Pictures of the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula

Images and facts about the Elephant's Trunk Nebula, a dense pocket of gas and dust in IC 1396.

Elephant's Trunk Nebula by Duan Yusef, Essex, UK.

The Elephant’s Trunk Nebula is over 20 lightyears long and can be found running through IC 1396, a young star cluster embedded within a cloud of glowing, ionised gas in the Cepheus constellation.

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The Elephant’s Trunk is composed of cool interstellar dust and gas, which blocks out light on its way to Earth and leaves behind a long, thin silhouette that gives the nebula its name (and makes it one of many nebulae that look like animals).

Pockets of dust and gas like these make for perfect stellar nurseries and are consequently subject to energetic bouts of star formation deep within.

Conversely, the hot radiation from these newborn stars blasts away the cosmic dust, ultimately destroying the ingredients that led to their formation in the first place.

IC1396 - Elephant Trunk Nebula in Hubble Palette by André van der Hoeven/Daniel Verloop, The Netherlands.
IC1396 – Elephant Trunk Nebula in Hubble Palette by André van der Hoeven/Daniel Verloop, The Netherlands. Equipment: Andre: Skywatcher ED-80, SXV-H9, NEQ-6, Custom Scientific 4,5nm H-alpha filter. Daniel: Takahashi FSQ85, QSI583, Gemini-11, Astrodon filters (5nm Ha,S2,OIII)

The IC 1396 complex is located about 3,000 lightyears away and covers an apparent width of over 10 full Moons in the sky.

Below is a selection of images of the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula captured by BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers and astrophotographers from around the world.

For more information about astrophotography, read our astrophotography guides or our pick of the best astrophotography cameras.

