Behold: the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula winding said pareidoliac proboscis through the young star cluster complex IC 1396 in the constellation of Cepheus. To wit:

Also known as vdB 142, seen on the left the cosmic elephant’s trunk is over 20 light-years long. Removed by digital processing, no visible stars are in this detailed telescopic close-up view highlighting the bright swept-back ridges that outline pockets of cool interstellar dust and gas. But the dark, tendril-shaped clouds contain the raw material for star formation and hide protostars within. Nearly 3,000 light-years distant, the relatively faint IC 1396 complex covers a large region on the sky, spanning over 5 degrees. This starless rendition spans a 1 degree wide field of view though, about the angular size of 2 full moons. Of course the dark shapes below and right, marching toward the winding Elephant’s Trunk, are known to some as The Caravan.

(ImageRobert Eder)

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