Cat’s Paw Nebula

NGC 6334 in Scorpius

Diameter: 30 light years.Distance: 3,300 light years.Apparent size: 31.0 arc min

Inter-stellar hydrogen gas clouds abound in the galaxy. Ionised by hot bright stars, they emit H-alpha radiation at a wavelength of 656.28nm. The Cat’s Paw Nebula is a complex irregular shaped HII nebula, located over 3000 light years away. Like a great celestial footprint, the cat paw likeness is quite prominent, although it could be any number of other animal types.

Without mentioning “cat’s paw,” I asked my Bride what she thought it resembled. She told me it looked like “a woman walking away, with frilly puffed shoulders and a long flowing dress which she is raising up with one hand”. Deary oh me, that would be a name of astronomical proportions – but I concede the likeness. My Bride is always right.

I’m intrigued by some of the intricate detail in the nebulosity, with unique structures resembling gigantic shock waves, light years in size, in each of the three “toe” prints.

For comparison purposes, the magnitude of the brightest star, top right, is +6.4, which is too dim to see with the naked eye.

Field of View:
77.4′ x 51.6′ (up is 227 degrees E of N)
72 minutes (120 sec x 36 stacked)

Sky Charts

Location of Scorpius in the whole sky (above) and location of Cat’s Paw Nebula near the scorpion’s tail (left).

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

Telescope & Imaging 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) narrowband 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.

Thanks for reading!

Images © Roger Powell

I’m one of the founder members of Macarthur Astronomical Society and current webmaster.


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