Lambda Centauri Nebula

2021-03-04 IC 2944 C100 R Chick Nebula Stack_19frames_4553s

IC 2944, Caldwell 100

Magnitude:  +4.5Diameter: 8.5 light years.
Apparent size: 75 x 50 arc minDistance: 6,500 light years.
Constellation: CentaurusType: emission nebula


I attempted the Running Chicken Nebula two years and made a hash of it. This one is a bit better. It is dominated in the centre by the very bright foreground star Lambda Centauri (420 light years distant) and surrounded by a huge emission (6,500 light years distant). Hence the nebula is often also referred to as the Lambda Centauri Nebula.

Lambda Centauri (the star) is a Type B star of magnitude +3.1.

It’s a whopper. Compared to the Sun, it is twice as hot; ten times the diameter; and it’s luminous output is 1280 time greater. It has a dim companion star of magnitude +11.5.

……..Bok, Bok, Bok

There are two regions to the Running Chicken Nebula : IC 2944 on which the feature image was centred; and IC2948 which is towards the top. Here is an enlarged cropped version from the top my image:

Bok Globules within the Running Chicken Nebula (Caldwell 100, IC 2948)
Image size: 19.3 x 12.9 arcmin
Image © Roger Powell 2021

Q. What are those black things?

A. They are small dark nebulae, embedded in dense molecular hydrogen nebulae and cosmic dust. It is within such regions, where the surrounding nebula is condensing, that star formation processes begin. Astronomers call them Bok Globules.

According to Wikipedia, Bok Globules “typically have a mass of about 2 to 50 solar masses contained within a region about a light year or so across”.

“They contain molecular hydrogen (H2), carbon oxides and helium and around 1% (by mass) silicate dust”.

Bok globules most commonly result in the formation of double or multiple star systems.

Image details

Feature image date:2021-03-04.
Exposure:75 min (19 x 239.6 sec frames).
Field of View:1.59° x 1.06° (up is 196 degrees E of N).

Where is C100 in the sky?

Location of C100 in Centaurus.
Location of Centaurus constellation in the whole sky map.

If the Astrometry images do not appear it is because the Astrometry website is sometimes off line.

Telescope Details

SkyWatcher Esprit 120 mm apochromatic 3-element refractor; 840 mm f/l @ f/7.
Field flattener; ZWO Duo-band Hα (656nm) and [OIII] (500nm) filter.
SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount; ZWO ASI120 guide camera.
Imaging camera: ZWO ASI 071 MC Pro (CMOS 28.4mm 16 Mpx).
Software: Telescope control: Cartes du Ciel, EQMOD, PHD2, Imaging: SharpCap, Gimp.
Observatory location: 34° South.

Images © Roger Powell

I’m a founder member of Macarthur Astronomical Society


  1. There is an amazing amount of red in that nebula. It is a beautiful image. The Bok globules show up very clearly. I am having trouble seeing a chicken. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quick question . . . How many of the images you take are outside the Milky Way?

      Have you imaged M31?

      . . . I suppose I could do a search . . .


    2. Never mind . . . I looked at your portfolio and found M31.

      Still, percentage-wise, what’s the ratio to in-galaxy versus out-of-galaxy observations you do? Just curious.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fair question. I try to mix them up a bit. I am conscious that I need to improve my technique with galaxies – but my gear is really best suited to larger targets.

        The nearest galaxies are the two Magellanic Clouds, they are too big to fit in my telescope’s FOV. The nearest large galaxies are M31 and M33 which make good targets, although my window of opportunity for them is limited to a very brief time frame per year.

        Globulars are also outside the galaxy of course, so from the 37 most recent posts: solar system (8); galactic (18); intergalactic (7) other (4).

        As for the chicken, that is a rather weak pareidolic description reached by some when the whole nebula appears in the FOV. For the benefit of other readers who don’t know what pareidolia is, I recall you wrote about this effect a few days ago.


        Liked by 1 person

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