Overview: Horsehead Nebula

of "Lithograph: Horsehead Nebula"
Lithograph: Horsehead Nebula (PDF)
(4.8MB; Adobe Reader required)
This false-color image from the Hubble Space Telescope, taken in infrared light, reveals fledgling stars peeking out from their now-exposed nurseries. The infrared light reveals a tapestry of Milky Way stars and distant galaxies that are usually concealed behind the gas and dust of the Horsehead Nebula. Included is an inquiry-based classroom activity.
Format(s) available: PDF
Grades: 8-12, but the material can be adapted for use in other grades at the teacher's discretion.
How to use it in the classroom

Teachers can use Lithograph: Horsehead Nebula as:

An example of how astronomers use different regions of the Electromagnetic Spectrum. Use the inquiry-based classroom activity, "In Search of … the Electromagnetic Spectrum," which is included with a PDF file of the lithograph.

An engagement tool in an inquiry-based lesson. Have students study the images on the lithograph. Ask them to write down as many questions as possible about the features visible in the images. The students' questions can be used in a variety of ways. Here are a few suggestions:

• Ask students to find the answers to their questions by reading the back of the lithograph and/or the related materials listed below.

• Have students exchange papers so that each student has someone else's questions. Then have them find the answers to those questions by reading the back of the lithograph and/or the related materials listed below.

• Ask for volunteers to read the questions as someone records them on the blackboard or on an overhead transparency sheet. Ask students to raise their hands if they have the same or a similar question. Count the number of raised hands and record the total next to the question. Once all the students' questions have been added to the list, ask them to search for the answers to their questions in the text on the back of the lithograph. When they have completed that task, ask them to decide if each of their questions was answered completely, answered partially, or not answered at all. Go through the original list and place an "A" next to the questions that were answered completely, a "P" next to those that were answered partially, and an "N" next to those that were not answered at all. Determine if the most commonly asked questions were also answered completely. Encourage students to conduct further research to find answers to the unanswered questions.

A content reading tool. Have students read the back of the lithograph and write a quiz for the class.

Related materials

HubbleSite press release: "Hubble Sees a Horsehead of a Different Color"

HubbleSite press release: "By Popular Demand: Hubble Observes the Horsehead Nebula"

HubbleSite news releases on nebulae

See the Stars and stellar evolution section on the "Teaching tools" page.

Overview: Horsehead Nebula