Taken on 23rd January 2009 from Dengie Marshes, Essex, UK
Canon 20Da DSLR camera with Canon 200mm telephoto lens at f 4. Tracking on an Astrotrac mount.
60 mins total exposure 20 no x 3 minute exposures stacked using Deep Sky Stacker 800 ISO and IDAS filter mounted over lens front.
The bright nebula to the right is the famous Orion Nebula, M42. It is a stellar nursery full of relatively young stars, meaning just a few million years old. We are in effect looking into a huge cavern that has been opened up in the side of a much larger giant molecular cloud. A relatively small region of this cloud of dust and gas collapsed to form new stars. At that time the star formation was taking place out of sight, hidden by the cloud's impenetrable dust. Once the nuclear reactions started inside the new stars, the energy they began to radiate blew a hole in the side of the cloud whereby we can now see what's going on within.
To the left is the famous Horsehead Nebula. The whole of the bottom left corner of this picture is pervaded by a dark molecular cloud. The Horsehead is simply a wisp of the cloud's opaque dust and gas seen in silhouette against the bright emission nebula behind it.
You can see more of Pete Carson's photographs on his website by going to our Links page.