Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Space Can Be Spooky

An appropriate Halloween deep sky photo, this is a nebula cataloged as IC63 (for Index Catalog), seen in the direction of the north circumpolar constellation Cassiopeia.

The cloud looks like a ghost rising out of a foggy patch.  I see a head facing left, perhaps with a ridged helmet, and shoulders, and can follow it down to a body.  This is a portion of an image copyright Ken Crawford (Rancho Del Sol Obs.) and featured on the Astronomy Photo of the Day for the 26th.  To borrow from the description at APOD:
About 600 light-years distant, the clouds aren't actually ghosts, but they are slowly disappearing under the influence of energetic radiation from hot,luminous star gamma Cas. Gamma Cas is physically located only 3 to 4 light-years from the nebulae, just off the top right edge of the frame. Slightly closer to gamma Cas, IC 63 is dominated by red H-alpha light emitted as hydrogen atoms ionized by the star's ultraviolet radiation recombine with electrons. ... 
This was cropped from a larger photo at the APOD link. In that photo, the field of view spans about 1 degree or 10 light-years at the estimated distance of the field of view.  That would make this cropped view around 1/2 degree.


  1. You see clouds of gas 600 years distant in the photo. I see a huge space alien ghost that will arrive here in around 600 years to feast on the brains of humans. It's kind of an ink blot test.

  2. Looks like one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse...only it looks like he's riding a camel.

    1. Hmm. Not sure I see a camel. A horse with its head down?

      Wait... is that a beak? Maybe the horseman of the apocalypse is riding a giant kiwi bird!

    2. Actually, I was going to write exactly that, but ended up thinking it was too ridiculous a vision!