Here you will find all our astrophotos of nebulae! We are absolutely in love with how bright and colorful many of the nebulae are, and have imaged several from the Messier Catalog as well as the NGC and IC catalogs. The Messier catalog contains 12 nebulae in total.

We always aim to spend a minimum of 3 hours on each nebula we image, although it can sometimes be difficult as we image far from home might not have enough time for a particular target. The longest we've ever spent on a nebula (or on any target actually) is for the huge Barnard's Loop.

Click on an image to learn more about the object and see what gear we used as well as all the acquisition details. We hope this will help you if you are planning on capturing a specific nebula soon!

How Many Types of Nebulae are there?

There are five types of nebulae known. Almost all of the nebulae captured by amateur astrophotographers are found in our own Milky Way galaxy. With great equipment and skills, you can also capture some of these objects from the nearby galaxies such as the Magellanic clouds or M33

  • Thor's Helmet NASA low

    1) Emission Nebulae

    Emission Nebulae are clouds of ionized gases that emit their own light.

    About 90% of these are mostly made up of Hydrogen gas and so are easier to capture with a Hydrogen Alpha filter.

    The most popular emission nebula in the night sky is by far M42 (The Orion Nebula), visible throughout the Winter season. The image above is our all-time favorite nebula: Thor's Helmet.

  • M78 hubble low.jpg

    2) Reflection Nebulae

    Reflection Nebulae are the opposite of emission nebulae. Instead of emitting their own light, these are just clouds that reflect the light from nearby stars.

    Reflection nebulae are often blue, as seen in the picture above of Messier 78, not far from the Orion Nebula.


    Their gases can also be found mixed with gases from emission nebulae.

  • 3) Dark Nebulae

    Dark nebulae, also called absortion nebulae, are clouds of interstellar gas that are so thick that light cannot pass or reflect through them. 

    These are only visible to amateur astrophotographers if they are located in front of clusters of stars or colorful nebulae. A great example of a dark nebula is Barnard 33 (The Horsehead Nebula) as well as the Cone Nebula pictured above.

  • M57 Hubble low.jpg

    4) Planetary Nebulae

    Planetary Nebula are actually types of emission nebulae. The term planetary may be confusing, but these do not have anything to do with planets. This name was first used by William Herschel to describe some of the nebulae he spotted through his telescope, which appeared bright and round in shape just like planets.

    Our sun is believed to give birth to a planetary nebula when it dies.

  • M1 nasa.jpg

    5) Supernova Remnants

    Supernova Remnants appear when a large star goes into supernova. This leaves a shockwave of colorful gas that expands outward at incredible speeds.

    The first entry in Charles Messier's catalog is the Supernova Remnant of the Crab Nebula (as seen above). Another great example of such an object is the Cygnus Loop, which contains 3 major parts of the Veil Nebula.

Nebulae Astrophotography


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