In 2013, Hubble celebrated its 23rd birthday with this stunning image of one of the most beautiful dark nebulae in the night sky: the Horsehead Nebula.

The Black Horsehead Nebula is composed of cool gas and dust. The nebula is clearly visible because its silhouette blocks the light from the bright background nebula (IC 434). Since the horse is a noble animal, the nebula has a recognizable mouth and head. The mouth was shaped like this by the radiation of a nearby star.

This famous nebula is 1,500 light-years away from Earth. Nebula is part of it Orion complexIt is one of the most active star forming regions that we can observe from Earth’s surface. Spanning hundreds of light-years across, this region is home to young stars with protoplanetary disks, open star clusters, emission nebulae, reflection nebulae, and numerous UFOs.

Winter: the season for observing the Horsehead Nebula
Since the constellation Orion can be seen well from the Netherlands and Belgium in the coming months, it seems useful to photograph or observe the nebula. But be careful! This is the real challenge. Not only do you need a big telescope, you also need a dark night sky. Fortunately, if you have the right equipment, the Nebula is very easy to find, namely in Orion’s Belt. So aim your telescope at other special objects in Orion, such as the red star Betelgeuse and of course the Orion Nebula. They are much easier to spot.

What is hiding behind the nebula?
Hubble The Horsehead Nebula imaged in infrared light. This allows us to see through the nebula and see the stars hiding in and behind the nebula. Below is an image of the Horsehead Nebula in visible light taken by the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter Schulman Observatory. Then the nebula appears darker and we don’t see background stars.

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Next week we will be visiting another crown jewel for the winter. So we travel one more constellation, that is, towards Taurus. Dare you guess which object is the satellite picture of the week?

Over the past few decades, space telescopes and satellites have taken beautiful pictures of nebulae, galaxies, star nurseries, and planets. Every weekend, we retrieve one or more great space photos from the archives. Enjoy all the pictures? Check them out on this page.