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The Veil Nebula

Original drawing made using white pencil on black paper:

Same drawing on a white background:

September 5, 2002, 9:20 - 11:05 PM, seeing 5, transparency 5.3. Also September 6-7, 2002, 9:50 PM - 12:35 AM, seeing 5, transparency 5.5.

90mm f/5 refractor on alt-az mount. Magnification 15x, 21x, and 28x used with a Lumicon OIII filter.

The Veil Nebula is a supernova remnant located in the constellation of Cygnus. There are two parts to the Veil: NGC 6960, which is the western part centered on the star 52 Cygni (on the right in the drawing above), a magnitude of 7.0, and a size of 210'x160'; and NGC 6992-6995, which compose the eastern part of the Veil (on the left in the drawing above). Both NGC 6992-6995 have a magnitude of 7.0, with NGC 6992 having a size of 12', while NGC 6995 has a size of 60'x8'. The Veil Nebula is approximately 1500 light years away. The Veil Nebula is part of the Herschel II list of the Astronomical League.

William Herschel discovered the Veil Nebula on September 5th 1784 using his 18.7" aperture reflecting telescope that had a focal length of 20 feet. He described the western part of the Veil as "Extended; passes thro' 52 Cygni... near 2 degree in length." Of the eastern part he noted "Branching nebulosity... The following part divides into several streams uniting again towards the south."

Robert Burnham, in his book Burnham's Celestial Handbook refers to it as the "Bridal Veil Nebula"... resembling frost patterns or fine lace".

Walter Scott Houston notes that "It is an excellent nebula for training the eye, perhaps the most important observing "accessory", to help us get the most out of the telescope we are using."

Through the eyepiece NGC 6960, the western part of the Veil, has somewhat of a sinuous appearance to it near the top, which is a little brighter than the bottom portion. The star 52 Cygni appears to be embedded in NGC 6960, and there are two fainter stars below it that appear embedded in the nebulosity as well. The bottom portion appears somewhat feathery like a horse's tail. Near the bottom of the "tail" the center appears slightly darker than the rest of the "tail".

The brightest portion of NGC 6992-6995, the eastern part of the Veil, is at the top. There is a faint indentation along its left side. The middle portion of NGC 6992-6995 is slightly brighter, and the bottom portion on the right hand side appears serrated or like a frayed rope.

Near NGC 6960 is a portion of Pickering's Wedge or Pickering's Triangular Wisp. It appears as a faint elongated patch of nebulosity with several stars embedded in it.

Pickering's Wedge was discovered photographically on September 2nd, 1904 using a 24" telescope. Although it was discovered by Williamina Fleming who examined the photograph, as usual the credit went to her supervisor Edward C. Pickering. Thanks to Sue French for providing the background information on the discovery of Pickering's Wedge.

Although the Veil Nebula and Pickering's Wedge are considered part of the same deep-sky object, they each have their own characteristics and personality.