North is ~ to the top.
The image is rotated 35° clockwise.
This group of nebulae
is located in the constellation Auriga. The bright blue reflection
nebula is vdB31. In 1966 Sidney van den Bergh published a catalog
of 158 reflection nebulae.
As the name implies,
reflection nebulae are clouds of dust that reflect the light of a
nearby star or stars. They appear blue because the nebula more
efficiently scatters blue light. This is the same reason why our sky
The other objects of interest are three dark nebulae, cataloged by
Edward Barnard as B26, B27 and B28. Starting in about 1919 Barnard
photographed and cataloged 370 dark nebulae.
A dark nebula is a
dense interstellar cloud that obscures the light of objects behind
it. The clouds are composed of very small dust particles, coated
with frozen carbon monoxide and nitrogen. These dark clouds are
spawning regions for stars and planets.