Picture week starts with new Hubble images of an old favorite.

Everyone (in most of the world) can look up into the night sky and see the Orion nebula with their own eyes.  No telescope needed.  Part of the Orion complex is the often imaged Horsehead nebula.  Below is an image that I took a few years ago.

But with a new infra-red camera, Hubble once again bests me.  Oh, to have a telescope outside the atmosphere (or some really good adaptive optics!)

Horsehead in a new infrared light

The latest image of the Horsehead Nebula (IC 434) from Hubble.  The Horsehead nebula is actually a dark molecular cloud, about 1,500 light-years from Earth.  It is only visible because the dark dust that makes up the nebula its is in front of another brighter nebula.  This is one of many so called “dark nebula.”  Most dark nebula are fairly hard to image, because, well, they are dark.  So you have to take a lot of exposures over a long period of time to capture an image of a dark nebula, like the Dark Horse nebula below.

File:GreatDarkHorse Nebulae.jpg

Most of the time you won’t actually be able to tell if you have anything until you do some processing.

Luckily, the Horsehead nebula is fairly easy to capture due to all the bright stuff around it.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +