 1919, Vol
XLIXX Number 1) by E.E. Barnard, the last of that line of observational astronomers. Those who followed were astrophotographers ( in part because of
Barnard's work)  or astrophysicists.

Barnard is unique as the bridge between observational and photographic astronomy and more unique because of his drive and dedication. There may be
another astronomer with a star, galaxy, lunar crater, Martian crater and asteroid named for him, but no one else has a Loop.

This mosaic covers about 25 degrees (50 times the width of the full moon) from corner to corner and shows the overall structure of the hydrogen gas cloud
in Orion.

The bright star to the right is Rigel. The Witch Head Nebula is looking down on Rigel from above. How often do you see the Witch Head and Flame in one
image?  The belt is the three stars extending upwards from the Flame. The cloud peeping into the upper left corner is the Ha cloud surrounding Lambda
Orionis and extending northwards from there  to vex Ann Wehrle.
Barnard's Loop
3x5 Mosaic in Ha

Click on Image for ~15 Mb JPG