The North America Nebula

The North America Nebula

The North America Nebula

This is a photo of the North America Nebula. The North America Nebula lies 3 degrees east of the bright star Deneb in the constellation Cygnus. The distance to the nebula is not precisely known, because we do not know which star is illuminating the nebula. If this nebula is illuminated by, and at the same distance as, the star Deneb, it would be about 1,600 light-years away. If the nebula was about 1,500 light-years away, then it would measure about 50 light-years across. In the fall of 2004, a paper published by Fernando Comeron and Anna Pasquali may have identified the star that illuminates the nebula, a star whose light is obscured by interstellar dust so that it is almost invisible to us. The nebula has become brighter over the years, so that it can now be seen with relatively small telescopes, whereas 100 years ago it could only be detected with long exposure photography. This nebula was first photographed by German astronomer Max Wolf on December 12, 1890. The nebula was perhaps discovered by William Herschel on October 24, 1786, when he found star cluster NGC 6997 and cataloged a "faint, extremely large, diffuse nebulosity" in the same area of the sky. It was definitely discovered by John Herschel before 1833.

The Pelican Nebula is just to the right of the North America Nebula in this photo. The North America Nebula and the Pelican Nebula are separated by a dark absorption cloud. This photograph was published in the 2007 Vatican Observatory Calendar.

This is a 30 minute guided exposure using a Takahashi Epsilon 250 telescope at f3.4. Guiding was accomplished using an SBIG ST-4 autoguider mounted on a 78mm Takahashi guidescope. This is a medium format shot, using Kodak PRO-100 color negative film.

NGC 7000 (the North America Nebula)
Constellation: Cygnus
RA: 20h 58m 44.7s Dec: +44d 19' 27"

IC 5070 (the Pelican Nebula)
Constellation: Cygnus
RA: 20h 50m 45.8s Dec: +44d 20' 34"

April 16, 1999
Photo by Sid Leach
Iola, Texas

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