The Northern Pencils


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This faint fragment of the Veil Nebula has no specific NGC number. The nebula in this image shows some similarities to the well known Pencil Nebula (NGC 2736), located in the Southern Vela SNR. This is why I call them, the Northern Pencils. This kind of crisscrossing structures are not rare in large SNRs and are due to the expansion of the gases on the outer shells of the SNR, combined with the perspective with which we see them.

Located about 2,100 light years away, in the constellation Cygnus, the Veil Nebula is a SuperNova Remnant (SNR) that originated with the explosion of a massive star (about 20 times that of our Sun) about 7000-8000 years ago. When it exploded, its brightness may have rivaled that of the Moon. It has two distinct regions (Eastern and Western) and occupies a “donut” of about 3 degrees in diameter. Most of the expelled gas is located on this donut, but this very special (fainter than the two Eastern and Western regions) region is located in the central area.

This image (a two-pane mosaic) was taken with narrowband filters (5 nm Ha, 3 nm OIII) as well as short RGB images for the stars. An image of the Bat Nebula, another fragment of this same Veil Nebula, can be seen here, as well as the Fleming’s Triangle.


Additional Information


Name(s): The Northern Pencils

Type: SuperNova Remnant

RA:  20h 51m 39s

Dec: +29º 01’ 02”

Constellation: Cygnus

Size (arcmin): 33×17 arcmin

Magnitude: ND

Distance: 2,100 ly


Date: 2022-07-23 to 2022-09-21

Location: Curiosity2 Observatory, New Mexico Skies, Mayhill, NM, USA

Size (arcmin): 44×27

Telescope: 24” (61 cm) f/6.5 Reflector

Camera: FLI PL16803 (4096x4096pix)

Guiding: Astrodon MonsterMOAG off-axis guider

Total exposure: 73h 20m (Ha: 38h; OIII: 29h 20m; RGB: 6h)

Processing: CCDStack, PixInsight (one step) and Photoshop CC 2023

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