This is the most famous example of a dark nebula, that is, an opaque cloud of dust that obscures a bright nebula behind it. The Horsehead is about a lightyear across, and about 1200 lightyears away. It is backlit by IC 434, a red cloud of energized hydrogen which is illuminated by Alnitak (Zeta Orionis), one of the belt stars of Orion the Hunter.
This object images nicely, but is extremely difficult to see in an eyepiece. The top image is a wide field picture taken with a small telescope (Televue refractor). Please click on the top image to go to webpage for that image. The bottom, high resolution, image was taken using our RC telescope(s). Click on it to see a higher-resolution image.
|L R G B color production was used to create this image.||
Minimum credit (top image) line: Adam Block/NOAO/ AURA/NSF
Minimum credit (bottom image) line: Tracey and Russ Birch/Flynn Haase/NOAO/ AURA/NSF
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