The dusty region between Ophiuchus and Scorpius contains some of the most colourful and spectacular nebulae ever photographed. The upper part of the picture is filled with the bluish glow of light from hot stars reflected by a huge, cool cloud of dust and gas where such stars are born. This dust is also seen as a dark nebulaa, hiding the light of background stars, especially on middle left (east) of the picture. Dominating the lower half of this cosmic landscape is the over-exposed image of the red supergiant star Antares, a star that it is steadily shedding material from its distended surface as it nears the end of its life. These solid particles reflect Antares' light and hide it in a nebula of its own making. Partly surrounding Sigma Scorpii at the right of the picture is a red emission nebula, completing the most comprehensive collection of nebular types ever seen in one photograph. There's also two globular clusters, one of the nearest, M4 at lower centre right and NGC 6144, buried in Antares' haze.

Image and text copyright © Anglo-Australian Observatory/Royal Observatory Edinburgh. All rights reserved. Photograph by David Malin.

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