What is a nebula?

Majestic and mysterious, nebulae are some of the most beautiful deep-sky objects to be found in the night’s sky. But what are these space clouds? And how are they created?

The Orion Nebula
Frank Summers, Massimo Robberto
Published: October 10, 2019 at 12:24 pm
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A nebulae is a cloud of dust and gas that float in space. They can measure lightyears across in size but are very diffuse – a cloud the size of Earth would still only weigh a few kilograms.

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As they are clouds, blown about by the interstellar winds of our Galaxy as well as their own turbulence, they often have weird and wonderful shapes.

Nebulae can vary hugely depending on how they were created, but many of the clouds are strongly related to the lifecycles of stars.

Some are crated when a star dies, others allow them to be born.

One nebula, a type known as a planetary nebula, is called the Boomerang Nebula and is the coldest place in the Universe.

What are the different kinds of nebulae?

There are many different kinds of nebula which fall into four main categories:

Within these categories there are emission nebula, which are illuminated by the glowing hot gas they contain, and reflection nebulae, which reflect the light of nearby stars.

Do stars form in nebulae?

Not all nebulae form stars, but all stars (that we know of) started life in clouds of dust known as star-forming regions.

The interstellar medium is the name given to the gas and dust that fills the spaces between stars.

Over hundreds of millions of years this medium begins to clump together to form a cloud, a nebula.

If the gas in the clouds becomes dense enough, it starts to collapse under its own weight, increasing the density even further.

In the resulting turbulence, knots of gas form, their gravity attracting even more gas so they ever larger until they become dense enough to form a star.

The Pillars of Creation
Buried in the Eagle Nebula is a region of intense star formation. Hubble took an image of the region back in 1995, and their column shaped form earned the region the name "The Pillars of Creation". NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Do nebulae look different in real life compared to pictures?

The popular idea of what a nebula looks like is often based on the spectacular images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and other world class observatories, which can lead to disappointment when new astronomers see a faint and colourless nebula through the eyepiece.

Nebulae aren’t very bright so look dim to the human eye, but when astrophotographers take an image, they can leave the camera for several minutes to soak up as much light as possible, and use filters to enhance the colour.

While visually observing nebulae might not be as visually arresting as a picture, nothing’s quite the same as knowing you’re seeing it for yourself

What do a nebula’s colours mean?

While most nebulae’s natural colour is faint at best, they do have some colour based on the gases within them.

When you heat a gas, it often emits a spectral line – light with a very precise colour that is specific to the kind of gas being heated.

Narrowband filters

There are many elements that glow within a nebulae, and each of these elements might have several spectral lines. However, some of these are very faint, or aren't at wavelengths visible to the human eye.

While professional telescopes can be configured to pick these up, most amateur astronomers use a handful of filters.

Spectral line

Filter name

Colour of line

Wavelength

Sulphur

SII

Red

672nm

Hydrogen alpha

Ha

Red

656nm

Oxygen

OIII

Green

501nm

Hydrogen beta

Hb

Blue

486nm

 

Hydrogen beta isn't used as much as the other three, however, as it is a weak spectral line.

While it's still very useful for observing a nebula visually, it's relative dimness means its rarely used to create images.

Astronomers use a technique called narrowband imaging, where they use filters to pick out only these spectral lines. They can even use this technique to pick out colours that aren’t visible to the human eye.

Professional astronomers use these images to trace where certain types of gas are within a nebula.

Meanwhile, image processors assigning each spectral band a colour – either red, green or blue, depending on which is closest to the spectral line – then blend the frames together to create full colour images.

Swan nebula
An image of the Swan nebula taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The top four images are taken through specific filters, which are then combined to create the bottom photographs. Using different filters creates a very different view of the nebula. Dean Salman & the ESA/ESO/NASA Photoshop FITS Liberator

How to nebulae get their names?

Like many astronomical objects, most nebulae have multiple names. There are several catalogues that list nebulae along with other deep-sky objects.

The most commonly used are the Messier Catalogue, the NGC (New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars) and the IC (Index Catalogue). Most nebulae appear in at least one of these, if not all three.

Many nebulae also have a popular name, which usually refers to where they are found (The Orion Nebula) or what they look like (The Witch Head Nebula).

