4 November 2016 | Pacman Nebula

Pacman Nebula

Credit & copyright: Bernard Michaud | Click image to enlarge

Image Data
  • Location: Clermont Ferrand, France
  • Date: October 2016
  • Camera: Atik 383L+
  • Optics: GSO / Teleskop-Service RC8
  • Mount: Skywatcher AZ EQ6 GT
  • Filters: Ha, SII, OIII
  • Exposure: 31 x 1200 H-Alpha 2×2, 30 x 300 OIII 4×4, 30 x 300 SII 4×4.

NGC 281 is an H II region in the constellation of Cassiopeia and part of the Perseus Spiral Arm. It includes the open cluster IC 1590, the multiple star HD 5005, and several Bok globules. Colloquially, NGC 281 is also known as the Pacman Nebula for its resemblance to the video game character.

The nebula was discovered in August 1883 by E. E. Barnard, who described it as “a large faint nebula, very diffuse.” The multiple star HD 5005, also called Beta 1, was discovered by S. W. Burnham. It consists of an 8th-magnitude primary with four companions at distances between 1.4 and 15.7 seconds of arc. There has been no appreciable change in this quintuple system since the first measurements were made in 1875.

The nebula is visible in amateur telescopes from dark sky locations. In his book Deep Sky Wonders, Walter Scott Houston describes the appearance of the nebula in small telescopes:

There was a faint glow in the immediate vicinity of the multiple star, with an occasional impression of a much larger nebulosity…Its surface brightness was much less than that of M33 in Triangulum or NGC 205, the distant companion of the Andromeda galaxy.


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