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NGC 2261 (Hubble's Variable Nebula), a 10th-magnitude reflection nebula in Monoceros.

This nebula, often mistaken for a comet, is noted for the relatively rapid changes in its appearance. The mechanism for the change is believed to be dark clouds of dust around the star that illuminates the nebula -- as the dust clouds move, they cast shadows onto different parts of the nebula. If you find another image of NGC 2261, compare it with this one, which was taken on 10 December, 1993.

NGC 2000-3999 | OCA Image Gallery Index | Return to OCA Home Page