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NGC 281 (586 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Pacman Nebula

NGC 281, IC 11, Ced 3, LBN 616, Sh 2-184, [GS55] 8, Pacman Nebula

RA: 00h 52m 53.8s
Dec: +56° 37′ 29″

Con: Cassiopeia
Ch: MSA:65, U2:36, SA:1

Ref: SIMBAD, Collinder (1931), Corwin (2004)

(reference key)

Type: bright nebula (HII region)

Mag: B=?, V=?

Size: ?
PA: ?

History and Accurate Positions for the NGC/IC Objects (Corwin 2004)

NGC 281 = IC 11, which see. Also see IC 1590.

Historical observations

Barnard, E.E. (1884)

See New nebulae - Small black hole in the milky way - Duplicity of beta-1 Capricorni. Astron. Nachrichten, 108, 369-372.

NGC/IC Dreyer (1888, 1895, 1908)

It was discovered by E. E. Barnard with a 6-inch refractor at Nashville, Tennessee. He described it as being "faint, very large, diffused, small triple star on N.p. edge."

This combination star cluster and nebula lies 1.7 degrees east of Alpha Cassiopeiae. NGC 2000 gives the size as 35', which is the size of the nebulosity. The open cluster itself is only 4'.

Webb, T.W. (1893)

According to Webb's, the sky around Burnham 1, as seen with a 8-inch, is "clearly bright", and in a 16-inch the nebula is a "large, easy object."

Published comments

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

Ced 3 (NGC 281)

Position (1900): RA 0 47.4, Dec + 56 3

Star: 55 191 (Mp=7.7, V=7.9, SpT=O6)

Spectrum of nebula: emission spectrum (observed)

Classification: Neb associated with mainly one star (which may be multiple) - star surrounded by a neb envelope with conspicuous structure (eg. IC 5146)

Size: 27'x23'

Notes: "NGC 281. Disc. Barnard 1881 (43). FA 182, 183. (114, 194, 209, 216, 304, 366, 482, 486, 615 Pl 22, 630 Pl 20 Pl 26, 715). R. +55 191 = HD 5005."

Burnham's Celestial Handbook

Burnham calls it a faint, very large irregular nebulosity, 23' x 27' in size, including a 8.5 mag O5e star as well as the 5-component multiple star Burnham 1, ADS 719 (8th mag primary, 10, 9, 9.5, 12.5; 1.4, 3.8, 8.9, 15.7; 82 , 33 , 194 , 332 ; values for 1936). The open cluster involved is IC 1590. Also known as Collinder 8, it is sparse, and about 4' across with an integrated magnitude of 7. With a 6" reflector at 95x, occassional glimmers of scattered faint stars are seen, and also what seems like a little extra light among them. The latter may be the nebula NGC 281, a great mottled cloud of glowing hydrogen.

Sanford (1989) Observing the Constellations

Sanford calls it a "large, triangular-shaped nebulous cloud, with a dark intrusion on the left [?] side. It is fairly bright in an 8-inch, and a nebular filter helps show the boundaries more sharply. This object photographs easily and appears bright red on colour film."

Lynds, B.T. (1965)

(Astrophysical Journal Supplement, No 105, 1965) in her Catalogue of Bright Nebulae notes that this nebula is very bright, more prominent on the red POSS plate and has a maximum size of 35' x 30'. A photograph of the cluster appeared in the Sky&Telescope, December 1988, p 623.

Doig, P. (1926)

"A Catalogue of Estimated Parallaxes of 112 Nebulae, Open clusters and Star Groups", Vol 36 (4), p 107-115.

"Faint diffuse nebulosity, with triple star n.p. edge."

Photo index

Photo Index by Jim Lucyk: Sky&Tel. 12/87 p683, Sky&Tel. 12/88 p623, Deep Sky #7 Su84 p24, Deep Sky #17 Wi86 p14, Burnhams V1 p525, Vehrenberg's Atlas of Galactic Neb-1 p8.

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 7.5 mag open cluster.

Modern observations

Neilson, David (1992)

Neilson (Oakland, California, USA), writes in The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 10, July 1992: "Very faint but remarkable. A large, misty region surrounding a fine quintuplet star. Numerous concentrations and faint suggestions of bays and ragged edges. (12.8-inch)." Edmund S. Barker, Section Director, comments: "Has anyone yet observed any indication of the obscuring bar cutting into the western edge of the emission and just south of the centre - a job for nebular filters?."

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes "7.8M; 27'x 23' extent; very large and faint emission nebula; use N-filter and wide field; see photo at Burnhams Celestial Handbook-I-525; includes multiple star Burnham-1 (1.4" separation (A-B) @ PA 082; 7.8-9.8M); C = 8.8M, 3.8" distant @ PA 133; D = 9.3M, 8.9" distant @ PA 194)."

Brian Skiff

& I1590

WDS: ADS 719 = BD+55 191 = HD 5005.

Sharpless: a pair (13"; pa310) lies 1' SW.

S&T, Dec1969, p430 has multiple * info.

Henning+ 1994 A&A288, 282 has photom in fld: pair SW V=11.3,12.1; m11 *

N V=10.77.

7cm - lg mod f neb @ 30x mod well enhanced by UHC filter, [OIII] seems less effective. at 50x cen trap is res into two *s (fntr SW), but br * seems elong SE-NW. neb is centered E of cen *, three-quarters pie shape evident. BS, 26Nov1992, Anderson Mesa.

8cm - fairly losfcbr. no concen of *s in area. BS, 15Sep1982, Anderson Mesa.

15cm - 38x gives best view. 10'-12' diam, round. four *s seen. cen * is seen as triple @ 84x.

- tiny triangle of *s in mod f lg neb vis w/o filts @ 50x. neb is 30' diam overall is irreg in shape: approx semicirc in N half, but only a fin in S half, blocked out by dk wedge in SW quad. triangle lies nr edge of dk wedge where edge goes E-W. UHC gives mod enhancement, [OIII] wkr; DS not vgood. immed E of triangle is dk lane in neb running ~N-S. 195x shows close comp to brtst triangle *, making trapezium. 15 *s total to radius of m11 * 1' N. zero concen of *s across neb except at very center around trap. BS, 26Sep1990, Anderson Mesa.

25cm - not very br, 15' diam.

30cm - in assoc w/5" pair in pa135. ten *s in 2' area. SW 1'.5 is 10" pair, m11.5. not much of a cl.

- some neb vis around cen triplet, extending 1'.5 to pair SW. also *s to E appear nebulous w/f patch of light 3'.5 E of trio. overall 6' diam with more patches SE.

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)

Although this bright nebula itself is way too big for the 5 arc- minute FOV, the targets here were really the Bok globule near the middle and the nearby HD 5005 trapezium-like multiple star. The Bok globule was clearly visible, but not nearly as contrasty as I thought it would be. The multiple star was obvious, and made for a very pretty picture. At 812X the 1.6" AB pair was easily split. Of course, there was a lot of nebulosity coursing through the whole area.

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