NGC 1973, NGC 1975 and NGC 1977
|Apparent size:||10 x 5 arc min.|
|Diameter:||5.1 light years.|
|Distance:||1800 light years.|
The Running Man Nebula is situated right next to the Orion Nebula, M42, (the pinkish stuff at the bottom) and so it often gets simply combined with M42 by amateur astronomers or is completely neglected. I’ve previously done both those things too, so this time I decided to image it in its own right.
Here’s a DSLR image I took a long time ago with both of them together:
Like M42/M43, the Running Man has more than one designation. The three NGC numbers relate to illuminated sections of the same cloud of gas. Here in Australia we only call it the Running Man because it seems silly to call it three NGC numbers, which aren’t even consecutive – and it really does look like a running man:
Can you see the running man? If not, I’m interested to know what shape the nebula might seem to represent to you.
For some reason, my trusted Sky Safari Pro app does not mention the name Running Nebula, nor do two sky manuals in my possession. Wikipedia does – on a page called Sh2-279. That’s an easy to remember name that rolls of the tongue!
Don’t get me started on astronomical object names. The logic to them is known only to members of a secret society known as the IAU.
Today I noticed a media release that 690 million astronomical objects had been catalogued so far by the Dark Energy Survey (DES). 690 million objects each with unique identification numbers! I can’t wait to find out what the numbers are.
Suffice to say that many objects with weird and long “names” are listed in multiple catalogues and so have multiple “names” to confuse us.
Back to the Running Man Nebula. Unlike the adjacent M42, it is a reflection nebula – visible only by reflected light from nearby stars. How do we know that, you ask? Because astronomers measure the light spectrum, which shows emissions across the full range, similar to stars. The other type of nebula is called an emission nebula and they only shine at the specific wavelengths of atoms in the nebula, such as hydrogen, helium and oxygen.
I’m annoyed at the satellite trail – and amazingly I caught another on the following night. They are the first ones I’ve had for two years; and it means I’ve got to start tweaking my software a bit to avoid capturing them.
Thanks for reading this far!
|Feature image date:||2021-01-10|
|Exposure:||120 minutes (86 second sub-frames x 84).|
|Field of View:||Cropped to 47.6 x 47.6 arcmin. Up is 337° E of N|
Here’s an all-sky image, generated for me by Astrometry.net, showing where the object is located:
Here’s a constellation view, generated for me by Astrometry.net, showing where the object is located in the constellation:
Here is a low resolution annotated image of the object, also generated for me by Astrometry.net:
If these images do not appear, it is because the Astrometry.net server has gone off-line.
|SkyWatcher Esprit 120 mm apochromatic 3-element refractor; 840 mm f/l @ f/7.|
|Field flattener; no filter.|
|SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount; ZWO ASI120 guide camera.|
|Imaging camera: ZWO ASI 071 MC Pro (CMOS 28.4mm 16 Mpx).|
|Software: EQMOD, PHD2, SharpCap, Gimp.|
|Observatory location: 34° South.|
Images © Roger Powell
I’m a founder member of Macarthur Astronomical Society