Messier 78 is the brightest diffuse reflection nebula observable in our night sky. The reflection nebula complex depicted in the image above consists of NGC 2068 [left of center], NGC 2064 [right of center], and NGC 2071 [above and left of center]. The illuminated portions in the image above are a portion of a much larger cloud of interstellar dust. The blue color we see in this image is the reflected light of bright blue "early B-type" stars associated with the dust cloud.
Messier 78 is about 1,600 light years distant.
To read more about Messier 78 see: http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m078.html
November 18-19, 2006
LRGB image - Luminance - 60 min., Red - 114 min., Green - 114 min., Blue - 114 min.
Vallecitos Campground, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County, California
Optics - Takahashi Epsilon 160 f/3.3
Mount - Astro-Physics 1200 GTO
Camera - SBIG ST-2000XM