The Witch's Head Nebula
The clouds of the Witch's Head Nebula have an uncanny resemblance to a woman's cackling face. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Pictures of nebulae

Below is a selection of images of nebulae captured by BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers and astrophotographers.

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For advice on photographing a nebula, read our guide to deep-sky astrophotography.

IC1454 by Michael O'Brien, Aspull, Wigan, UK. Equipment: 12" f5 Newtonian, AZEQ6 mount, Atik314l+.
IC1454 by Michael O'Brien, Aspull, Wigan, UK. Equipment: 12" f5 Newtonian, AZEQ6 mount, Atik314l+.
NGC 7662 Blue Snowball Nebula by Wayne Stallard, Essex, UK. Equipment: Astro-Physics Mach1 GTO Mount, Celestron 11" EdgeHD, SBIG ST-10XME CCD.
NGC 7662 Blue Snowball Nebula by Wayne Stallard, Essex, UK. Equipment: Astro-Physics Mach1 GTO Mount, Celestron 11" EdgeHD, SBIG ST-10XME CCD.
Nebulosity in Cygnus by Stephen Wilson, N. Yorkshire, UK. Equipment: ED80 imaging scope/ST102 guide scope, Atik 314l+ imaging cam/ QHY5 guide cam, HEQ5 Pro mount controlled in Carte Du Ciel/ PHD guiding.
Nebulosity in Cygnus by Stephen Wilson, N. Yorkshire, UK. Equipment: ED80 imaging scope/ST102 guide scope, Atik 314l+ imaging cam/ QHY5 guide cam, HEQ5 Pro mount controlled in Carte Du Ciel/ PHD guiding.
Panorama of Monoceros in Narrowband by Paul C Swift, Valencia, Spain. Equipment: Vixen VSD, Starlight Express SXVR-H18, Sky-Watcher NEQ6 Pro, Paramount MX, Vixen VSD, Baader H-alpha 3.5 Nm, OIII & SII, Starlight Xpress Lodestar Guider
Panorama of Monoceros in Narrowband by Paul C Swift, Valencia, Spain. Equipment: Vixen VSD, Starlight Express SXVR-H18, Sky-Watcher NEQ6 Pro, Paramount MX, Vixen VSD, Baader H-alpha 3.5 Nm, OIII & SII, Starlight Xpress Lodestar Guider
CTB1 Supernova Remnant in HST Palette by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: Televue NP127is, Atik490EX, 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II, Astrodon 3nM (Ha, SII, OIII)
CTB1 Supernova Remnant in HST Palette by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: Televue NP127is, Atik490EX, 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II, Astrodon 3nM (Ha, SII, OIII)
NGC7008 Fetus Nebula by Martin Bailey, Gnosall, Staffs. UK. Equipment: Canon 1000d, Astronomik CLS Filter, Skywatcher 200 PDS. Celestron CG5 Mount.
NGC7008 Fetus Nebula by Martin Bailey, Gnosall, Staffs. UK. Equipment: Canon 1000d, Astronomik CLS Filter, Skywatcher 200 PDS. Celestron CG5 Mount.
IC 1795 by Alex Wignall, Liverpool, UK. Equipment: 4" William Optics refractor, SBIG 10XME, NEQ6
IC 1795 by Alex Wignall, Liverpool, UK. Equipment: 4" William Optics refractor, SBIG 10XME, NEQ6
IC1795 in HST Palette by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: TV NP127is, Atik 490EX, Losmandy G11, TV Pronto, SX Lodestar guide.
IC1795 in HST Palette by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: TV NP127is, Atik 490EX, Losmandy G11, TV Pronto, SX Lodestar guide.
IC1795 by Georges Chassaigne, Begles, France. Equipment: RC14" PAstrosib, AP1600AE+, Moravian G4 16003, The SkyX, Pixinsight
IC1795 by Georges Chassaigne, Begles, France. Equipment: RC14" PAstrosib, AP1600AE+, Moravian G4 16003, The SkyX, Pixinsight
IC 447 by Gary Opitz, Rochester, New York, USA. Equipment: Telescope Engineering Company 140 mm APO refractor, Canon EOS 60Da Orion 80 mm guidescope, Orion Starshoot guiding camera, Orion Atlas mount.
IC 447 by Gary Opitz, Rochester, New York, USA. Equipment: Telescope Engineering Company 140 mm APO refractor, Canon EOS 60Da Orion 80 mm guidescope, Orion Starshoot guiding camera, Orion Atlas mount.
IC5068 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.
IC5068 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.
IC5068 Emission Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Telescope service 8" Boren simon power newtonian, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik filters.
