Skies By Africa

Images of the Heavens By Eric Africa

vdB141, the Ghost Nebula Region

Ghost Nebula
vdB 141, highlighted in the 100% inset below, is a reflection nebula in the constellation Cepheus. The "vdB" in the catalog number stands for "van den Bergh", which is a catalog of reflection nebulae created by Sidney van den Bergh in 1966. By its shape, it has earned the nickname "The Ghost Nebula". Though when I first saw a high-resolution close-up image of this object, the first thing that leapt to my mind was a trio of dancers traipsing under a sheet. Granted, given the "sheet", ghosts come to mind. But the term "ghost" invokes fearful images of spectres haunting and spooking us. The poses of the "ghosts" evokes a feeling of joy to me, as the "dancers" reach for the sky, with the most prominent one (near the bright star) acting out a bird taking flight.

No matter our interpretation of these images in our human minds, these shapes are clouds of dust faintly reflecting the light from nearby stars. The dark region to the right of the dancers is a dust cloud collapsing and likely forming a star, possibly even a binary star.

The detached cloud soaring above the "dancers" looks like a bird taking flight in longer-focal-length images. I could not find any designations for any of the other objects in this wide field image, but that detached soaring cloud, which my wife says resembles a "Bat Signal", has been identified by some pages as "vdB 141 South".
Constellation: Cepheus
When Visible: August - January
Distance: 1,200 Light-years
Date: November 2011
Location: Rancho Hidalgo, Animas, NM
Exposure Details:
L: 35 x 10 minutes Binned 1 x 1
R: 15 x 10 minutes Binned 1 x 1
G: 15 x 10 minutes Binned 1 x 1
B: 15 x 10 minutes Binned 1 x 1

13 hours and 20 minutes total exposure time
Equipment Used:  Takahashi TOA-130F on an Astro-Physics AP1200GTO mount. SBIG STL-6303E camera with FW8-STL filter wheel and Astrodon LRGB and narrowband filters. Robofocus focuser and Astrodon Takometer rotator.
Acquisition Software : MaximDL 5, TheSky6, CCDAutopilot 5, FocusMax, Takometer Controller
Processing Software: MaximDL, Photoshop CS, Carboni Actions, IrFanView
The large image linked to above is only 75% of the original sized image. Here is a 100% sized crop of vdB141: