NGC 2022

Planetary Nebula

Apparent magnitude: 11.9
Apparent dimensions: 28 arc-seconds
Constellation: Orion
Image exposure:
60 minutes
Image field of view:
9.86 x 9.86 arcmin
Image date:

New Year’s Eve was spent at Cosmic Focus Observatory (i.e. my front driveway), amid the chaotic flashes and sounds of rockets and fire crackers going off at several locations around me. Let’s hope, as we turn the page and move into 2022, that the World can soon learn how to defeat this wretched covid invader once and for all!

We need to look to our scientists to do this, because they are clever people. Our floundering politicians are more concerned about the economy than driving the death rate down. There is a Federal election here in Oz in about three months and they stupidly promised us no more mask mandates and no more lockdowns. Along came the omicron and of course it would look bad if they backflipped and decided to attack the new virus.

Enough! 🤐

I decided to continue with my passion for planetary nebulae and this time selected a smallish nebula in the Orion constellation, NGC 2022, which has no particular common name.

When I first saw the image developing on my laptop monitor, I had the strange déjà vu feeling that I had already imaged this object. I checked and found that it is remarkably similar to another planetary nebula which I recently captured – only four weeks ago – called NGC 1535 (Cleopatra’s Eye).

Both objects are blue, double-shelled, annular, have a star embedded in the nebula (as well as the central star) and are surrounded by an outer halo. Yet I’ve often said that the reason I like planetary nebulae so much is because they are all unique! 😬

NGC 2022 is 8,100 light years distant, considerably more remote than NGC 1535 but is probably a similar evolutionary age. The Wikipedia page includes this very interesting description:

A planetary nebula with a wind-compressed inner shell and a more nebulous second shell. The linear radius of the inner shell is estimated at 0.326 ± 0.039 ly. It is expanding with a velocity of 56±3 km/s.

The second shell is nearly circular and is expanding more slowly than the inner. The mass of the ionized elements in the planetary nebula is 0.19 M☉, or 19% of the Sun’s mass. A faint outer halo consists of the remains of material ejected during the central star’s asymptotic giant branch stage.

NGC 2022 nebula lies 11° away from the Galactic Plane, which position suggests it was formed from a low-mass star. The elemental abundances are similar to those in the Sun, although carbon is about 50% higher and sulphur is a factor of two lower.

The central star of this nebula has a visual magnitude of 15.92, a temperature of 122,000ºK, and is radiating 852 times the luminosity of the Sun from a photosphere that has only 6.55% of the Sun’s radius.

I hope you like it and I hope you have a safe new year!

Images © Roger Powell

Telescope:Meade LX-90 200mm Schmidt-Cassegrain (deforked);
2000 mm f/l @ f/10 .
Optics:Astronomik light pollution filter.
Mount:SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount.
Imaging camera:ZWO ASI 071 MC cooled.

The Blind Astronomer

Cosmic Focus Observatory

34° South

Above us only sky….



  1. Yes; I thought you were just reusing a recent shot for one of your rants (insert upsidedown smilie here).

    Happy New Year, and may the street light occasionally burn out.


  2. When I first saw the image at the top, I thought you were going to talk more about Cleopatra’s Eye. Well, no you weren’t. 🙂

    Speaking of streetlights…we returned in mid-Dec from a road trip of 2 weeks. That first night back I noticed a funny color of light in the street. The lamp had been replaced with an LED version.


    1. I didn’t do my homework properly. I picked this planetary nebula from a reference book; but it only had an over-exposed blob in the image, so I didn’t recognise the similarity to Cleopatra’s Eye. If I had I would have passed it by until next year.

      The LEDs are a different colour from mercury lamps, which here in Oz are mandated to be phased out by 2025 as per the International Minamata Convention on Mercury. This may be why they replaced your street light.

      LEDs are brighter and more efficient, as you would already know, so I hope they gave you a fitting which shields the light from emitting the dreadful sideways glare which they imposed on me.


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