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Rho Ophiuchi: A Brilliantly Colored Interstellar Cloud (Photo)
The Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex, captured by astrophotographer Miguel Claro from Cumeada Observatory, headquarters of Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve in Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portugal.
Credit: Miguel Claro

Miguel Claro is a Lisbon, Portugal-based professional photographer, author and science communicator who creates spectacular images of the night sky. As a European Southern Observatory photo ambassador, a member of The World At Night and the official astrophotographer of the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve, he specializes in astronomical "skyscapes" that connect Earth and the night sky. Join him here as he takes us through his photograph "Rho Ophiuchi: A Colorful Cloud in Space." 

Featuring the bright, red supergiant star Antares, the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex is one of the most vibrant and colorful nebulas in space and the closest star-forming region to the solar system.

Located approximately 460 light-years away from Earth, the interstellar clouds of gas and dust that make up Rho Ophiuchi contain emission nebulas that are rich with red, glowing hydrogen gas and blue reflection nebulas that reflect starlight from their surroundings. The dark-brown regions in the cloud complex consist of interstellar dust grains that prevent any light from passing through. [Rho Ophiuchi: A Colorful Cosmic Cloud in Photos]

From the lower left corner of this image, a dust lane known as the "Dark River" extends about 100 light-years from the dark Pipe Nebula toward the colorful Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex, where it appears to be connected to Antares. 

The distant globular star cluster Messier 4, or M4, is visible to the right of Antares, which is one of the brighter stars in the night sky. However, M4 lies far beyond the colorful cloud complex, at a distance of some 7,000 light-years from Earth.

To capture this image of Rho Ophiuchi, I used a Nikon D810a DSLR astrophotography camera with a focal lens of 105mm with an aperture set to f/3.5, and a Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro mount. The camera was programmed to shoot with an ISO setting of 800 and an exposure time of 105 seconds. The final composite combines 42 frames with a combined exposure time of 74 minutes. Image processing was completed with PixInsight 1.8 and Adobe Photoshop CC. 

The image was taken from the Cumeada Observatory at the Dark Sky Alqueva Reserve in Reguengos de Monsaraz, Portugal.

To see more of Claro's amazing astrophotography, visit his website: miguelclaro.com. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.