Orion Nebula Dons Technicolor Dreamcoat in Spectacular Photo

M 42 Great Nebula in Orion Wittich
Reinhold Wittich took this photo of the Orion Nebula from his backyard observatory in Germany from Feb. 10, 2013 to March 5, 2013 using a 12" f/4 Newton telescope. The image was processed with CCDStack, PixInsight and Photoshop. (Image credit: <a href="http://www.wittich.com/" target="_blank">Reinhold Wittich</a> / www.wittich.com)

The dazzling Orion Nebula found in the famed constellation of the same name bursts with color in this beautiful night sky image.

Astrophotographer Reinhold Wittich took this photo from his backyard observatory in Germany from Feb. 10, 2013 to March 5, 2013 using a12" f/4 Newton telescope. The image was processed with CCDStack, PixInsight and Photoshop.

"Weather was not very good this winter, so it took a few nights to catch the data," Wittich told SPACE.com in an email.

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The Orion Nebula, also known as M42, is located 1,500 light-years away and is about 40 light-years across. The main nebula actually includes the M42 nebula shown here, and the nebula M43, which is not. It can be easily spotted with the unaided eye near the belt of the three stars in the constellation Orion. The vivid colors in the star-forming region are caused by the emission of oxygen and hydrogen gas.

This nebula houses a bright cluster of stars called the Trapezium along with several stellar nurseries containing hot young stars, stellar jets and proplyds.

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 spacephotos@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.