HORSE HEAD NEBULA
Viewing the King James Version. Click to switch to 1611 King James Version of Revelation 19:11.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse..."
The bright star Alnitak (Zeta Orionis, the easternmost star in Orion's belt) is at the center of one of the most remarkable and picturesque regions in the sky. The radiation of this hot star excites the gas in the surrounding nebulae and causes it to emit light. The nebula strip running south from Alnitak is the designated IC 434, into which the famous dark nebula called the Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33) protrudes from the eastern side. The dark nebula's shape resembles the head and neck of a horse, hence its name. Dark nebulae are clouds of dust in space that obscure stars and other objects behind them.
The other nebula on to the east of Alnitak is called the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024). It is overlayed by several dark lanes, the main one of these splits NGC 2024 into two parts. This nebula certainly has a flame-like appearance. Its western part is also overlayed by blue glare from the star Alnitak. The unusual color of this nebula has been noticed, in color photographs it usually appears yellow or a sort of orange almost unique to this object.
To the upper left of the Horsehead is the blue reflection nebula NGC 2023. Other reflection nebulae in this photo are IC 431, IC 432 and IC 435, all of them located around bright stars.
Along with the Great Orion Nebula M42/43 and its surrounding nebulae, this region is part of a large nebulous complex where stars are forming out of the dust and gas. Located at a distance of about 1,500 light years, this complex is the closest star forming region to our own solar system.