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  • Mona Evans

    Bright stars outline the familiar shape of the Christmas Tree Cluster in this visible-light image, which has been rotated 180°. It's adorned with the festive lights of baby stars. Another famous structure, called the Cone Nebula, sits atop the tree. (Image: NOAO/AURA/NSF) Mona Evans, "Cosmic White Christmas"

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Our eyes are as beautiful as the galactic nebulae. We're part of the universe as much as the universe is part of us.

What could cause a nebula to appear square? No one is quite sure. The hot star system known as MWC 922, however, appears to be embedded in a nebula with just such a shape.

Butterfly Cluster (M6 / NGC 6405). Bright open star cluster in the constellation Scorpius. Its popular name reflects the butterfly shape you can see in this picture. About eighty stars have been identified, but the cluster probably has over three hundred, mostly hot blue stars. (Image Credit: N.A.Sharp, Mark Hanna, REU program/NOAO/AURA/NSF) Mona Evans, "Scorpius the Scorpion", www.bellaonline.c...

The Witch Head Nebula. It glows from light reflected from bright supergiant Rigel - Orion's left foot! Although Rigel is blue, the nebula is blue because the dust tends to absorb the red part of the light and reflect the blue. (Image: George Greany)

Ground-Based Image of Carina Nebula (NGC 3372)

[M6 - Butterfly Cluster: NGC6405] The open star cluster M6, or NGC6405, is also known as the Butterfly Cluster. M6 is visible to the naked eye in the constellation Scorpius. #kittpeak

The "Peony Nebula," as discovered by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. This three color infrared composite shows 3.6-micrometre light in blue, 8-micrometre light in green, and 24-micrometre light in red. The Peony nebula is the reddish cloud of dust in and around the white circle, surrounding the Peony nebular star.

NGC 6188 is an emission nebula located about 4,000 light years away in the constellation Ara. The bright open cluster NGC 6193, visible to the naked eye, is responsible for a region of reflection nebulosity within NGC 6188.

Blue snowball nebula (NGC7662). A planetary nebula in the constellation Andromeda. The nebula was formed by the aging central star losing its outer layers of atmosphere. (Image credit & copyright: Chris Vedeler) Mona Evans, "Galactic Winter Games" www.bellaonline.c...

A dying star is throwing a cosmic tantrum in this combined image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), which NASA has lent to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. In death, the star's dusty outer layers are unraveling into space, glowing from the intense ultraviolet radiation being pumped out by the hot stellar core.

NGC 2264 contains the Christmas Tree Cluster and the Cone Nebula. (They're at the top of the picture.) (Credit: J-P Metasavainio) Mona Evans, "Christmas in the Skies" www.bellaonline.c...