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Wizard Nebula

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The Wizard Nebula is an emission nebula that surrounds the open star cluster NGC 7380 in the constellation Cepheus. The nebula is known for its unique shape, resembling the appearance of a medieval sorcerer. The active star forming region lies at a distance of 7,200 light years from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 7.2. It has a radius of 100 light years and occupies 25 arc minutes of the apparent sky. It has the designation Sh2-142 in the Sharpless catalog of H II regions.

ngc 7380,emission nebula

The Wizard Nebula (NGC 7380) was created with Ha, OIII, and SII filters using the Hubble Palette. Image: Wikimedia Commons/Chuck Ayoub

The open cluster NGC 7380 was discovered by the German astronomer Caroline Herschel in 1787. Her brother William Herschel included it in his catalogue as H VIII.77. The estimated age of the cluster is 4 million years.

Wizard Nebula,NGC 7380

This picture of the open star cluster NGC 7380 is a mosaic of images from the WISE mission spanning an area on the sky of about 5 times the size of the full Moon. NGC 7380 is located in the constellation Cepheus about 7,000 light-years from Earth within the Milky Way Galaxy. The star cluster is embedded in a nebula, sometimes called the Wizard Nebula, which spans some 110 light-years. The stars of NGC 7380 have emerged from this star forming region in the last 5 million years or so, making it a relatively young cluster. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE TEam

The radiation and stellar winds of the cluster’s young stars are responsible for creating the nebula’s shape. The ultraviolet light from the luminous type O and B stars formed within the molecular cloud ionizes the nebula’s hydrogen, which in turn re-emits light in the red part of the spectrum. While the nebula will dissipate within a few million years, some of the stars formed within it will likely outlive our Sun. Before it disappears, the nebula will produce many more stars.

wizard nebula

Despite being fairly large, the Wizard Nebula is a challenging object to observe and requires an OIII filter and exceptionally clear, dark skies. It can be seen in a small telescope. Visually, the nebula’s size is comparable to that of the Moon.

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Wizard Nebula location, image: Wikimedia Commons/Roberto Mura

The Wizard Nebula lies in the same region of the sky as the Iris Nebula (NGC 7023), Cave Nebula (Sharpless 155), the star forming region NGC 7822, Elephant’s Trunk Nebula (IC 1396A), the H II region Sharpless 132, sometimes known as the Fish Nebula, and the emission and reflection nebula NGC 7538 in Cepheus, and is also relatively close to the famous Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635) in the neighbouring Cassiopeia.

wizard nebula,bubble nebula,fish nebula, elephant's trunk nebula

The Bubble Nebula, Wizard Nebula, Elephant’s Trunk Nebula and Fish Nebula, image: Wikisky

Wizard Nebula – Sh2-142

Constellation: Cepheus
Right ascension: 22h 47.0m
Declination: 58° 06′
Apparent size: 25′
Apparent magnitude: 7.2
Radius: 100 light years
Distance: 7,200 light years
Designations: NGC 7380, Sh2-142