The famed Orion Nebula is the star attraction of this gorgeous night sky photo sent in to SPACE.com recently by an amateur astronomer.
Astrophotographer Chuck Manges of Hooversville, Pa., captured this photo of the Orion Nebula, which is also known as Messier 42 or NGC 1976. The nebula is located approximately 1,500 light-years from Earth. The vivid colors seen in the iconic nebula’s region of star formation are created by oxygen and hydrogen gas emission.
Messier 42 spans 40 light-years across and can be viewed with the unaided eye near the belt of the three stars in the constellation Orion. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). [See more spectacular photos of the Orion Nebula]
The photo is a combination of images Manges took with a QHY9M CCD camera and two different telescopes. An Orion ED102T CF telescope mounted on an Orion Sirius was used to view the nebula from October to November 2012. He also used an Astro-Tech AT65EDQ mounted on an Orion Sirius on Nov. 8, 2013. The images were acquired using APT software, guiding with Starlight Express OAG and QHY5L-II.
Nebulosity 3 was used to combine all the 65mm/102mm subs. The image was post processed with Photoshop CS6 and StarTools.
To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by SPACE.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.
Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.