IC5068 Emission Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Telescope service 8" Boren simon power newtonian, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik filters.
Stained glass in Cygnus by Paul C Swift, Valencia, Spain. Equipment: Vixen VSD 100, Sony ICX814, Software Bisque Paramount MX, Vixen VSD, sx loadstar, Chroma SII 3nm, Chroma OIII 3nm, Chroma Ha 3nm.
Stained glass in Cygnus by Paul C Swift, Valencia, Spain. Equipment: Vixen VSD 100, Sony ICX814, Software Bisque Paramount MX, Vixen VSD, sx loadstar, Chroma SII 3nm, Chroma OIII 3nm, Chroma Ha 3nm.
IC 59 and IC 63 in Cassiopeia by Horst Ziegler, Mondsee, Austria. Equipment: TEC APO 140/980, Flattener, Moravian 8300, Celestron CGE
IC 59 and IC 63 in Cassiopeia by Horst Ziegler, Mondsee, Austria. Equipment: TEC APO 140/980, Flattener, Moravian 8300, Celestron CGE
IC63 (gamma-Cass nebula) by Chris, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: TV NP127is, Atik490EX, 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II U/P, Astrodon 3nM (Ha, SII, OIII).
IC63 (gamma-Cass nebula) by Chris, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: TV NP127is, Atik490EX, 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II U/P, Astrodon 3nM (Ha, SII, OIII).
IC63 Nebula by Jaspal Chadha, London, UK. Equipment: RC250 TT, QSI 690CCD, Astrodon 3nm Ha, Ioprton CEM60
IC63 Nebula by Jaspal Chadha, London, UK. Equipment: RC250 TT, QSI 690CCD, Astrodon 3nm Ha, Ioprton CEM60
LBN 406 - The Laughing Skull Nebula by Bob Franke, Chino Valley, Arizona USA. Equipment: Takahashi FSQ-106ED, Losmandy G11, SBIG STF-8300, Baader LRGB.
LBN 406 - The Laughing Skull Nebula by Bob Franke, Chino Valley, Arizona USA. Equipment: Takahashi FSQ-106ED, Losmandy G11, SBIG STF-8300, Baader LRGB.
Lynd's Bright Nebula 310 in Cygnus by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire UK. Equipment: Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Equinox 80mm refractor, Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel, Astronomik Ha LRGB filter set.
Lynd's Bright Nebula 310 in Cygnus by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire UK. Equipment: Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Equinox 80mm refractor, Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel, Astronomik Ha LRGB filter set.
Little Dumbbell M76 by Martin Bailey, Gnosall, Staffs. UK. Equipment: Canon 1000d, Astronomik CLS Filter, Skywatcher 200 PDS, Celestron CG5 Mount.
Little Dumbbell M76 by Martin Bailey, Gnosall, Staffs. UK. Equipment: Canon 1000d, Astronomik CLS Filter, Skywatcher 200 PDS, Celestron CG5 Mount.
SH2-157 Lobster's Claw Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 8" Boren Simon Power Newtonian, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Atik 383L+, Motorised Filter Wheel, Astronomik filters.
SH2-157 Lobster's Claw Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 8" Boren Simon Power Newtonian, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Atik 383L+, Motorised Filter Wheel, Astronomik filters.
Sh2-157 (Lobster Claw) HST by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: Televue NP127is, Atik490EX, Losmandy G11, TV Pronto, Lodestar
Sh2-157 (Lobster Claw) HST by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: Televue NP127is, Atik490EX, Losmandy G11, TV Pronto, Lodestar
Cephee Nebula by David de Cuevas, Treize Vents, France. Equipment: Astrotech 66/400, EQ6, Canon 450D Astrodon
Cephee Nebula by David de Cuevas, Treize Vents, France. Equipment: Astrotech 66/400, EQ6, Canon 450D Astrodon
Abell 21 Medusa Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron C11 SCT, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel, Astronomik filters.
Abell 21 Medusa Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron C11 SCT, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel, Astronomik filters.
Abell 21 Medusa 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.
Abell 21 Medusa 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.
