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NGC 1555 (2,910 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Hind's Variable Nebula

NGC 1555, Ced 32B, DG 31, Bernes 84, Sh 2-238, [SS62] 16, Magakian 66, VDB 28, T Tau, Burnham's Nebula, Hind's Variable Nebula, GC 839

RA: 04h 21m 56.8s
Dec: +19° 32′ 3″

Con: Taurus
Ch: MSA:185, U2:133, SA:5

Ref: [2003A&A...399..141M], Skiff20080430

(reference key)

Type: reflection nebula

Mag: B=?, V=?

Size: ?
PA: ?


This is the well-known Hind's Variable Nebula, discovered by Hind on October 11 1852, and announced in Astronomische Nachrichten Number 839. d'Arrest observed it four times during 1855-1856 from Leipzig as a pretty bright or pretty faint nebula, about a minute in diameter. Then, in October 1861, it was found to be missing by d'Arrest. (See also the entry for NGC 1554.) It is a reflection nebula, two seconds west and 40" south of the variable star T Tauri, which illuminates it. In 1890, Barnard found an extremely faint nebula 45 seconds from T Tauri at a position angle of 185°. Barnard and Burnham also saw T Tauri within a very small condensed nebula, often seen by Tempel. Barnard, in February and March of 1895, using a 36-inch refractor, found that T Tauri was not, as in 1890, the nucleus of a pretty bright, small nebula; the star was perfectly stellar but involved in a very faint, diffuse, nebulous glow. Struve's nebula, NGC 1554, was not seen, though there was possibility of a slight haziness there. In September 1895, on three nights, no trace of Hind's nebula was seen with the 36-inch refractor. Keeler on two photos taken in December 1899, found three very faint, irregular patches, connected by still fainter nebulosity, South-West and West of T Tauri, but clear of the star, and no trace of Struve's nebula. Not visible to Burnham in January 1907.

Historical observations

Burnham, S.W. (1894)

Publ. Lick Obs., vol 2, 168-181. "Observations of Nebulae with the 36-inch Refractor of the Lick Observatory".

Not long since I found a new double star in the vicinity of Hind's supposed variable nebula, and took occasion, when the measures of the new pair were finished, to examine the place of the nebula with the 36-inch refractor. The atmospheric conditions were always favorable. The distance of the components of the double star referred to is only 0.16'' and therefore it would have been useless to turn the telescope in that direction when the definition was inferior.

The nebula is easily found from the 8.7m star, DM +19°706, which is 15s p. and 4' s. The place of the nebula as given by Dreyer, on the authority of d'Arrest, is identical with that of DM +19°706, the magnitude of which was estiamted by Argelander as 9.4; and this is T Tauri of the variable star catalogues. ..."

Lengthy discussion follows.

Published comments

Cederblad, S. (1946) [VII/231]

Ced 32b (NGC 1555)

Position (1900): RA 4 16.1, Dec + 19 17

Star: 19 706 (variable Mp and V, SpT=Gpe)

Spectrum of nebula: continuous spectrum (inferred from sp.t. of illuminating star)

Classification: Neb associated with mainly one star (which may be multiple) - Fan-shaped object (eg. IC 59)

Size: variable

Notes: "The nebulous region around T Tauri, a = NGC 1554 = GC 5339 = Struve's lost nebula. Disc. O. Struve 1868. Compare (59). b = NGC 1555 = GC 839 = Hind's variable nebula. Comprehending discussion: (59). (63, 75, 92, 114, 124, 152, 153, 156, 212, 216, 406, 460, 486, 491, 548, 550, 578, 600, 631, 746). Disc. Hind 1852. C = T Tauri nebulous. Disc. Burnham 1890 (152). (1, 59, 216)."

Struve & Straka (1962)

Notes on diffuse galactic nebulae.

[SS62] 16

Palomar plate used: R (E-plate print)

Object's name: T Tau

Comments: In a dark lane/cloud, dG5e, (9.6-13.5), T

Dorschner & Gürtler (1963)

Untersuchungen uber Reflexionsnebel.

DG 31

= NGC 1554, NGC 1555, Ced 32, [SS62] 16

Pos (1950.0) 04:19.0, +19:24

Size: 1x1 (blue), 1x1 (red).

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a diffuse nebula.

Bernes, C. (1977)

Bernes, C. (1977) A catalogue of bright nebulosities in opaque dust clouds.

NGC 1554/NGC 1555 =Bernes 84

Magakian T. Yu. (2003)

= DG 31, VdB 28, Bernes 84, N1555, GN 04.18.9, Ced 32, [SS62] 16, Other designations: T Tau, Sh238

Class: CN (cometary nebula)

Photo index

Photo Index by Jim Lucyk: Burnhams V3 p1835.

Modern observations

Walter Scott Houston

Houston notes that this object "is at times to be seen in a 4-inch, but at others has been invisible in a 15-inch refractor."

Birkmann, Mark G. (IAAC)

Observer: Mark G.Birkmann Your skills: Intermediate (some years) Date/time of observation: 11/16/99, early morning Location of site: New Haven, Missouri (Lat ~38, Elev ~700') Site classification: Rural Sky darkness: 5 1-10 Scale (10 best) Seeing: 4 1-10 Seeing Scale (10 best) Moon presence: None - moon not in sky Instrument: 40" f/5 dob Magnification: lowest power 125x Filter(s): OIII, H-beta, Orion Ultrablock Object(s): NGC 1555, Hind's Variable Nebula Category: Reflection nebula. Class: Constellation: Taurus Data: mag ? size 1.0 x 2.0 Position: RA 4:21m 56.4s DEC +19:32' 03"

Description: This is the third time this month I've attempted to observe this object with no luck. This time I almost had myself convinced I was seeing an evenly illuminated diffuse glow around T Tauri with a slight brightening to the north and a small darker area to the north east. But I think it was actually a combination of wishful thinking and glare from T Tauri combined with my astigmatism. I did not try any filters but have recently read where Jay Freeman observed this nebula with a C-14 and Orion Ultrablock filter. Has anyone else had any luck with NGC 1555?



Another ASH member and I tried for well over an hour to see some nebulosity around T Tauri about five years ago using a 17" classical Cassegrain and were completely unsuccessful.

Dave Mitsky

Steve Gottlieb

Hind's variable nebula & Struve's Lost nebula

04 21.8 +19 32

17.5: eastern "lobe" of Hind's variable nebula. See description for N1554.

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "9.4M; 30" diameter (varies); two lobes associated with, and illuminated by irregular variable T TAU (9.4->13M); TOUGH! TRY IT!."

Danie L. Cronje


Danie Cronje, observing with 10x50 binoculars, notes "found only faint star with averted vision (possible T Tauri) Next to brighter star, close by."

Paul Alsing

82-inch at McDonald - Observing Report

[amastro] posting, Sat Nov 25, 2006

82" telescope, McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, USA

f/13.7, 35mm Televue Panoptic (5' fov, 812x)

Unusual shape, but easily seen, it looked like 2 intersecting slashes of nebulosity. Not a barn-burner, but nice nonetheless.

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