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Deep-sky photos for February 2024: Editor’s picks

Deep-sky photos: In a star field, a large, spherical, whitish cloud, fading into space all around, with a dark lane across it.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Harshwardhan Pathak of India used a large remote telescope in Chile to capture the galaxy Centaurus A in the constellation Centaurus the Centaur on February 12, 2024. Harshwardhan wrote: “Centaurus A is the 5th brightest galaxy in the sky – making it an ideal target for amateur astronomers – and is famous for the dust lane across its middle and a giant jet blasting away from the supermassive black hole at its center. Centaurus A is an active galaxy about 12 million light-years from Earth.” Spectacular shot. Thank you, Harshwardhan! See more of our editor’s picks from February’s deep-sky photos here.

Stunning deep-sky photos from our community

The EarthSky community has many talented astrophotographers who capture stunning images of the deep sky. So enjoy this gallery of some of the best deep-sky photos we received in February 2024. Do you have some of your own deep-sky images to share? You can submit them to us here. We love to see them!

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Deep-sky photos of diffuse nebulae

Wispy, bluish cocoon of gas with red swirls and scattered faint stars.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Ernest Jacobs in North Java, New York, captured the Crab Nebula in the constellation Taurus on February 3, 2024. Ernest wrote: “It had been several months since we had a clear night. Our astronomy club’s imaging group assembled at our Dark Sky Observatory. We call ourselves the Tuesday Night Imagers, but Tuesday night can be any night of the week. Our target was Messier 1 (M1), aka the Crab Nebula.” Thank you, Ernest!
Wide, sweeping, fuzzy red nebula in a field of scattered stars, with another small blue one near it.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Catherine Hyde in Cambria, California, captured a diffuse nebula in the constellation Canis Major on February 12, 2024. It includes the well-known Thor’s Helmet Nebula. Catherine wrote: “This is a very powerful contrast with the image I shared of the tiny Owl Nebula. This is a huge swath of sky. I captured the Seagull Nebula with the much smaller Thor’s Helmet in the lower right.” Thank you, Catherine!

The Orion molecular cloud complex

Two fuzzy and wispy orange space clouds, one round and the other a huge semicircle, among scattered stars.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Steven Bellavia in Southold, New York, used a telephoto lens to capture the Orion molecular cloud complex (which includes the well-known Orion Nebula), on February 6, 2024. Steven wrote: “A high-resolution, wide-field view of Orion, combining narrowband and broadband filters.” Thank you, Steven!
Large swirls of painting-like glowing swirls in blue and pink in a scattered star field.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Jeremy Likness in Newport, Oregon, captured the Orion Nebula on February 3, 2024. Jeremy wrote: “Lo and behold, the Pacific Northwest had a clear night during the rainy season! It was glorious, so I tried out my new setup. I was very happy with the result. This is the great Orion Nebula, De Mairan’s Nebula and the Running Man Nebula.” Thank you, Jeremy!

A double-star system

Two bright stars, one yellow and one blue, over a background of numerous stars.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Abdul Thomas of Leeds, United Kingdom, captured the double stars Mizar and Alcor in the constellation Ursa Major on February 2, 2024. Abdul wrote: “These 2 stars are clearly visible with the unaided eye and located on the handle of ‘The Plough’ asterism.” Thank you, Abdul!

Deep-sky photos of galaxies

Face-on disk shape with bright blue glowing spiral arms with reddish spots, dark lanes and thousands of foreground stars.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Harshwardhan Pathak of India, using a large remote telescope in Chile, captured the galaxy NGC 1232 in the constellation Eridanus on February 1, 2024. Harshwardhan wrote: “NGC 1232, also known as the Eye of God Galaxy, is an intermediate spiral galaxy about 60 million light-years away. German-British astronomer William Herschel discovered it on October 20, 1784.” Thank you, Harshwardhan!
Oblique view of large blue and yellow nebula with prominent spirals, dark lanes and foreground stars.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Andrea Iorio in Marino, Rome, Italy, captured the galaxy Messier 81 on February 14, 2024. Andrea wrote: “M81 is one of the brightest galaxies in the night sky. It lies 11.6 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major and has an apparent magnitude of 7. The galaxy’s central bulge contains much older, redder stars. It is significantly larger than the Milky Way’s bulge. A black hole of 70 million solar masses resides at the center of M81 and is about 15 times the mass of the Milky Way’s central black hole.” Thank you, Andrea!

And a supernova in a distant galaxy

Very oblique, large yellowish spiral with a bright star shown inside a circle, and faint foreground stars.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Ernest Jacobs in North Java, New York, captured supernova SN2024gy in the galaxy NGC 4216 on February 4, 2024. Ernest wrote: “After losing M1 (the object we were imaging previously) to the muck and trees near the horizon, we removed the L-extreme filter and went after SN2024gy in NGC 4216. We managed to collect 7 usable exposures before losing our skies for the night. This supernova is located in a galaxy about 45 million light-years from Earth. The supernova is a Type Ia supernova. Koichi Itagaki discovered it on January 4, 2024.” Thank you, Ernest!

Bottom line: Enjoy this gallery of deep-sky photos for February 2024 from our EarthSky community. And if you have a great photo to share, send it in. We love to see them!

Share your recent Earth or sky photo at EarthSky Community Photos.

March 6, 2024
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