M43 De Mairan's Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron C11 SCT, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Atik 383L+, Motorised Filter Wheel, Astronomik filters.
M43 De Mairan's Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron C11 SCT, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Atik 383L+, Motorised Filter Wheel, Astronomik filters.
Little Dumbbell Nebula by Jaspal Chadha, London, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Esprit 100ED, QHY9S CCD, Chroma LRGB, Ioptron CEM60
Little Dumbbell Nebula by Jaspal Chadha, London, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Esprit 100ED, QHY9S CCD, Chroma LRGB, Ioptron CEM60
From Mars to Kaus Borealis by Mariusz Szymaszek, Crawley, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Star Adventurer, Pentax K3II, Pentax-M 135mm f3.5
From Mars to Kaus Borealis by Mariusz Szymaszek, Crawley, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Star Adventurer, Pentax K3II, Pentax-M 135mm f3.5
vdB 70 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
vdB 70 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
Corona Australis by Maicon Germiniani, Serra Alta, Santa Catarina, Brasil. Equipment: TS 115/800, ZWO ASI 1600 MONO COOLED, LRGB
Corona Australis by Maicon Germiniani, Serra Alta, Santa Catarina, Brasil. Equipment: TS 115/800, ZWO ASI 1600 MONO COOLED, LRGB
NGC 1514 - A crystal Ball in the Cirrus by Bob Franke, Chino Valley, AZ USA. Equipment: 12.5" RCOS Ritchey-Chrétien, Paramount ME, SBIG STL-11000, AstroDon LRGB + OIII
NGC 1514 - A crystal Ball in the Cirrus by Bob Franke, Chino Valley, AZ USA. Equipment: 12.5" RCOS Ritchey-Chrétien, Paramount ME, SBIG STL-11000, AstroDon LRGB + OIII
Auriga, Wide-Field View by David Slack, Prudhoe, UK. Equipment: Canon EOS 1100D, Starlight-Xpress H9 Mono CCD, Skywatcher HEQ5 pro,Tamoron 55-200 zoom lens, Revelation ED66 refractor, Astronomik CLS filter, Baader 7nm Ha filter & ZWO ASI 120mm based finder guider.
Auriga, Wide-Field View by David Slack, Prudhoe, UK. Equipment: Canon EOS 1100D, Starlight-Xpress H9 Mono CCD, Skywatcher HEQ5 pro,Tamoron 55-200 zoom lens, Revelation ED66 refractor, Astronomik CLS filter, Baader 7nm Ha filter & ZWO ASI 120mm based finder guider.
NGC1579 Northern Trifid Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12" Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount,Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik LRGB filters, Hutech IDAS light pollution filter, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
NGC1579 Northern Trifid Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12" Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount,Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik LRGB filters, Hutech IDAS light pollution filter, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
NGC 2467 (Skull and Crossbones) by Nick De Villiers, Calitzdorp, South Africa. Equipment: Celestron CGEM mount, Atik 460Ex mono, 8" Altair Astro RC, Auto guided PHD.
NGC 2467 (Skull and Crossbones) by Nick De Villiers, Calitzdorp, South Africa. Equipment: Celestron CGEM mount, Atik 460Ex mono, 8" Altair Astro RC, Auto guided PHD.
Sharpless 311 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, UK. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90EDT
Sharpless 311 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, UK. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90EDT
NGC 2736 (Pencil Nebula) by Nick De Villiers, Calitzdorp South Africa. Equipment: Altair Astro 8"RC Astro Physics telecompressor, Celestron Cgem PHD autoguided, Atik 460EX, Astronomic LRG, Ha, O111.
NGC 2736 (Pencil Nebula) by Nick De Villiers, Calitzdorp South Africa. Equipment: Altair Astro 8"RC Astro Physics telecompressor, Celestron Cgem PHD autoguided, Atik 460EX, Astronomic LRG, Ha, O111.
NGC 281 by Dan Crowson, Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90DT
NGC 281 by Dan Crowson, Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90DT
