The Western Veil Nebula

Caldwell 34, NGC 6960

This is my second attempt at imaging a supernova remnant. The first one, Messier 1, was less than a thousand years old and not really too difficult. However, The Veil Nebula is ten to twenty times older and has expanded so far that it now reaches an astonishing diameter of sixty-five light years, which gives some idea of the energy output from a single star when it goes supernova.

The energy source of a supernova remnant is the enormous speed of the expanding gas (10% light speed) as it crashes through debris in the inter-stellar medium and heats up to millions of °K. You would not want to be living on a planet which was situated within five hundred light years of such a catastrophic event! 🤔

That long streak of gas in the image is actually part of a great arc (or sphere) which has expanded in all directions from the original source of the supernova.

Public domain via

At a distance of 2,400 light years, the Veil Nebula covers an apparent diameter of six Moons, so it is far too large to fit into the field of view of my telescope and the feature image (top) includes just the western part.

It is also an extremely faint object.

I was experiencing some (self-induced) technical difficulties on the night that I took this image, not to mention an on/off cloud cover. So, I only managed a thirty-five minute exposure. It merited much longer, especially as it is a northerly object (in Cygnus) which only rises about twenty-five degrees here at Cosmic Focus Observatory.

I’ll be coming back to the Veil Nebula.

Whilst the electro-magnetic radiation from the originating supernova would have passed us thousands of years ago, the shockwave of the supernova remnant has probably not reached us yet and may do so (somewhat feebly) in a few more thousand years.

I wonder if it will be measurable…

Image exposure:
35 minutes
Image field of view:
48.1 x 48.1 arcminutes
Image date:


The entire Veil Nebula in ultra violet.
Image by NASA/JPL-Caltech – derived from Wikimedia Commons
The Western Veil is far right.

Thanks for reading 🙃

Cosmic Focus Observatory

Telescope:SkyWatcher Esprit 120 mm apochromatic 3-element refractor; 840 mm f/l @ f/7.
Optics:Field flattener; ZWO duo narrowband Ha + [OIII] filter.
Mount & Guiding:SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount.
Imaging camera:ZWO ASI 071 MC cooled.
Location:Cosmic Focus Observatory, 34° South.

Images © Roger Powell
I’m one of the founder members of Macarthur Astronomical Society and current webmaster.


    1. 😵 Stolzy: thanks. The shock wave still has a very long way to go and by the time it reaches us it may have become completely dispersed in the interstellar medium. Life would be quite interesting for future astronomers if it does actually reach us!

      To give you some idea of the field of view of the entire supernova remnant, I have just added an edit showing a wide angle NASA image showing the whole thing, of which my image is just a very small part on the right hand side.


  1. To give an idea of the field of view of the entire supernova remnant, I have just added an EDIT showing a wide angle NASA image of the whole object, of which my image is just a very small part on the right hand side.


  2. Wow, both these images of the Veil Nebula are stunning! I can certainly see where it gets its name. Fascinating also to contemplate just how far a nebula’s power reaches. They’re so pretty to look at from a distance, but definitely not something to wish for close by!

    Liked by 1 person

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