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EA2007

The Horse's head ?

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Its a common phrase 'the Horsehead nebula', been looking at images of it since I was about 14, its pretty cool.

(silly question on its way) However, to this day I do not exactly understand how it is called the Horsehead nebula....I mean which part of it do you get the Horse's head from? Below should be two images showing a blue circle around the areas I thought may or may not be it:

The first image is how one person described it as being like a chess piece, the second image I can only grasp as the nebula being based on a horse with a black head and white centre down its nose?

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post-13839-133877451688_thumb.jpg

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Nebulae can be dark as well as light - the Horsehead Neb is a classic example of a dark nebulae, obsuring the light from stars behind it.

It reminds me more of the head of a Sea Horse than the equestrian type of horse.

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I agree. I have always thought it looks more like a seahorse then a horse horse, but NOW i can also see the dark headed horse with white stripe running down its nose.

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Both your circles show part of the Horsehead. It is the whole dark affair set against the pink light of Ha behind. It's a funny thing but I have met one or two peple who don't 'see' it straight out while for most it is dead clear. This isn't a criticism but a curious fact about perception.

Combine both your circles, enlarge them a bit, and that's it. Like the others I see more seahorse than horse.

Olly

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I've always thought it looked like a SeaHorse, too..

an abstract one, but a SeaHorse nonetheless. :D

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In equal place with the North America Nebula I think this is the most easily recognisable named shape for a nebula but I agree that it looks more like a seahorse than a 'ned' and most non-astronomers that I show this object to make the same comment.

I like EA2007's imagination and it can be applied to so many other objects too, even sunspot shapes!

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It was evidently named by people more used to seeing chess-pieces than gee-gees. Also it was named from its appearance on photographs (like many DSOs), not from the way it looks in a telescope. With my 12" I saw it as a an L-shape that could just as well have been the head of a dog.

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I always thought it was like looking at a horse from the rear!

It's head slightly tilted to the left...

the darker ribbon below, it's tail....

Ken

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hey,

thanks for the replies. its not that I don't see the shape, its just that I see two possibel shapes. As many of you have said there is the smaller seahorse/chess piece view which is of the head looking away to the left or there is the larger horseshead (why the long face) type look with a horse with a white bit down its nose.

I'm now more inclined to go with the chess piece / seahorse view of the nebulae.

Its a great area, obvious named objects including theis would be the whale and hockey stick, cigar galaxy, sombrero galaxy, eskimo nebula etc etc.

The crab nebula is beyond me however.

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The crab nebula is beyond me however.

Me too, though apparently Lord Rosse was thinking of a spider crab when he named it from its visual appearance in his 72" scope (his drawing is below). I might have been more inclined to go for "pineapple".

post-14602-133877451785_thumb.jpg

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My only visual hit on the Gee Gee made it look like a fairly square dark notch out of some scarcely visible nebulosity.

The object name I like the least is the PacMan nebula, a lovely object which deserves a more august name!

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice

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That's really astonishing and quite fascinating Olly....

I've always "seen" the Seahorse/Chesspiece one, suddenly now I also see a 'real' horse galloping towards me, a white stripe along its dark head, it's mane flying out behind it and even the curve of its forelegs and back. The first shape has always over-ridden the second for me though before now :D

It's an object I too have always wanted to catch a glimpse of since being a teenager, but never could with my old 2.4" years ago ... maybe I will have more luck now with my 4" refractor - any advice on filters, technique etc ?

But grrr, now everytime I look at that picture, it almost morphs from one shape to the other :D

cheers !

Dave ;)

Edited by Totnesdave

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The advice is to get to the darkest sky you can possibly find, and use an H-beta filter if you have one. I don't, and used a Lumicon UHC when I saw it with my 12-inch at a site with limiting mag 6.3. In any case you don't actually "see" the Horsehead, you see the very faint nebula IC434 surrounding it. I sketched the nebulosity I could see, under the very dimmest red light, marking in the tiny glimmers that came fleetingly into view, and when I got my sketch into the light later I found there was a blank unmarked area in the shape of the horsehead (though with a thicker and more dog-like nose). Next time round I'll have a better idea what to "look" for.

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Hi there,

Couldn't help with my opinion on this. For me the North Amercian Nebula, Pelican, Witcheshead, and Horsehead are for me the best descibed shapeof an object. As someone said the Crab escapes them. I always thought it looked like Ireland, but I might be biased there. As someone who spent too much time on video games, I really like the pacman nebula. However on the reverse of this, and as well as the crab nebula, how did the Monkeys head ever get its name.

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