NGC 3579 - The Statue of Liberty Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: Skywatcher 8" F/5, Canon T1i, Astronomik CLS CCD Clip filter
NGC 3579 - The Statue of Liberty Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: Skywatcher 8" F/5, Canon T1i, Astronomik CLS CCD Clip filter
NGC 6559 by Anna Morris, Etoile-Saint-Cyrice, France. Equipment: Orion EON80ED, Atik 314L+, Astronomik L,Ha,R,G,B
NGC 6559 by Anna Morris, Etoile-Saint-Cyrice, France. Equipment: Orion EON80ED, Atik 314L+, Astronomik L,Ha,R,G,B
The Anteater Nebula by Haim Huli, Namibia. Equipment: ASA 12'' Astrograph F3.6, ASA DDM85, FLI 8300 Mono
The Anteater Nebula by Haim Huli, Namibia. Equipment: ASA 12'' Astrograph F3.6, ASA DDM85, FLI 8300 Mono
NGC6820 by Steve Wilson, Middlesbrough, UK. Equipment: ED80 DS Pro/EOS450D, CLS filter, ST102/QHY5, PHD, HEQ5 Pro mount.
NGC6820 by Steve Wilson, Middlesbrough, UK. Equipment: ED80 DS Pro/EOS450D, CLS filter, ST102/QHY5, PHD, HEQ5 Pro mount.
NGC6820/6823 Nebula & Open Cluster by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12" Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount,Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik Sii, Ha, Oiii filters, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
NGC6820/6823 Nebula & Open Cluster by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12" Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount,Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik Sii, Ha, Oiii filters, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
NGC7139 by Michael O'Brien, Aspull, Wigan, UK. Equipment: 12" f5 Newtonian, Atik314l+, AZEQ6 mount, Ha, OIII filters, Ha OIII OIII pallet.
NGC7139 by Michael O'Brien, Aspull, Wigan, UK. Equipment: 12" f5 Newtonian, Atik314l+, AZEQ6 mount, Ha, OIII filters, Ha OIII OIII pallet.
NGC 7293 Helix Nebula by David Trotter, Australia. Equipment: STL6303e CCD, GSO RC8 Telescope, AP900 mount
NGC 7293 Helix Nebula by David Trotter, Australia. Equipment: STL6303e CCD, GSO RC8 Telescope, AP900 mount
NGC7293 Helix Nebula (bi-colour) by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: Televue NP127is refractor, Atik490EX, 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II, Astrodon 3nM H-alpha and OIII
NGC7293 Helix Nebula (bi-colour) by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: Televue NP127is refractor, Atik490EX, 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II, Astrodon 3nM H-alpha and OIII
Sharpless 158 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
Sharpless 158 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
Clouds of Rho Ophiuchi by Maicon Germiniani, Serra Alta, Santa Catarina, Brasil. Equipment: William Optics 80 ED II, ZWO ASI 1600 Mono COOLED
Clouds of Rho Ophiuchi by Maicon Germiniani, Serra Alta, Santa Catarina, Brasil. Equipment: William Optics 80 ED II, ZWO ASI 1600 Mono COOLED
Rho Ophiuchi by Peter Louer, Tenerife. Equipment: Canon 600D, Samyang 85mm lens, SkyWatcher Star Adventurer
Rho Ophiuchi by Peter Louer, Tenerife. Equipment: Canon 600D, Samyang 85mm lens, SkyWatcher Star Adventurer
IC 4628 Prawn Nebula by Tom Bishton, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: Skywatcher ED120 Black Diamond, Orion ST80 Guidescope, AZEQ6 mount, Canon 600D modded, Skywatcher Synguider
IC 4628 Prawn Nebula by Tom Bishton, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: Skywatcher ED120 Black Diamond, Orion ST80 Guidescope, AZEQ6 mount, Canon 600D modded, Skywatcher Synguider
Prawn Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: Canon T1i, Nikon 300mm, CLS CCD Clip filter.
Prawn Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: Canon T1i, Nikon 300mm, CLS CCD Clip filter.
The Prawn Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: SW 8" F/5, ASI1600mm-cool, ZWO EFW, Optolong LRGB filters.
The Prawn Nebula by Rafael Compassi, Presidente Lucena, Brazil. Equipment: SW 8" F/5, ASI1600mm-cool, ZWO EFW, Optolong LRGB filters.
