Nebula and Cluster in Carina

2020-06-14 NGC 3324 Nebula Stack_44frames_3363s
Designations:       NGC 3324: Gabriela Mistral Nebula
AKA: IC 2599, and Gum 31
NGC 3293: Gem Cluster
Magnitude: +6.7+4.7.
Apparent size:12 arc-min.6 arc-min.
Diameter:26 light years.13 light years.
Distance:7,600 light years.7,600 light years.
Exposure:44 x 76 sec = 56 minutes.
Field of View:1.56° x 1.03°; up is 262 degrees E of N

The Gabriela Mistral Nebula was named after a Chilean poet, diplomat, educator and humanist, who was the first Latin American author to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature. It is a difficult object to image because of the steeply fading gradient of nebulosity, some of it becoming exceedingly dim. It lies beyond the NNW edge of the huge Eta Carinae Nebula, part of which which can be glimpsed upper left.

The brightest star in the nebula is a yellow-white super-giant,V370 Carinae at magnitude +5.5, a pulsating variable star.

Lower right lies the Gem Cluster, a beautiful tight little cluster of fifty to a hundred young and mostly hot blue B type stars but with a prominent seventh magnitude star V361 Carinae, which has a lot going for it.

V361 is a red M-type super-giant, with a diameter listed as a whopping 356.8 times the diameter of the Sun. It is also a pulsating variable star and part of a double star system. It has apparently evolved faster than the other stars.

Telescope Details
SkyWatcher Esprit 120 mm apochromatic 3-element refractor.
840 mm focal length @ f/7 with field flattener.
Baader L-Booster UHC-S light pollution filter 2458276.
SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount.
Camera: ZWO ASI 071 MC Pro (CMOS 28.4mm 16 Mpx)
ZWO ASI120 guide camera, using PHD2 software.

See annotated image from


    1. That’s a great question, Fran. I’ll keep it short.

      Most nebulae (like the above) do not reflect light but actually emit light.

      When regions of huge interstellar gas clouds (nebulae) condense, gravity takes over and new stars are formed deep inside the cloud. The hot new stars emit ultra-violet radiation which excites ( or ionises) the gas atoms in the remaining cloud, causing them to glow at a particular wavelength.

      The wavelength is specific to the type of gas (e.g. hydrogen) and appears as a certain colour, because the wavelength of the radiation determines the colour we see.

      Astronomers use spectroscopy to observe spikes in the radiation spectrum at certain wavelengths which they match with the known characteristics of substances which have been observed in laboratories here on Earth. That’s how they know what stars and nebulae are made of.


      Liked by 2 people

  1. The nebula looks a bit ghostly, but the color stands out well. It’s a beautiful image!

    By the way, I nominated you for a Sunshine Blogger Award. I’m not sure if blogger awards are something you do, but I mainly wanted to show my appreciation for your work.

    Liked by 1 person

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