In this captivating frame, the Running Man Nebula (NGC 1977) is beautifully complemented by the presence of NGC 1981, an open cluster that lies just above it in the Orion complex. The Running Man, a reflection nebula, glows with ethereal blue hues, a result of the scattering of starlight off its fine dust particles. Above it, NGC 1981 adds a sprinkle of stellar brilliance, its collection of bright stars creating a contrast against the deeper backdrop of space.

NGC 1981, while not as widely recognised as its nebular neighbour, plays a crucial role in the composition of this image. The cluster’s stars are a mix of bright young giants and older, more subdued stars, offering a glimpse into the stellar lifecycle. This contrast highlights the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of the cosmos.

Captured from the clear, dark skies of Venus Bay, far from the light pollution of Melbourne, this photograph represents a moment of triumph against the challenges of weather and timing. The serene beauty of NGC 1977 and the stellar clarity of NGC 1981 together reflect the wonder and complexity of the universe, a constant source of inspiration and intrigue.

This image, a harmonious blend of dust and starlight, of the ephemeral and the eternal, invites a moment of reflection on the grandeur of the universe and our place within it.

Dec. 18, 2023 · Dec. 19, 2023 · Dec. 20, 2023 · Dec. 21, 2023

Antlia Blue Pro: 16×300″(1h 20′) (gain: 76.00) -10°C bin 1×1
Antlia Green Pro: 17×300″(1h 25′) (gain: 76.00) -10°C bin 1×1
Antlia Luminance Pro: 66×180″(3h 18′) (gain: 76.00) -10°C bin 1×1
Antlia Red Pro: 16×300″(1h 20′) (gain: 76.00) -10°C bin 1×1

7h 23′

RA center: 05h35m08s.64

DEC center: -04°39′48″.9

Pixel scale: 1.045 arcsec/pixel

Orientation: 0.288 degrees

Field radius: 0.831 degrees

Resolution: 9142 × 6876

Location: Venus Bay,  Victoria

Sky Plot