The North American Nebula and Pelican Nebula

The North American Nebula (NGC 7000), named for its resemblence to the North American Continent here on Earth, is located in the constellation of Cygnus. Most of the nebulosity shown here is in the foreground (superimposed) of the band of the Milky Way. The stars are very dense towards this spiral arm and where the dust and gas thins, their numbers are plain to see.

This four frame mosaic subtends more than 4 degrees of the sky. You could easily fit over 30 Moons in this picture! The very bright star on the right of the frame is Deneb, and surprisingly it is not associated with the nebula as it is well over 1,500 light years away. Indeed, if Deneb were 50 times closer (30 light years, I am insinuating absolute magnitude) it would be brighter than Venus in the sky and rival the moon! (-7.2 in magnitude).

But the wonderfully glowing clouds shown here are closer, and only until recently the star (or stars) responsible for making them glow has been a mystery. In the fall of 2004 two astronomers, Fernando Comeron and Anna Pasquali, published a paper that seems to identify this secretive star. The star is hidden behind thick clouds of dust that attenuate its light. By observing in the infrared and looking for stars that are intrinisically hot and bright (OB)- only one seemed to fit the shoe! Click HERE to the same high-resolution image you get when you click on the image below... but with an arrow indicating this stealthy star. Look just off the coast of "Florida" in the Atlantic Ocean. (between NA and the Pelican nebula)

Click on image for larger version.


76mm Televue (480mm f/6.3 refractor)
SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

L R G B color production was used to create this image.

Luminance = 0 minutes (synthetic) binned 1x1
Red = 20 minutes binned 1x1
Green = 20 minutes binned 1x1
Blue = 20 minutes binned 1x1

  • The top image is a four frame mosaic and the exposure times above are for each frame.
  • Thanks to Ann Sidbrant for making me aware of the recent work concerning the ionization source of NGC 7000.
  • The bottom image (grayscale) is a two hour narrowband H-alpha (4.5nm Custom Scientific) exposure of a portion of the NA nebula as well as the Pelican nebula on the right side of the frame. This image was taken as a test on the full moon in May 2004.
  • Minimum credit line: Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF

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    Updated: 06/08/2005