Rigel and IC 2118 (Witch Head Nebula), Robert Gendler, CC BY 4.0
Witch Head Nebula is located about 900 light years from Earth (FYI: 1 ly = 9+ trillion km/6 trillion m) within Eridanus (a large constellation appearing as a “river” in the southern hemisphere). “Nebula” is the name for an accumulation of dust, gases and other material that form into clouds within our galaxy and beyond. There are lots of them out there and several different types, and it’s believed Witch Head is an ancient “supernova remnant” nebula, meaning it was created by a massive star explosion. The wicked witch profile is created by the illumination of this cosmic cloud by Rigel, a nearby supergiant, blue-white star in the Orion constellation, that’s a couple hundred thousand times brighter than the Sun.
Astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences, and amateur astronomers have made significant contributions to understanding the universe with observational study and discoveries. Astronomy is also a cool hobby, enjoyed and shared by people at all levels throughout the world. Learn more about getting started from this NASA website info page. If you’d just like to look through a telescope or do some stargazing on a clear, dark night, search for community college classes, astronomy club special event ‘star parties’, and public viewing nights at observatories and state and national parks. Find HERE a list of US national park night sky programs as well as tips on where/how to find stars at home, around town and in the wilderness. Shop for Telescopes and Stargazing Guide Book * to learn more and start searching the night sky.
NASA: The Witch Head Nebula
Wikipedia: IC 2118, Astronomy
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Image of Witch Head Nebula is courtesy of NASA/STScl Digitized Sky Survey/Noel Carboni
Image “Rigel & IC 2118” by Robert Gendler CC BY 4.0 (sourced from Wikimedia)
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