Dark horse nebula

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Dark horse nebula
GreatDarkHorse Nebulae.jpg
Observational Data
Right ascension 17h 21m
Declination -21° 07′
Constellation Ophiuchus
Type of object Dark nebula
Dimensions 10° [1]
Distance from Earth 650 ly[2]

The Dark Horse nebula is a colossal dark nebula in the constellation of Ophiuchus.[1] It is one of the largest dark nebulae in the night sky at 10 degrees across and 7 degrees wide, and obscures a portion of the bulge of the Milky Way.[3] Its name comes from its horse-like shape and it is also known as the "Great Dark Horse" as well as "The Prancing Horse."

Very dark locations and skies with low moisture content are required to observe this nebula.[1] It can be seen not too far above the horizon in the northern United States but is better seen in the south. Wide-field binoculars will show it easily and in great detail against a rich star field.

The nebula was first catalogued by E. E. Barnard in the early 20th century.[2] Various regions of the nebula are designated nebulae in their own right. The rear and hind legs of the horse are also known as the Pipe nebula. The S-shaped region north-west of the bowl component of the pipe is the Snake nebula. Barnard 68 is yet another dark region of gas and dust in the Dark Horse Nebula


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Eleanor Imster (2017-09-06). Saturn riding the Dark Horse. earthsky.org. Retrieved on 2019-10-24.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Images taken with RFO's robotic (CCD) telescope. rfo.org. Retrieved on 2019-10-24.
  3. Bob King (2017-06-22). Saturn Rides Bareback On The Galactic Dark Horse. universetoday.com. Retrieved on 2019-10-24.