Looming in the night sky as if they are about to collide, the Horsehead and Flame nebulas shine in this spectacular image by an amateur astronomer in Georgia.
Skywatcher Greg Hogan took this image on Jan. 13 from Kathleen, Georgia, and was amazed at the results. "I experimented a little last night and tried something new on an old target. Needless to say the results are pretty incredible," Hogan told Space.com in an email.
Located approximately 1,500 lightyears from Earth in the constellation Orion, the Horsehead Nebula is simple to spot due to its unique shape resembling a horse's head. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). The star seen just above the Flame nebula is Alnitak. [Gallery: Strange Nebula Shapes - What Do YOU See?]
The Horsehead nebula is also called Barnard 33 in emission nebula IC 434 and is part of a large, dark molecular cloud. It was first spotted in 1888 by astronomers at the Harvard College Observatory, who imaged the nebula using a telescope and photographic plates.
To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by our 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.