Spectacular Photo of Orion Space Cloud Snapped by Night Sky Observers

Orion Complex Knutson Skywatching
The Orion Molecular Cloud Complex is a region of nebulae, dark clouds and newly-formed stars the constellation Orion. (Image credit: Josh Knutson)

After seven cold nights, an exhausted astrophotographer captured this beautiful photo of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex.

The complex is a region of a vast nebula containing dark dust clouds and newly-formed stars the constellation Orion. It has a range of bright and dark regions some of which can be seen with the naked eye.

Astrophotographer Josh Knutson from Rio Rancho, New Mexico teamed up with Salvatore Grasso in June to complete post processing of this stunning night sky  image. The night sky photographers made the image using a 200 mm SCT telescope. The image was made by taking a 28-hour exposure over seven days, with Knutson and Grasso collaborating in the post-processing work.

“Photographically the Orion Complex is one of the most difficult deep sky objects to properly image due to the extreme dynamic range of bright and dark regions which makes it a test of skill,” Knutson said.

The Orion nebula is one of the most recognized such objects in the complex. The entire Orion complex is located about 1,500 light-years away  and is several hundred light-years across. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, about 6 trillion miles or 10 trillion kilometers. [Amazing Orion Nebula Pictures]

“The Orion image is my absolute favorite area of the sky as it contains so many different types of deep sky objects in one field of view,” Knutson said.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing skywatching photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com.

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Contributing Writer and Producer

Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for Space.com. She began writing and producing content for Space.com in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.