Dark nebulas, including a snake-shaped cosmic cloud, wind through this stunning skywatcher image.
Astrophotographer John Chumack took this image focusing on Barnard 72 or the Snake Nebula from John Bryan State Park Observatory in Yellow Springs, Ohio on July 2.
"It is a small but readily apparent S-shaped dust lane that snakes out in front of the Milky Way star clouds from the north-north-west edge of the bowl of the Pipe Nebula," Chumack wrote in an email to Space.com. [50 Fabulous Deep-Space Nebula Photos]
Dark nebulas are expansive clouds of gas and dust that could potentially form stars in the future. Barnard 72 is a dark nebula in the Ophiuchus constellation, about 5 light-years across, and approximately 650 light-years away. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).
To the right side of the Snake Nebula is Barnard 68. Below it are found Barnard 69, Barnard 70, and Barnard 74.
Chumack used a Baader Modified Canon Rebel Xsi DSLR & 5.5 Newt. Reflector, ISO 1600, at a 68 minute exposure. Multiple exposures are made to collect enough light for an image that would otherwise not be evident to the eye.
You can see more amazing night sky photos by our readers in our astrophotography archive here.
Editor's note: If you have an amazing skywatching photo you'd like to share it with Space.com and our news partners for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at email@example.com.
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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.