Dark Horse (astronomy)

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Dark Horse Nebula
Dark nebula
GreatDarkHorse Nebulae.jpg
Dark Horse Nebula
Observation data: J2000.0 epoch
Right ascension 17h 21m
Declination −21° 07′
Distance ?? ly
Apparent magnitude (V)
Apparent dimensions (V) 10 degrees
Constellation Ophiuchus
Physical characteristics
Radius ?? ly
Absolute magnitude (V)
Notable features
Designations Great Dark Horse
See also: Lists of nebulae

The Dark Horse Nebula or Great Dark Horse (sometimes called The Prancing Horse) is a large dark nebula,[1] which as seen from Earth, obscures part of the upper central bulge of the Milky Way. The Dark Horse lies in the equatorial constellation Ophiuchus (the Serpent Bearer), near its borders with the more famous constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius. It is a significant, visible feature of the Milky Way's Great Rift. It can only be seen from very dark places (places without light pollution) and places that do not have a lot of moisture in the atmosphere.[2]


This region of dark nebulae is called Dark Horse because it resembles the side silhouette of a horse and appears dark as compared with the background glow of stars and star clouds. It is also known as "Great" because it is one of the largest (in apparent size) groups of dark nebulae in the sky.

Nearby Nebulae[edit]

The rear of The Great Dark Horse (its rump and hind legs), is also known as the Pipe Nebula,[3] which itself carries the designation B77, B78, and B59. (The 'B' numbers named after the astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard,[1] who catalogued dark nebulae.) The Snake Nebula (B72) is by comparison a small S-shaped nebula emerging from the west side of the northern part of the bowl of the Pipe (B77).[4]

Here is a list of some of the nebulae in the constellation Ophiuchus excluding The Dark Horse Nebula and nebula inside of the Dark Horse Nebula:[5][6]

  • Twin Jet Nebula
  • Little Ghost Nebula
  • Barnard 68
  • NGC 6572
  • IC 4603
  • IC 4604
  • Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Martinez, Tom J. "The Dark Horse and The Pipe Nebula". tomjmartinez.blogspot.com. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "Saturn riding the Dark Horse | EarthSky.org". earthsky.org. Retrieved 2018-06-23. 
  3. ^ Ludriguss, Jerry. "Catching the Light". www.astropix.com. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Images taken with RFO's robotic (CCD) telescope". rfo.org. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "nebula in ophiuchus - Bing". www.bing.com. Retrieved 2018-06-23. 
  6. ^ "Ophiuchus Constellation: Facts, Location, Myth, Stars, Deep Sky Objects | Constellation Guide". www.constellation-guide.com. Retrieved 2018-06-23.