Distant clouds of gas and dust form the likeness of a rose in this beautiful image of aptly named Rosette Nebula captured by a skilled amateur astronomer.
Astrophotographer Brian Davis took the photo from a driveway in the suburbs of Sumter, S.C., over 4.5 hours on Jan. 28, 2012 using a QSI 583wsg camera, Stellarvue SVR105 4" APO Refractor telescope, mounted on a Celestron CGE. Davis sent the striking image in to SPACE.com on Oct. 8.
The famous nebula, also known as Caldwell 49 or NGC 2237, is located roughly 5,000 light years away at the edge of the molecular cloud Monoceros, or the Unicorn constellation. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). The unique nebula's rose-like shape is formed by radiation from hot, young stars residing in a stellar nursery within the central cluster.
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.
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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.