IC 434

Alt. Designations: IC 434, Horsehead Nebula
Object Type: emission nebula
Constellation: Orion
Distance: 1.5 kly
Right Ascension: 05h 41m 00.0s
Declination: -02° 27´ 12"
Visual Brightness:
Apparent Dimension: 60.0´ x 10.0´
Best Month To View: Dec

The Horsehead Nebula is the dark nebula in front of the bright red emission nebula IC 434. Dark Nebulae are clouds of dust in space that obscure the stars behind them. Emission nebulae are clouds of glowing ionized gas. Reflection nebulae do not shine by their own light, but are visible because they reflect the light of nearby stars. Along with the Orion Nebula, M42, it is part of a very large complex that is a stellar nursery where stars are forming out of the dust and gas. Located about 1,500 light years away, this complex is the closest star forming region to our own solar system. The Flame Nebula, NGC 2024, is to the lower left of Alnitak, Zeta Orionis, the easternmost star in the three distinctive stars in the Hunter's belt of Orion, and the brightest star in this photo. To the lower left of the Horsehead is the blue reflection nebula NGC 2023. Other reflection nebulae in the photo are IC 435, IC 432 and IC 431.