|Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka|
are the bright bluish stars
from east to west (left to right) along the diagonal in
this gorgeous cosmic vista.
Otherwise known as the
Belt of Orion, these
three blue supergiant stars are hotter and much more
massive than the Sun.
They lie about 1,500 light-years away, born
of Orion's well-studied interstellar clouds.
In fact, clouds of gas and dust adrift in this region have
intriguing and some surprisingly familiar shapes, including the
dark Horsehead Nebula
and Flame Nebula near
Alnitak at the lower left.
The famous Orion Nebula
itself lies off the bottom of this colorful star field.
Recorded last December with a modified digital SLR camera and small
telescope, the well-planned,
two frame mosaic
spans about 4 degrees on the sky.