Astro-Images | Four Nebulae

I’ve created color composites from three grayscale images using the technique in this post. The colors assigned are not necessarily what the human eye would see, but are used to bring out details. Unless otherwise noted, all images used three original grayscales from the Hubble Legacy Archive. Visit the gallery of previous Astro-Images.


NGC 7009

The Saturn Nebula is in the constellation Aquarius. William Herschel found it 7 Sep 1782 using a telescope in his garden. The image he saw had a central bulge with narrow extensions on either side that made it look a bit like Saturn. Images today show more detail and make it look less like Saturn. The hot central star is emitting jets of debris to the upper left and lower right.


Saturn Nebula



NGC 7293

The Helix Nebula is also in Aquarius. It is one of the closest of the bright nebulae at 700 light years. It is so large that this one Hubble view I made only captures a small part of it. It appears there is streaming material toward the upper right. There is a hot energetic star to the lower left just out of view which is blowing gas and dust with its stellar wind.

Helix Nebula

Helix Nebula

Below is a much wider-angle view using several merged Hubble images seen in the infrared part of the spectrum. Sometimes the the Helix Nebula is call the Eye of God, or the Eye of Sauron, for obvious reasons. Click for a more detailed view.

NASA, ESA, and C.R. O’Dell (Vanderbilt University)




NGC 7354

Distant and hard to see for amateurs, William Herschel said this object was Smoky. The name stuck. Our current Hubble views of the Smoky Nebula allow my composite to show the central star, the surrounding gases, and the jets extending to the upper left and lower right.

Smoky Nebula

Smoky Nebula



NGC 7662

Found in the constellation Andromeda, the Blue Snowball Nebula is a popular target for observers with small telescopes. The 75,000 Kelvin central variable star shows some nebulosity around it. Much larger telescopes reveal more detail. This color composite uses Hubble images and reveals great detail.

Blue Snowball Nebula

Blue Snowball Nebula

10 thoughts on “Astro-Images | Four Nebulae

  1. I don’t know why it’s taken so long for me to notice this, but the Smoky nebula looks a bit like a flagellate, and the Blue Snowball resembles a volvox. An astronomical-biological connection? Why not? Well, at least metaphorically.

    The colors are beautiful. The Helix looks like a scarf my mom knit for me once.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I should re-read that book. I looked at the list of characters and noticed this quote from Benjamin. “Life will go on as it has always gone on—that is, badly.” I don’t mean to share this saying I’m a pessimist…usually the opposite. Though, somedays, it is hard to be an optimist.


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