Skies By Africa

Images of the Heavens By Eric Africa

The Veil Nebula Complex

The Veil Nebula
Around 10,000 years ago a brilliant star lit up the night sky in the vicinity of the constellation Cygnus the Swan and shone brilliantly for a few weeks. While there are no known records of this event, it is quite likely that quite a few early humans were awed and dazzled by the appearance of this “guest” star. We now know that that this “new star” was a supernova, or a massive star that blew itself apart at the end of its tumultuous life. Telescopes aimed at this point in space now reveal the aftereffects of the explosion, still evident after all this time.

The Veil Nebula shows up as discrete tendrils of gas covering about 3 degrees of sky (6 times the diameter of the Full Moon). The components have been given different catalog entries, though wide-field images like this reveal them to display a somewhat circular shape, hinting at the expanding shock wave from the blast. The tendrils of gas are not the remnants of the dead star but the shock wave from the blast crashing into and interacting with interstellar gas at speeds of over a million kilometers per hour! This nebula is visible with small telescopes at dark sites, and can be seen with proper filtration from light-polluted skies. Views of this nebula from dark sites with big telescopes and proper filtration are memorable.

This is a narrow-band/RGB emulation, mapping H-alpha data (7.5 hours total exposure) to Red, OIII (6.5 hours exposure) to green and a blend of H-alpha and OIII (simulating H-beta) to blue. 70 minutes each of RGB data was also imaged to give the stars a natural RGB color. The data for this image was taken over several nights in July, 2008 from my backyard in West Chester, Ohio.
Constellation: Cygnus
When Visible: July - December
Distance: 2,600 Light-years
Date: July 2008
Location: West Chester, Ohio
Exposure Details:
H-alpha: 15 x 30 minutes
OIII: 13 x 30 minutes
R: 7 x 10 minutes binned 1x1
G: 7 x 10 minutes binned 1x1
B: 7 x 10 minutes binned 1x1
Equipment used: Takahashi FSQ-106N on an Astro-Physics AP1200GTO mount. SBIG STL-6303 camera with 8-position filter wheel and Astrodon filters. Externally guided with an SBIG Remote Guide Head on a Borg 45ED refractor.
Acquisition Software: MaximDL, TheSky6, CCDAutopilot
Processing Software: MaximDL, Photoshop CS, IrFanView