Credit: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope / Coelum (J.-C. Cuillandre & G. Anselmi)

Pretty much anyone with even the most remote interest in space has probably seen the spectacular images of space — the Orion Nebula, the Pillars of Creation, Fairy of the Eagle, etc — taken by NASA. They inspire awe in everyone, and rightly so. Yet most people have no idea just what goes into putting one of these iconic images together. 

In many cases, the final product is a composite, stitched together using images taken at various parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (beyond light in the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, ultraviolet, infrared and x-ray are popular), sometimes they are falsely-colored to convey things like temperature and composition, and, of course, it usually takes several hours of exposure time to gather enough light to make the fine details appear on film (astrophotography 101).

Needless to say, if you were traveling through space a few light-years away from, say, the Orion nebula, NASA bedamned, it wouldn’t look anything like the pictures. So, what WOULD it look like?

WATCH: “What Does Space Really Look Like?”


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