This is another of those "challenging" objects I unwisely decide to tackle occasionally. This one is worth it, though, I think. Herschel's Ray, also known as the Pencil Nebula, is a beautiful swipe of blue and pink shock waves in the constellation Vela. At 3/4 of a light year in size, it is a reasonably sized object in its own right. However, it is just a tiny portion of the truly gigantic Vela Supernova. That "remnant" is what was left after a very large star cataclysmically exploded as a Type II supernova about 11,000 years ago. The force of this destruction, in turn, created a swath of delicate nebulae across at least 8 degrees (ye gods!) of the southern sky. At its distance (815 ly), this equates to an object about 100 ly across.
The hues in NGC 2736 are due to two different types of nebulae: pink indicates an emission nebula, while blue is the light scattered off a reflection nebula. When we view this object, we are actually looking at the ripples of a sheet of gas almost edge-on.
Dates: 04 February, 2019
R.A.: 09h 03m 23.9s
Dec.: -45° 30' 56.9"
Photo stuff: (subs) 131 frames @ 180s ea.; ISO 800; Canon 60Da on the Meade RCX400 16" f/8; Astronomics 0.7 focal reducer
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