Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The North America Nebula

Explanation: Here's a familiar shape in an unfamiliar location! This emission nebula is famous partly because it resembles Earth's North American Continent. To the right of the North America Nebula is a less luminous Pelican Nebula. Let's be grateful that pelicans aren't really that large! The two emission nebula are located about 1500 light years away and are separated by a dark absorption cloud. The nebulae can be seen without a telescope from a dark location. Look for a small nebular patch north-east of Deneb in the constellation of Cygnus. It is still unknown which star or stars ionize the red-glowing hydrogen gas.

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