Barnard 263 is a dark nebula that is clearly defined as a starless, irregular form against the backdrop of the myriad of faint stars in the Milky Way. Not every nebula is seen as a glowing cloud of ionized gas or is illuminated by reflected light from a near-by star. Dark nebula like B263 can only be seen by virtue of the fact that the cloud of gas and dust forming the nebula blocks the light from stars in the background. This cloud of dark gas is so dense that it appears completely dark with a rated magnitude of 79.9. B263 is approximately 30 arc-minutes in diameter. The nebula is a Bok Globule located between us and the center of our galaxy, and is located between Theta Scorpii and Eta Scorpii in the tail of the scorpion.
Early in the 20th Century, E.E. Barnard made a catalog of a number of dark nebulae that he was able to identify photographically. The designation B263 is a reference to the number assigned to this dark nebula by Barnard in his list. Other examples of dark nebulae are the Great Rift in the Milky Way and the Coal Sack in the southern sky.
This image was published in David H. Levy's book entitled Deep Sky Objects: The Best And Brightest From Four Decades Of Comet Chasing, at page 121. This is a composite LRGB color CCD image taken with an SBIG ST-8XE CCD using a Takahashi FS-78 refractor.
RA: 17h 26m 42s Dec: -42d 38' 32"
Sept 3, 2005
Image by Sid Leach
Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
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