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And don’t forget to send us your images. You can also share them with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Complete Elephants Trunk by Neil Hankey, The Netherlands. Equipment: TOA130F, SBIG ST10XEI.
The Complete Elephants Trunk by Neil Hankey, The Netherlands. Equipment: TOA130F, SBIG ST10XEI.
Elephant's Trunk by Pekka Simell, Vantaa, Finland.
Elephant’s Trunk by Pekka Simell, Vantaa, Finland. Equipment: WO FLT98, WO Field flattener 4, Atik 314L+.
IC1396 by Andy Jensen, Suffolk, UK.
IC1396 by Andy Jensen, Suffolk, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 80mm ED Refractor, Atik383l CCD, 7nm Ha filter, NEQ5 mount.
IC1396 Elephants Trunk by Tom Richardson, Birmingham, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher ED80, Atik 314E mono ccd, Skywatcher ST80, Meade DSI mark 1 CCD.
IC1396 Elephants Trunk by Tom Richardson, Birmingham, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher ED80, Atik 314E mono ccd, Skywatcher ST80, Meade DSI mark 1 CCD.
IC1396 by William McSorley, Leeds, UK. Equipment: SW 150P Reflector on a EQ5 GoTo Mount, QHY8L cooled CCD. Guided with SW ST80 and Philips SPC900 webcam.
IC1396 by William McSorley, Leeds, UK. Equipment: SW 150P Reflector on a EQ5 GoTo Mount, QHY8L cooled CCD. Guided with SW ST80 and Philips SPC900 webcam.
Elephant Trunk Narrowband by Andi Turner, Backyard, Leek, Staffordshire, UK.
Elephant Trunk Narrowband by Andi Turner, Backyard, Leek, Staffordshire, UK. Equipment: Takahashi 85-FSQ telescope, SXV-H9 Mono camera, Ha/SII/OIII filters and HEQ5 mount.
IC1396 Elephants Trunk Nebula by Stephen Wilson, Middlesbrough, UK.
IC1396 Elephants Trunk Nebula by Stephen Wilson, Middlesbrough, UK. Equipment: ED80DS, modded EOS450D, CLS filter, HEQ5Pro.
IC1396 by Andy Jensen, Suffolk, UK.
IC1396 by Andy Jensen, Suffolk, UK. Equipment: NEQ6, Skywatcher 120mm ED, Atik383l
IC1396 Emission Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
IC1396 Emission Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount & Equinox 80mm refractor, Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik Ha RGB filters.
IC1396 - The Elephant's Trunk Nebula by Matt Foyle, Derbyshire, UK.
IC1396 – The Elephant’s Trunk Nebula by Matt Foyle, Derbyshire, UK. Equipment: FSQ106ED, NEQ6 Pro, QHY9M CCD, Baader 2″ filters, Orion Miniguder, QHY5M, ST4 port.
IC 1396 Elephant's Trunk Nebula by Ian Russell, Sutton Courtenay, UK.
IC 1396 Elephant’s Trunk Nebula by Ian Russell, Sutton Courtenay, UK. Equipment: Takahashi FSQ85EDX, Atik 490ex(Ha & OIII), Atik 460ex(SII), CGEM DX,Atik OAG, QHY IMG0H, PHD.
Elephant's Trunk Nebula by Harry Piper, Watford, Herts, UK.
Elephant’s Trunk Nebula by Harry Piper, Watford, Herts, UK. Equipment: Orion Optics Europa 250mm Newtonian with Orion 50mm mini guide scope on HEQ5 mount. Atik 428EX mono CCD camera. Astronomik H alpha filter and QHY RGB filter set.
IC1396 - The Elephant's Trunk Nebula in Cepheus by Bill McSorley, Leeds, UK.
IC1396 – The Elephant’s Trunk Nebula in Cepheus by Bill McSorley, Leeds, UK. Equipment: SW 150P Newtonian on an EQ5 GoTo Mount, QHY8L cooled ccd camera.
IC1396 Elephant's Trunk Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
IC1396 Elephant’s Trunk Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: GSO 8″ Richey-Chretien Optical tube,0.67 focal reducer,Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount,Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik filters.
Elephant Trunk Nebula by David Liaromatis, Grove, UK.
Elephant Trunk Nebula by David Liaromatis, Grove, UK. Equipment: Teleskop Service 65mm astrograph, QHY8 OSC CCD.
IC1396 Elephant's Truck Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
IC1396 Elephant’s Truck Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount & Equinox 80mm refractor, Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik filters.
Elephant's Trunk Nebula (IC 1396) by Trevor Nicholls, Chelmsford, UK.
Elephant’s Trunk Nebula (IC 1396) by Trevor Nicholls, Chelmsford, UK. Equipment: Celestron EdgeHD 8″, iOptron iEQ45, QHY8L, OAG guided with Lodestar X2.
Elephant Trunk by Jaspal Chadha, London, UK.
Elephant Trunk by Jaspal Chadha, London, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Espirt 100ED, QSI 690 CCD, Ioptron CEM60.
Milky Way centred on IC1396 (Elephants Trunk Nebula) by Martin Bailey, Gnosall, Staffordshire, UK.
Milky Way centred on IC1396 (Elephants Trunk Nebula) by Martin Bailey, Gnosall, Staffordshire, UK. Equipment: Modded Canon 600D, Astronomik CLS CCD clip filter, Canon EF 50mm, Celestron Advance VX mount.
The Elephant Trunk Nebula by Jaspal Chadha, London, UK.
The Elephant Trunk Nebula by Jaspal Chadha, London, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Esprit 100ED telescope, Ioptron CEM 60 mount, QSI 690CCD.
IC1396 Elephants Trunk HST by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK.
IC1396 Elephants Trunk HST by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: Televue NP127is refractor, Atik490EX, Losmandy G11, TV Pronto+Lodestar.
IC1396 in Bi-Colour by David Slack, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
