Pictures of the Crab Nebula

Images of Messier 1, the Crab Nebula, facts about this glowing cosmic cloud and the history of its observation by Chinese and European astronomers.

The Crab Nebula is perhaps one of the most famous nebulae known to astronomers. It is Messier 1, the first entry in the Messier Catalogue, and is located about 6,000 lightyears away from Earth.

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The Crab Nebula is the remnant of a stellar explosion known as a supernova, making it an object known as a supernova remnant, and the first recorded observation of the supernova that produced the Crab Nebula comes from Chinese astronomy.

In 1054, astronomers in China noticed a ‘guest star’ that was visible for nearly a month in the daytime sky.

The Crab Nebula itself is 6 lightyears wide and was discovered by astronomer John Bevis in 1731, and was also notably observed and sketched by William Parsons, the Third Earl of Rosse, using the Leviathan telescope at Birr Castle in County Offally, Ireland.

The Crab Nebula contains a spinning neutron star known as a pulsar at its centre, which rotates about 30 times a second, sending out a pulse-like signal as observed from Earth.

This neutron star is found deep within the centre of the cosmic cloud. Electrons spinning at nearly the speed of light around the star’s magnetic field lines are what give the nebula its bright blue light.

Below are some images of the Crab Nebula sent to us by readers and astrophotographers over the years.

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If you’d like to submit your own images, find out our to send us your astrophotos. You can also share them via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Crab Nebula by Tom Richardson, Smethwick, Birmingham, UK.
Crab Nebula by Tom Richardson, Smethwick, Birmingham, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher ED80 DS PRO Refractor, Atik 16ic mono ccd, Baader 7nm Ha filter.
Crab Nebula by Brian S Parker, Acrefair North Wales, UK.
Crab Nebula by Brian S Parker, Acrefair North Wales, UK. Equipment: 200mm skywatcher canon D500 set on a NEQ6pro no guiding 6x1min exposure’s
Crab Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
Crab Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron C11 SCT, Skywatcher NEQ6 Pro Mount, Canon EOS 1100d self-modified and Astronomik CLS CCD clip filter.
The Crab Nebula, Tom Howard, Crawley, Sussex, UK. Equipment: Nikon D7000 DSLR through a Meade 5000 127mm refractor mounted on an EQ6. My image of Messier 1, a supernova remnant in Taurus. For me, long exposure photography complements visual work well by revealing detail that cannot quite be seen at the eyepiece.
The Crab Nebula, Tom Howard, Crawley, Sussex, UK. Equipment: Nikon D7000 DSLR through a Meade 5000 127mm refractor mounted on an EQ6.
Crab Nebula by Graham Holmes, Ipswich, UK.
Crab Nebula by Graham Holmes, Ipswich, UK. Equipment: Helios 200 Newt, Modded Canon 350 D, Single 250 second sub at ISO 800
Crab Nebula by James Bridger, Perth, Western Australia.
Crab Nebula by James Bridger, Perth, Western Australia. Equipment: Skywatcher ED120, NEQ6Pro Mount, SBIG ST8300 Camera With 36Mm Baader Filters.
Crab Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
Crab Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron c11 sct, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount,Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik filters.
Crab Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
Crab Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron C11 Sct, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount,Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik filters.
Crab Nebula by Tom Howard, Crawley, Sussex, UK.
Crab Nebula by Tom Howard, Crawley, Sussex, UK. Equipment: Nikon D7000 DSLR; Meade 5000 127mm refractor; EQ6 mount.
Crab Nebula by Alastair Woodward, Derby, UK.
Crab Nebula by Alastair Woodward, Derby, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 150p Newtonian, HEQ5 mount, Modded Canon 1000d, DSS for stacking and GIMP post processing
Crab Nebula by Gavin James, Marlborough, UK.
Crab Nebula by Gavin James, Marlborough, UK. Equipment: Celestron EdgeHD 800 and QSI 683-WSG.
Crab Nebula by Ian Russell, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, UK.
Crab Nebula by Ian Russell, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron EdgeHD 11 with 0.7 x focal reducer, iOptron CEM60-EC, Atik 460ex, Atik OAG, QHY5l II, PHD2
Crab Nebula by Gavin James, Marlborough, UK.
Crab Nebula by Gavin James, Marlborough, UK. Equipment: Celestron EdgeHD 800 and QSI 683-WSG.
Crab Nebula by Stephen Gill, Trough of Bowland, Lancashire, UK.
Crab Nebula by Stephen Gill, Trough of Bowland, Lancashire, UK. Equipment: Celestron C11, NEQ6 Pro, Modified Canon 600D, QHY5 guide camera
Crab Nebula by Paul Hutchinson, Torquay, UK.
Crab Nebula by Paul Hutchinson, Torquay, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Explorer 200p, Canon 1100D, HEQ5, SkyWatcher 50mm/162mm Finderscope, QHYCCD qhy-5 II, Astronomik CLS Canon EOS Clip
Crab Nebula by Richard Wykes, Brecon Beacons, UK.
Crab Nebula by Richard Wykes, Brecon Beacons, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 250P 10″ Newtonian, NEQ6 Pro mount, Baader MPCC, & modified Canon 1000D.
Crab Nebula by Roger Brooker, Seasalter, Kent, UK.
Crab Nebula by Roger Brooker, Seasalter, Kent, UK. Equipment: William optics, 110mm Triplet @ F5.6, SX694 & Baader filters
Crab Nebula by Roger Brooker, Seasalter, Kent, UK.
Crab Nebula by Roger Brooker, Seasalter, Kent, UK. Equipment: W/O 110 Triplet @f5.6, Sx694, Baader Filters
Crab Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
Crab Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12″ Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount,Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik Sii, Ha, Oiii filters.
Crab Nebula by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA.
Crab Nebula by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M on an Astro-Tech AT12RCT at f/8 2432mm.
Crab Nebula by Amit Sharma, London, UK.
Crab Nebula by Amit Sharma, London, UK. Equipment: Celestron C8 with 0.63x focal reducer, Celestron AVZ, TS Optics 60ED, Starlight xpress SXV H9, QHY5L II, Astronomik Ha Iski Oiii 12nm.
Crab Nebula by Mark Shelton, Marston Green, Solihull, UK.
Crab Nebula by Mark Shelton, Marston Green, Solihull, UK. Equipment: Paramount MX+, Celestron C11 Edge, Atik 460EX camera, Baader 2″ LRGB Filters, Innovation foresight On Axis Guider, Starlight Express Ultrastar Guider.
Crab Nebula by Mark Forbes, Stockport, UK.
Crab Nebula by Mark Forbes, Stockport, UK. Equipment: Altair Astro StarWave 102ED f/7 refractor, Altair Hypercam IMX174 mono, ZWO Mini USB EFW, Altair LRGB Filter Set, SkyWatcher AZ-EQ6 mount, Altair 60mm finder/guider – V1 GPCAM mono guide cam.
Crab Nebula by Martin Weston, St.Albans, Hertfordshire, UK.
Crab Nebula by Martin Weston, St.Albans, Hertfordshire, UK. Equipment: Altair 250tt Truss tube RC, Skywatcher EQ8 Mount, Altair Starwave70 ED guide scope, Starlight xpress loadstar x2 guide camera, QSI 660 monochrome CCD cooled to -20c.