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DCld 301.0-08.6 (9,516 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Black Python

DCld 301.0-08.6, Black Python, Dark Doodad

RA: 12h 27m 31s
Dec: −71° 25′ 12″

Con: Musca
Ch: MSA:1013, U2:450, SA:25

Ref: [1986A&AS...63...27H]

(reference key)

Type: dark nebula

Mag: –

Size: 150′ x 12′
PA: ?

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Photos  (3)

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A complex of dark nebulae in Musca, consisting of (in order of decreasing angular area, as measured by Hartley, M. et al. (1986) A catalogue of southern dark clouds [1986A+AS...63...27H]): DCld301.0-08.6, DCld301.6-07.8, DCld301.4-07.9, and perhaps DCld301.5-07.7.

Published comments

Shapley, H. (1930)

Shapley, H. (1930) "Star Clusters" Harvard Obs. Monographs No. 2.

p 22: There are a few individual globular clusters, NGC 4372, NGC 6144 and NGC 6569 that are in or near recognized dark or luminous nebulae. Of these, the first appears to be dimmed by one of the long dark streamers from the Coal Sack; "

Hartley, M. et al. (1986)

Remarks: "Complex region. Sandqvist 141, Sandqvist 143, Sandqvist 145."

Reference: A catalogue of southern dark clouds [1986A+AS...63...27H]

Modern observations

Dennis di Cicco (1986)

Sky and Telescope, October 1986, pp.344-347

This unusual dark nebula was christened by members of a Sky & Telescope Comet Halley expedition to Australia in 1986. (October 1986 issue, pp 344- 347) At the north end of this long, dark rift lies Alpha Muscae. From there, the nebula snakes south and west, ending near the globular cluster NGC 4372 to its east. Although visible in binoculars, it was not included in the list of prominent dark nebulae in Volume 2 of Sky Catalogue 2000.0 Easily seen in binoculars, Dennis di Cicco of Sky and Telescope says "it stands out against the Milky Way nearly as well visually as it does photographically"

Did John Herschel record the 'Dark Doodad'? His description for NGC 4372, the globular at the southern tip of the Doodad, seems to indicate this; he says the cluster is "Almost perfectly insulated in a very large space almost entirely devoid of stars, being the smaller and southern lacuna below the great 'coal sack'."

Colin Henshaw (1992)

Webb Soc. Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 10, July 1992

Colin Henshaw (Maunatlala, Botswana), observing with 12x40 binoculars, writes in The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 10, July 1992: "I enclose a sketch of some dark nebulosity I observed in Musca. An elongated streak of nebulosity was seen, several years ago, between Alpha and Gamma Muscae, and someone commented on it a few years ago in Sky & Telescope. I made a rough sketch on April 7th (1991) , and a more detailed sketch on April 13th. Another less conspicuous dark nebula exists between Alpha and Delta Muscae; this is marginally darker at the following end. Also visible was NGC 4833, and .. south preceding Gamma [the globular cluster NGC 4372]. The latter object seemed fan-shaped, spreading out from a sixth magnitude star North preceding. To the naked eye, the boundary of the Milky Way seems to sweep Delta and Gamma Muscae, then out again just South of Alpha. This could possibly be a naked-eye manifestation of the darker, preceding nebula between Alpha and Gamma Muscae."

A round glow with a bright star near the centre and a dark lane running east-west through the northern section. A broad, faint extension runs ENE. Many faint stars within the field, even with an O III filter in place. (21-inch f/20, x140)."

[AMASTRO] discussion

Kent Wallace (2005)

From: Kent Wallace

Date: Thu May 5, 2005 11:54 pm

Subject: The Dark Doodad

While in Australia this year I came across a fun object called the Dark Doodad on chart 209 of the latest edition of Uranometria. It is an elongated dark nebula in Musca which spans about 3 degrees and can be seen in 7x50 binoculars. On the SE edge of it is a nice little globular cluster NGC 4372.

In my 20" f/5.0 scope using a 32 mm 2" eyepiece at 79X, I was able to follow it from one end to the other, starting at NGC 4372 at the southern end. It had a faint milky appearance and was easy to see.

For those lucky folks that are down under it is definitely a good object to try.

Alan Whitman (2005)

From: Alan Whitman

Date: Mon May 9, 2005 7:48 pm

Subject: Re: The Dark Doodad

Getting more specific than "a name given to this object some years ago by Sky & Telescope magazine", the name was invented by senior editor Dennis di Cicco (according to a private email some years ago). The Dark Doodad is one of my favourite dark nebulae. It is one of the very few dark nebulae whose visual appearance in a telescope precisely matches the boundaries plotted in the Millenium Star Atlas.

Contemporary observations

Auke Slotegraaf

27 January, 1993

27 January, 1993 23:30 11x80 binoc's, Die Boord, NGC 4372 visible only with averted as a faint presence. M44 easy with naked eye. Doodad not seen at all.


27/03/93: 1500 metre plateau of the SAAO observing site, Sutherland. M44 very easy naked eye, M41 very easy naked eye. 11x80 binoculars show the Doodad very easily, appearing to be connected by a less-distinct, irregular stream to the Coalsack.


1997-03-24, Monday. Jonkershoek. 11x80 tripod. Full Moon. Not found. Sky milky.

Carol Botha

2007 April 14, 10:10 UT

2007 April 14


10x50 binoculars

Conditions: Very slight haze but Milky Way clearly visible

Dark Nebula in Musca. I was drawn to the name of this object but only succeeded in finding it from Sutherland. An exciting moment when sighting the object through binoculars. The nebula is well-defined , cigar shaped and almost looks like tight parallel brush strokes that stretch from north -east, just below the Musca to south-west , north of and beyond?brightest star in the field, alpha gamma Musca , extending beyond the binoculars field of view. To the south are a pair of close stars, one which I later identified as delta Musca. Just north-east of delta Musca lies a faint globular cluster NGC 4833.

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