IC1396 in Bi-Colour by David Slack, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Equipment: Revelation 66mm doublet refractor, SXV-H9 CCD camera, Altair Astro 0.8 reducer, Baader 1.25″ Ha filter, Astronomik 12nm OIII filter, Skywatcher HEQ5 pro mount, SC3 webcam based finder guider, EQMOD, PHD, Resgistar & Photoshop CS5
Autumnal Elephant's Trunk Nebula by Álvaro Ibáñez Pérez, Daganzo de Arriba, Madrid, Spain.
Autumnal Elephant’s Trunk Nebula by Álvaro Ibáñez Pérez, Daganzo de Arriba, Madrid, Spain. Equipment: TS115 Triplet APO, NEQ6 Pro II, Atik 460ex mono, Guiding with EZG60 and lodestar.
IC1396 (Elephants Trunk) in Hubble Palette by Trevor Nicholls, Chelmsford, UK.
IC1396 (Elephants Trunk) in Hubble Palette by Trevor Nicholls, Chelmsford, UK. Equipment: Takahashi FSQ106, QE reducer, QSI 6120 Camera, Astrodon 5nm NB Filters, Paramount MX mount.
Elephant's Trunk Nebula (IC1396) by Paul Hutchinson, Torquay, UK.
Elephant’s Trunk Nebula (IC1396) 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.
The Cosmic Gateway in Cepheus by Paul C Swift, Valencia, Spain.
The Cosmic Gateway in Cepheus by Paul C Swift, Valencia, Spain. Equipment: Vixen VSD, Starlight Express SXVR-H18, Sky-Watcher NEQ6 Pro, Vixen VSD, SX Loadstar, H-alpha 3.5 Nm, Baader SII 8.5nm, Baader O III 8.5nm.
The Elephant Trunk Nebula by Chris Grimmer, Norwich, UK.
The Elephant Trunk Nebula by Chris Grimmer, Norwich, UK. Equipment: William Optic GT81 Refractor, Starlight Xpress SXVRH694, Astrodon 5nm Ha Filter, Ioptron CEM60, Maxim DL6.
IC1396 - Elephant's Trunk nebula in HaLRGB by Haim Huli, Kibutz Ramat Hakovesh, Israel.
IC1396 – Elephant’s Trunk nebula in HaLRGB by Haim Huli, Kibutz Ramat Hakovesh, Israel. Equipment: QSI 583wsg mono, SkyWatcher P250 F4.8 10″ Newtonian, ASA DDM60, Astordon Ha 3nm, RGB Gen 2, Coma corrector MPCC, Moonlite Focouser for Newtonian.
IC1396A Elephants Trunk Nebula HaRGB by Richard Cardoe, Cambridge, UK.
IC1396A Elephants Trunk Nebula HaRGB by Richard Cardoe, Cambridge, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Evostar 80 DS-PRO, Skywatcher 0.85 FR/FF,Atik 383l+ Mono CCD, Baader 36mm 7nm Ha filter, Canon 1000D (Full Spectrum Mod), Baader 7nm 2″ Ha filter, AA8RC, CCDT67 reducer, Astronomik CLS-CCD filter, HEQ5 PRO, ASI120MM.
Elephant's Trunk Nebula by Peter Jenkins, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, UK.
Elephant’s Trunk Nebula by Peter Jenkins, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, UK. Equipment: Officina Stellare Hiper Apo 115mm refractor, NEQ6 mount, Altair mini-guide scope, QHY5II camera, PHD2, Atik 383L+, Atik EW2 filter wheel, Astrodon HA, OII and SII filters.
IC1396 - Elephant's Trunk Nebula by Simon Todd, Haywards Heath, UK.
IC1396 – Elephant’s Trunk Nebula by Simon Todd, Haywards Heath, UK. Equipment: Sky-Watcher Quattro 8-CF 8″ F4 Newtonian, Celestron Telescopes Telescopes C80ED, Atik Cameras Cameras 383L+ Mono CCD Cooled to -20C, Qhyccd 5L-II, Sky-Watcher EQ8 Pro.
IC1396 - Elephant's Trunk Nebula - Narrowband Hubble Palette by Simon Todd, Haywards Heath, UK.
IC1396 – Elephant’s Trunk Nebula – Narrowband Hubble Palette by Simon Todd, Haywards Heath, UK. Equipment: Sky-Watcher Quattro 8-CF 8″ F4 Newtonian, Celestron Telescopes C80ED, Atik Cameras 383L+ Mono CCD Cooled to -20C, Qhyccd 5L-II, Sky-Watcher EQ8 Pro.
Simon Todd
The Elephant Trunk Nebula by Chris Grimmer, Norwich, UK.
The Elephant Trunk Nebula by Chris Grimmer, Norwich, UK. Equipment: Williams Optic GT81 refractor, Ioptron CEM60 mount, Starlight Xpress SXVR H694 Mono CCD, Astrodon 5nm Ha Filter
IC1396 Elephant's Trunk Nebula in Hydrogen alpha by Jay Bird, Devon, UK.
IC1396 Elephant’s Trunk Nebula in Hydrogen alpha by Jay Bird, Devon, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher ED80 Refractor, QHY163M, NEQ6, 8x50mm finderscope/ ASI120MC, Optolong 7nm h-alpha.
Elephant's Trunk and Garnet Star by Vincent Grosjean, Purley, UK.
Elephant’s Trunk and Garnet Star by Vincent Grosjean, Purley, UK. Equipment: NEQ6 Pro, TS 60ED with 0.79 reducer, ZWO ASI1600MM-Cool, Starlight Xpress USB, Baader 2″ Ha, O3, S2 filters.
IC 1396 Elephant's Trunk nebula in Narrowband SHO by José, La Jonquera, Girona, Spain.
IC 1396 Elephant’s Trunk nebula in Narrowband SHO by José, La Jonquera, Girona, Spain. Equipment: Mak Newton MN190, Orion Atlas EQ-G, Atik 383L+, EZ60, Starlight Xpress Lodestar, Baader H-Alpha 7nn, Baader OIII 8,5nn, Baader SII 8n.
Elephant's Trunk Nebula by Duan Yusef, Essex, UK.
Elephant’s Trunk Nebula by Duan Yusef, Essex, UK. Equipment: Altair 130EDT + 0.79 Reducer, SW EQ8 Mount, ZWO ASI1600MM-C, ZWO Filter Wheel, Badder 36mm NB Filters, Lodestar Guide Cam, Altair 60mm Guide Scope
IC 1396 Elephant Trunk Nebula by Roger Nicholson, Worthing, UK.
IC 1396 Elephant Trunk Nebula by Roger Nicholson, Worthing, UK. Equipment: SkyWatcher 120ED Imaging System, Canon 1000D modified, Skywatcher EQ6-R PRO Synscan, Skywatcher 9×50 Finderscope, QHYCCD 5L-II MONO, Skywatcher 0.85x Focal Reducer/Corrector, Evostar-120ED.
IC 1396 Elephants Trunk Nebula by Stephen Wilson, Middlesbrough, UK.
IC 1396 Elephants Trunk Nebula by Stephen Wilson, Middlesbrough, UK. Equipment: Altair Astro RC 6″, Atik 314l+, Baader Narrowband filters, Pier Mounted HEQ5 Pro.