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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Orion's Belt: a gorgeous Cosmic Vista in the Winter Sky!

The Orion's Belt: a gorgeous Cosmic Vista in the Wnter Sky!
Click on the image to enlarge

Orion is the master of the winter skies. He lords over the heavens from late fall to early spring, with his hunting dog Sirius trailing at his feet.
The constellation's main feature is of course the three stars which form the "belt" across the middle of Orion: from west to east Mintaka, Alnilam, and Alnitak. Even the Bible makes reference to this famous group.
The last of these stars is also known as zeta Orionis, and is a well known triple star system. The primary is a blue-white star, and its companion (165°, 2.3") is a dull red. Close by, just to the south, is the renowned Horsehead Nebula, a so-called dark nebula that is not visible in scopes but quite spectacular in long-exposure photographs.
Alnitak is also responsible for another great feature in this region. Infact, excites the hot gases in NGC 2024 (Flame Nebula) causing it to glow in almost unique and beautiful colours, predominantly shell-pink, but ranging from yellow to deep orange. The dark central area is caused by a lane of dust in the foreground.
Credit: Davide De Martin
http://www.skyfactory.org/

2 comment(s):

Catherine Laplace-Builhe said...

A wonder ! Thanks Jean-Baptiste for sharing !

WHITE OM said...

This is the winter sky above the grey clouds and it is spectacular. Thank you for showing. White Om Marlena.

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