The Prancing Horse dark nebula

The "Prancing horse" dark nebula really is not a single nebula but a combination of various dark nebula in the milky way star cloud. I first became aware of this "nebula" in the mid-1980s when it was pointed out to me by several astrophotographers.  This image of the milky way shows the location of the horse:

Photographing the nebula is not easy.  I took a series of photographs using a Pentax K-X camera set at ISO 800 with a 200mm F2.8 lens.  Exposure times were three-minutes each.  I then stitched the images together using Microsoft's ICE program.

There are many dark nebulae visible in this image.  The rear leg is composed of the "pipe" nebula B77, 78, and 59.  In the center of the image is the "snake" nebula (B72).  The front up lifted leg is B63.  The other front leg, which is fainter, is composed of B253 and B246.  The head of the horse consists of B268, 270, 259, B64, and B266.

The entire region is a fascinating collection of nebulae and star clusters that can keep any amateur astronomer busy for months observing or photographing. 



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