Deep space exploration and images captured via space telescope are nothing short of extraordinary as ever-improving technology enables scientists to reach farther toward distant planets and other galaxies.  The wispy blue Witch Head Nebula (aka IC 2118) is just one example of many discoveries, but probably best represents the magic and mysteries of space and our fascination with the supernatural.

 

The Witch Head Nebula is a reflection nebula located in the Eridanus constellation.

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.

 

When you make the finding yourself – even if you’re the last person on Earth to see the light – you’ll never forget it. Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)

 

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.

Information/Resources:
NASA:  The Witch Head Nebula
Wikipedia:  IC 2118, Astronomy

If you can't find a dark sky to see the stars., the next best thing is to watch the videos on the On2In2™ Night Skies channel

Watch amazing stargazing images captured on film by talented photographers⇒
“If Stars Could Speak” showcases time-lapse video ‘Awake’ by Zach Rogers, and see more from unique vantage points using different cameras and methods via the Watch:  Night Skies video channel and the Cosmos Channel.

 

Since its launch 20 years ago and 2004 Saturn orbit insertion, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft has provided images that have led to significant discoveries.You can see Saturn in the evening sky without a telescope

 

 

 

 

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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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Posted by Zola Zeester

Zola is a vagabond playmaker, the On2In2™ recreation guru and primary source of inspiration for this article. Currently resides at Zeester Media HQ.

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