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Barnard 72 (the Snake Nebula), Barnard 68 and the small Planetary Nebula NGC 6369

Object description:

Our image shows almost in the center of the image the dark cloud Barnard 72, which is also called "snake nebula". Barnard 68 is a small, compact and very dense dark cloud. It lies to the right below Barnard 72. Directly below B72 are Barnard 69, Barnard 70 and Barnard 74. The dark cloud complex has a distance to the solar system of about 650 light years.

In the constellation of the Serpens lie numerous, large dark clouds, which were first catalogued photographically by the American astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard. The complete catalog of over 300 dark clouds by Barnard can be found at this URL. Barnard was self-taught and one of the pioneers of astrophotography. In more recent times he was followed by detailed studies of K. Dobashi in infrared light.

Dark clouds or dark nebulae are large collections of interstellar matter which either absorb the light of stars behind them (e.g. the Coal Sack) or when they cover parts of H-II regions or reflection nebulae (e.g. Barnard 33, the Horsehead Nebula in the constellation Orion).
The shape of such dark clouds is mostly irregular and without clearly defined outer boundaries. Many of the dark clouds have proper names, like the Snake Nebula or the Pipe Nebula.

At the left edge of the image is the small planetary nebula NGC 6369. We show a high resolution image of NGC 6369 here.

The nebula complex around Barnard 72, together with the planet Jupiter, we show in a wide angle mosaic here.

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