DWB111 Propeller Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire UK. Equipment: Telescope service 8" Boren simon power newtonian, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik filters.
DWB111 Propeller Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire UK. Equipment: Telescope service 8" Boren simon power newtonian, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik filters.
DWB111 Propeller 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, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
DWB111 Propeller 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, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
Seagull Nebula - IC 2177 by Jeffrey Johnson, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: Takahashi FS-60C, Takahashi EM200 Temma II, QSI 540wsg, Astrodon Ha (3nm), Astrodon Tru-Balance I-Series LRGB Gen 2, Guider SX Lodestar
Seagull Nebula - IC 2177 by Jeffrey Johnson, Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: Takahashi FS-60C, Takahashi EM200 Temma II, QSI 540wsg, Astrodon Ha (3nm), Astrodon Tru-Balance I-Series LRGB Gen 2, Guider SX Lodestar
IC 2177 The Seagull Nebula by Mariusz Szymaszek, Crawley, UK. Equipment: ILCE7S JTW modified, Optolong L-PRO MAX Luminosity Filter, Evostar 80ED DS-Pro, field flattener, HEQ5Pro.
IC 2177 The Seagull Nebula by Mariusz Szymaszek, Crawley, UK. Equipment: ILCE7S JTW modified, Optolong L-PRO MAX Luminosity Filter, Evostar 80ED DS-Pro, field flattener, HEQ5Pro.
IC2177 Seagull by Kees Scherer, Portugal. Equipment: Esprit 100 f5.5, QHY16200 CCD, Canon 6D, Ha
IC2177 Seagull by Kees Scherer, Portugal. Equipment: Esprit 100 f5.5, QHY16200 CCD, Canon 6D, Ha
Sharpless 2-1 by David Trotter, Sydney, Australia. Equipment: Astro modded Canon 5D MKii, Takahashi FSQ106n, AP Mach1 Mount
Sharpless 2-1 by David Trotter, Sydney, Australia. Equipment: Astro modded Canon 5D MKii, Takahashi FSQ106n, AP Mach1 Mount
Sh2-112 Emission Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12" Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount, Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik Ha Oiii Sii filters, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
Sh2-112 Emission Nebula by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12" Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount, Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik Ha Oiii Sii filters, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
Sharpless 119 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.
Sharpless 119 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.
A portrait of Sh2-119 the Defuse Emission Nebular in Cygnus by Paul C Swift, Spain. Equipment: Vixen VSD 100, Sony ICX814, Software Bisque Paramount MX, Vixen VSD, Chroma SII 3nm, Chroma OIII 3nm, Chroma Ha 3nm, sx loadstar.
A portrait of Sh2-119 the Defuse Emission Nebular in Cygnus by Paul C Swift, Spain. Equipment: Vixen VSD 100, Sony ICX814, Software Bisque Paramount MX, Vixen VSD, Chroma SII 3nm, Chroma OIII 3nm, Chroma Ha 3nm, sx loadstar.
Sh2-119 - The Fireball XL5 Nebula by Ron Brecher, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Equipment: SBIG STL-11000M camera, Baader Ha, R, G and B filters, 10″ f/6.8 ASA astrograph, Paramount MX, QHY5 guide, 80mm f/6 Stellar-Vue refractor.
Sh2-119 - The Fireball XL5 Nebula by Ron Brecher, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Equipment: SBIG STL-11000M camera, Baader Ha, R, G and B filters, 10″ f/6.8 ASA astrograph, Paramount MX, QHY5 guide, 80mm f/6 Stellar-Vue refractor.
Sh2-119 in HST by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: Televue NP127is, Moravian G4-16000, Chroma 3nM Ha, OIII, SII, 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II
Sh2-119 in HST by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: Televue NP127is, Moravian G4-16000, Chroma 3nM Ha, OIII, SII, 10-Micron GM2000HPS-II
Sharpless 120 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT.
Sharpless 120 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT.
Sh2-126 by Richard Sweeney, Ireland. Equipment: Samyang 135mm, Asi 1600mm, Az Eq6
Sh2-126 by Richard Sweeney, Ireland. Equipment: Samyang 135mm, Asi 1600mm, Az Eq6
SH-129 Flying Bat Nebula by Rob Little, Corbridge, Northumberland, UK. Equipment: NEQ6 Mount, Borg 77 EDII F 4.6, Lodestar Autoguider, Ha, RGB filters.
SH-129 Flying Bat Nebula by Rob Little, Corbridge, Northumberland, UK. Equipment: NEQ6 Mount, Borg 77 EDII F 4.6, Lodestar Autoguider, Ha, RGB filters.
Blue Ghost, Red Acorn by Paul C Swift, Valencia, Spain. Equipment: Vixen VSD 100, 9.2mp Sony SX814, Software Bisque Paramount MX, Vixen VSD 100, Chroma OIII 3nm, Chroma Ha 3nm and Chroma SII 3nm
Blue Ghost, Red Acorn by Paul C Swift, Valencia, Spain. Equipment: Vixen VSD 100, 9.2mp Sony SX814, Software Bisque Paramount MX, Vixen VSD 100, Chroma OIII 3nm, Chroma Ha 3nm and Chroma SII 3nm
Sh2-132 Emission 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, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
Sh2-132 Emission 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, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
Sh2-132 Emission Nebula by Richard Cardoe, Longstanton, Cambridgeshire, UK. Equipment: SW Evostar ED80 DS-PRO, SW 0.85 reducer, HEQ5 PRO Synscan, Rowan Belt Drive mod, Atik 383l+ Mono CCD, Baader 36mm 7nm Ha, 8.5nm OIII and 8nm SII, ZWO ASI120MM, Orion 162mm/F3.2 guidescope with PHD2.
Sh2-132 Emission Nebula by Richard Cardoe, Longstanton, Cambridgeshire, UK. Equipment: SW Evostar ED80 DS-PRO, SW 0.85 reducer, HEQ5 PRO Synscan, Rowan Belt Drive mod, Atik 383l+ Mono CCD, Baader 36mm 7nm Ha, 8.5nm OIII and 8nm SII, ZWO ASI120MM, Orion 162mm/F3.2 guidescope with PHD2.
The Lion by James Robertson, Croydon, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Esprit 80ed, Canon 750d modified, Astronomik Ha clip filter
The Lion by James Robertson, Croydon, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Esprit 80ed, Canon 750d modified, Astronomik Ha clip filter
Sharpless 135 by Dan Crowson, Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90DT
Sharpless 135 by Dan Crowson, Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90DT
Sharpless 154 by Dan Crowson, New Florence, Missouri, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90EDT
Sharpless 154 by Dan Crowson, New Florence, Missouri, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90EDT
Sharpless 191 + 195 + 197 by Dan Crowson, Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, USA. Equipment: ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90DT
Sharpless 191 + 195 + 197 by Dan Crowson, Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, USA. Equipment: ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90DT
Sharpless 223 by Dan Crowson, Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90DT
Sharpless 223 by Dan Crowson, Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90DT
Sh2-228 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
Sh2-228 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
Sharpless 24 by Dan Crowson, New Florence, Missouri, UK. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90EDT
Sharpless 24 by Dan Crowson, New Florence, Missouri, UK. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90EDT
Sh2-240 by Roger Brooker, Seasalter, Kent, UK. Equipment: Ts65q Scope, QSI583 Camera, Baader 7Nm Ha filter, Eq6 pro mount, Ts9mm OAG, Lodestar Guide camera.
Sh2-240 by Roger Brooker, Seasalter, Kent, UK. Equipment: Ts65q Scope, QSI583 Camera, Baader 7Nm Ha filter, Eq6 pro mount, Ts9mm OAG, Lodestar Guide camera.
Sharpless 241 by Dan Crowson, Missouri, UK. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90DT
Sharpless 241 by Dan Crowson, Missouri, UK. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90DT
Sh2-269 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, UK. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
Sh2-269 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, UK. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
Sharpless 302 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90EDT
Sharpless 302 by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90EDT
Sh2-46 is by Ron Brecher, Ontario, Canada. Equipment: SBIG STL-11000M, Baader Ha, R, G and B filters, 10" f/6.8 ASA astrograph, Paramount MX, QHY5 guider, 80mm f/6 Stellar-Vue refractor.
Sh2-46 is by Ron Brecher, Ontario, Canada. Equipment: SBIG STL-11000M, Baader Ha, R, G and B filters, 10" f/6.8 ASA astrograph, Paramount MX, QHY5 guider, 80mm f/6 Stellar-Vue refractor.
Emission Nebula Sh2-72 by Ron Brecher, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Equipment: SBIG STL-11000M, Baader Ha, R, G and B filters, 1" f/6.8 ASA astrograph, Paramount MX, QHY5 guide, 80mm f/6 Stellar-Vue refractor.
Emission Nebula Sh2-72 by Ron Brecher, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Equipment: SBIG STL-11000M, Baader Ha, R, G and B filters, 1" f/6.8 ASA astrograph, Paramount MX, QHY5 guide, 80mm f/6 Stellar-Vue refractor.
Sharpless 87 + 88 by Dan Crowson, New Florence, Missouri, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90EDT
Sharpless 87 + 88 by Dan Crowson, New Florence, Missouri, USA. Equipment: SBIG ST-8300M, Astro-Tech AT90EDT
The Eskimo Nebula by Haim Huli, Ramat HaKovesh, Israel. Equipment: Meade LX850 12", ASA DDM60, QSI583 Mono, Astrodon LRGB Gen II
The Eskimo Nebula by Haim Huli, Ramat HaKovesh, Israel. Equipment: Meade LX850 12", ASA DDM60, QSI583 Mono, Astrodon LRGB Gen II
Jones-Emberson 1 (PK 164+31.1) by Graham Green, Waterlooville, Hampshire, UK. Equipment: Canon EOS 600D, Officina Stellare 130 APO Triplet Refractor, NEQ6 mount
Jones-Emberson 1 (PK 164+31.1) by Graham Green, Waterlooville, Hampshire, UK. Equipment: Canon EOS 600D, Officina Stellare 130 APO Triplet Refractor, NEQ6 mount
Jones Emberson 1 (JnEr1) by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
Jones Emberson 1 (JnEr1) by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
The Headphones Nebula - Jones-Emberson 1. PK 164+31.3 by Pete Lawrence, Lisburn, N. Ireland. Equipment: Skywatcher Quattro 200 CF, NEQ6 Pro, Atik 428EX Mono, Skywatcher ST-80, QHY5L-II, Ha & Oiii Filters
The Headphones Nebula - Jones-Emberson 1. PK 164+31.3 by Pete Lawrence, Lisburn, N. Ireland. Equipment: Skywatcher Quattro 200 CF, NEQ6 Pro, Atik 428EX Mono, Skywatcher ST-80, QHY5L-II, Ha & Oiii Filters
Sh2 173 The Phantom Nebula by Bob Scott, Northumberland, UK. Equipment: William Optics 90 Megrez, QHY9m, EQ6
Sh2 173 The Phantom Nebula by Bob Scott, Northumberland, UK. Equipment: William Optics 90 Megrez, QHY9m, EQ6
Vulpecula Skyscape by Paul C Swift, Valencia, Spain. Equipment: Starlight Express SXVR-H18, Sky-Watcher NEQ6 Pro, Vixen VSD, sx loadstar, Baader H-alpha 3.5 Nm, Baader SII 8.5nm, Baader O III 8.5nm, Starlight Xpress USB filter wheel
Vulpecula Skyscape by Paul C Swift, Valencia, Spain. Equipment: Starlight Express SXVR-H18, Sky-Watcher NEQ6 Pro, Vixen VSD, sx loadstar, Baader H-alpha 3.5 Nm, Baader SII 8.5nm, Baader O III 8.5nm, Starlight Xpress USB filter wheel
IC2118 - The Witch Head Nebula by Bob Franke, Chino Valley, Arizona USA. Equipment: Takahashi FSQ-106ED, SBIG STF-8300, Baader LRGB, Losmandy G11
IC2118 - The Witch Head Nebula by Bob Franke, Chino Valley, Arizona USA. Equipment: Takahashi FSQ-106ED, SBIG STF-8300, Baader LRGB, Losmandy G11
Witch Head Nebula by Zdenek Bardon, La Silla, Chile. Equipment: Zeiss Sonnar 2/135, Nikon D810A, Vixen Polarie.
Witch Head Nebula by Zdenek Bardon, La Silla, Chile. Equipment: Zeiss Sonnar 2/135, Nikon D810A, Vixen Polarie.
IC2118 Witch Head Nebula by Quek Zong Ye, Singapore. Equipment: Takahashi Epsilon 180ed, QHY16200 Coold CCD, Skywatcher AZ-EQ6
IC2118 Witch Head Nebula by Quek Zong Ye, Singapore. Equipment: Takahashi Epsilon 180ed, QHY16200 Coold CCD, Skywatcher AZ-EQ6

Authors

Ezzy Pearson is the News Editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Her first book about the history of robotic planetary landers is out now from The History Press.

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