A Horse in the Sky

Image Credit: NASA, NOAO, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgment: K. Noll (Hubble Heritage PI/STScI), C. Luginbuhl (USNO), F. Hamilton (Hubble Heritage/STScI)

Like a giant horse sticking his head up from a ocean of dust and gas, the Horsehead Nebula is one of the most recognized objects in the sky. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope took this closeup image in April 2001. We cannot see it with our eyes, but the nebula is in the constellation of Orion, the hunter. It lies just south of Zeta Orionis, the left hand star in Orion’s belt.

Credit & Copyright:  Nigel Sharp (NOAO), KPNO, AURA, NSF

Credit & Copyright: Nigel Sharp (NOAO), KPNO, AURA, NSF

The nebula gets its name from its overall horse head shape when viewed in telescopes on Earth.

The nebula, also known as Barnard 33, was first discovered on a photographic plate taken in the late 1800s. It’s horse head shape is only by chance and contains a nursery for young stars. One day this nebula will be home to hundreds of new stars.



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The ancient peoples saw pictures in the sky. From those patterns in the heavens, ancient storytellers created legends about heroes, maidens, dragons, bears, centaurs, dogs and mythical creatures...
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