There is certainly something magical about the Universe and its workings: how new stars are born from gas and dust; how planets form around those stars from leftover cosmic material; how galaxies clump together to form massive clusters; how 95% of the Universe is made up of the mysterious dark matter and dark energy.
Perhaps it’s only right that there should be a Wizard Nebula: a reminder of the majesty of the cosmos and the mysteries that still lie just beyond our grasp
Of course, the Wizard Nebula is simply a shape in a cosmic cloud surrounding open star cluster NGC 7380. Over the years it has earned its sorcerous nickname because of its similarity in appearance to a magician in a pointed hat,
The Wizard Nebula is located 7,000 lightyears from Earth in our Milky Way galaxy and is found in the constellation Cepheus.
Star cluster NGC 7380 is embedded deep within the nebula, having only formed within the last 5 million years (the blink of an eye, in cosmic terms).
This is an active star-forming region, and the stars in NGC 7380 unleash powerful streams of charged particles known as stellar winds that have sculpted the nebula into the wizard shape we see today.
Below is a gallery of pictures of the Wizard Nebula captured by astrophotographers and BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers.