The Vela – Puppis - Rose City Astronomers

For those southern observers who like to identify and study bright emission and reflection nebulae, late March and April
is a good time to observe in detail an interesting region in the sky where different nebulae ranging from easy-to-see to the
challenging are visible. Some nebulae are too faint to be observed through an 8-inch telescope however.
In the Vela-Puppis-Canis Major Region, is found a famous complex, the Gum Nebula. It is a huge HII region, or maybe
an old supernova remnant according to some researchers.
In this article I have included reports and comments about my experience observing this region from Mendoza (Latitude
33S, Longitude 69W ) using an 8-inch reflector telescope.
The Vela – Puppis – Canis Major region in the Southern Sky
have chosen a 50 degree wide region of the constellations centered on Right Ascension 8 hours and Declination –35
degrees. From this part of the planet, this zone is at the zenith at 10 pm local time in middle March, so the Vela-PuppisCanis Major area is very high in the sky. That is very important to try to observe nebulae in the best conditions.
The map shows the area of the several nebulae included in the observing program.
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Nebulae (continued from page 7)
The observing sites
Four nights were needed to complete this observing program. The first night to observe this part of the sky was Sunday,
March 30th. At this time of the year we are in the beginning of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, but temperatures
are still good to observe from a site not too far from the city.
The site chosen to observe the group of nebulae was Jocoli, a place situated at about 43 miles North to Mendoza. The
limiting visual magnitude that night was 6.2, and in my opinion not bad for an observing site relatively close to Mendoza.
Canis Major Region
I began observing a group of nebulae and
star clusters to the East of Canis Major. The
Seagull Nebula ( IC 2177) was my first target.
I first observed the North end of this long
nebulae, and in my opinion, the more interesting region of this huge object because
some open clusters and an interesting star
field are visible there.
Using low magnifications (42x) you can see a
rich star field with bright and faint stars.
Also, three open clusters are clearly visible in
the same field: NGC 2335, NGC 2343 and
Collinder 465 (Cr 465).
NGC 2343 is a 6.7 magnitude open cluster.
It looks very compact and it is the brighter
cluster in the field. An interesting S-shaped
chain of faint stars (magnitude 11) crosses
the cluster, whose Trumpler classification is
NGC 2335 looks fainter and a little bigger
than NGC 2343. However, it is clearly visible and seemingly with nebulosity ( its
Trumpler classification is III,3,m,n where n
indicates nebulosity). The magnitude is 7.2
Between NGC 2343 and the star V569
Monocerotis, the brighter star in the field
with visual magnitude 6.5, lie two other
open clusters: Collinder 465 and Collinder
466, in a very rich area with several faint
stars situated in the border of IC 2177.
A conspicuous dark lane is also visible, situated between Collinder 465 and the star
V569 Monocerotis, toward the open cluster
NGC 2335.
To the East, at about 24 arc minutes, there
exists an emission and reflection nebula
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(Continued from page 8)
catalogued as Gum 1. This object is not visible when you try to observe it with an 8” telescope without a nebular filter
(perhaps it would be interesting to try to observe it under a darker sky!). Three bright stars are visible in the middle of the
eyepiece field, but nothing obvious is visible around the star HD 53367 ( magnitude 7) where this nebula lies, according
with sky charts and catalogues.
Observing again Gum 1 with the same magnification but this time using an UHC filter, the nebula is barely visible, and
averted vision is necessary. It looks like a very faint nebulosity. I had a similar view using 78x and UHC filter.
The elusive nebula NGC 2327
Moving South we found a very small reflection and also an HII region
situated in a rich starry field. Using low magnifications, NGC 2327 is not
obvious at all. A big stream of stars is visible following the nebula IC
Observing the field carefully and using the star configuration as a guide
( the stars within red circle), in the position where NGC 2327 is situated,
an object with stellar appearance is visible. At 106x with UHC filter this
object looks almost stellar with a small nebulosity surrounding it. Is it
NGC 2327?
Finally I moved my telescope to the South end of Seagull Nebula. This is
also a very impressive field. Several stars and interesting stellar chains are
visible here. To the right side of the eyepiece field a beautiful crown of 5
stars is clearly noted.
Cederblad 90 (Ced 90) is situated in the south end of the Seagull Nebula. In that region, and with low magnifications, a small region embedded
in nebulosity came to view, also some dark structures were visible to the
South in the same eyepiece field. Bright but faint nebulosity surrounds the star HD 53623 and it is necessary to use
averted vision. Using a nebular filter (UHC for example) Ced 90 looks a little bigger, embedding the faint stars situated to
the left. I had a better view of this characteristics using a little higher magnifications (53x).
The Thor´s Helmet nebula (NGC 2359)
A very beautiful diffuse nebula lies at about 4 degrees from the star
Gamma Canis Majoris (magnitude 4.1). It is NGC 2359, a striking
nebula. It is clearly visible even without filter and you can identify
some of the shape showed in the picture to the right. With 42x NGC
2359, also known as the “Duck Nebula”, is easily visible as smooth
nebulosity in a rich starry field. An awesome view is reached when
you put on an UHC filter. A fainter filament (indicated with number
2 in the picture) is visible toward a place where another nebula (IC
468) is situated. In this zone is an extremely faint nebulosity barely
With 53x and a UHC filter, the filament is again observed and the
brighter zone ( number 1 in the picture) is visible very well. Moreover, a narrow dark lane seems to cross the nebula in its central part.
Using higher magnifications, for example 106x, some stars are visible
in the brighter part.
After the observation of NGC 2359 I moved the telescope view near the star Tau Canis Majoris where a small nebula
(15´x 15´) lies: vdB 96. When the observation was made of this nebula its altitude was 45° above west horizon.
The nebula was not visible at all even using an UHC filter, I think maybe it is necessary for a bigger telescope or a darker
sky ( and a higher altitude?) to see something.
To Be Continued in the July 2008 issue of the Rosette Gazette...
©Copyright 2008 The Rose City Astronomers All Rights Reserved.
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Part 2 of 2 Continued from the June 2008 Rosette Gazette.
The second observing night was Saturday April 5, from a different observing site, a nearby one called Canota, at 1,400
meters above see level. That night the sky was very clear so I decided to continue observing some nebulae in Canis Major
and Puppis.
An interesting nebulae named Sh2-301 (also Gum 5) is found at about 3.2 degrees from the star Gamma Canis Majoris. I
had a chance to observe this nebula through a 16-inch telescope. It was clearly visible using an OIII filter. To the East of
this nebula is visible a line of three bright stars. Observing this nebula with 75x it looks like a round and smooth
nebulosity with some faint stars within it. Averted vision helps a lot. A prominent bright lane of nebulosity is visible
emerging from the main part, reaching and surrounding the star HD 54957 of magnitude 7.4.
Nebulosity is also visible around the star HD 54977 of magnitude 8.1.
Puppis Region
In the observing program there are four (4) bright nebulae and two (2) clusters with nebulosity that lie in this
constellation. I began with a close pair of nebulae: Sh2-302 & vdB 97 at almost 3degrees from the very well known
open cluster Messier 47. I tried to observe it at 42x and 78x with the UHC filter as help but no nebulosity was visible in
the eyepiece field. On Thursday May,1 I had another chance to continue with this observing program. The observing site
was again Canota.
NGC 2467
Situated in the northern part of Puppis, close to the star omicron Puppis (magnitude 4.5) you find an excellent object.
Actually it is an open cluster with nebulosity. First, I observed it using 42 magnifications and even without a filter the
nebula was clearly visible. The nebula looks round and a relatively bright star is visible near its center. The surrounding
star field is very rich with a lot of faint stars forming interesting groups and shapes, and also some brighter stars. The
UHC filter works very well to see this nebula. It looks more contrasted and other faint nebulae structures are visible to
the left, where the brighter stars in the field are situated. Also, some dark structures are visible in the eyepiece field.
With 106x the nebula looks wider and some faint stars are visible within the nebula. Using a nebular filter, NGC 2467
looks smooth. It reminds me a little bit of the planetary nebula NGC 1514 in Taurus.
NGC 2579, a challenging object
The observation of this small nebula (see DSS image in next page) or cluster with nebulosity according to some sources,
was one of the most challenging and interesting times of this observing program. When I pointed my 8-inch telescope to
that area using low magnifications I thought, “Well, nothing obvious there”. I checked my charts and eyepiece fields and at
first I could identified a sort of spiral-shaped asterism (see picture in next page). Then I focused my attention on the star
TYC 7134-2023-1 (visual magnitude 10.2) because, according to the DSS image and detailed charts, the nebula should be
Using this time higher magnifications (106x), NGC 2579 came to view even without a nebular filter. The nebula is
visible, perfectly great!. It looks like a very small, round and smooth hazy patch very close to the star TYC 7134-2023-1.
With the help of the UHC filter the nebula looks a little brighter and bigger. With this filter you can see the nebula
surrounding the bright star TYC 7134-2023-1. With averted vision a small bright spot ( a star?) is visible within the
nebula. Observing the nebula again with 213x the bright point in the nebula is more obvious ( especially with averted
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Southern Nebulae
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As soon as I returned home I looked for more detailed information on NGC 2579. I found an interesting paper recently
published (July 2007) in the Cornell University e-library ( The scientific team point out that this object is
an HII region with a small companion, a ringed nebula ( 40”x50” in size) named ESO 370-9 ( visible lower left in the
DSS image). According to this paper there have been identification problems with NGC 2579. Despite its description as
a “double star in a pretty small nebula” and sufficiently precise coordinates in the NGC, it has been misclassified with
other nearby objects. It has been misclassified as a reflection nebula in the SIMBAD database and it is identified as a
planetary nebula in the Strasbourg-ESO Catalogue of Galactic Planetary Nebulae.
The red spot in the picture indicates the position of NGC 2579. With red lines I indicate the spiral-shape or
question mark-shape asterism I used as a guide to find that nebula.
Vela Region
Some bright nebulae and a famous supernova remnant are found in the west part
of this southern constellation.
For this latitude, this constellation reaches about 75 degrees of altitude early in the
night during late March so that date is the best moment to explore that region.
Part of the famous Gum nebula lies in this constellation. Discovered by Collin S.
Gum, this huge and almost circular object with an angular size of 36 degrees is possibly an HII region, but its nature remains unclear.
The first target I observed was NGC 2626, part of the Gum Nebula complex.
Through an 8-inch telescope with low magnification this nebula looks faint in an
interesting star field. In the center of the nebula a star is clearly visible. I think
maybe that nebula looks faint because it is situated in the Milky Way path (almost 0
degrees of galactic latitude) and the background sky does not looks very dark, so the
contrast is not the best. I tried to see it with higher magnifications and the UHC filter but I had a bad view. I read a report by the observer Steve Coe (Saguaro Astronomy Club) where he also claims that UHC does not help much on this
nebula. With even higher magnifications, but without filter, the nebula looks a little better, with a slightly elongated shape
and smooth appearance.
Gum 15 is situated nearly 2 degrees East of NGC 2626. The red circles on the picture above indicate zones where I
©Copyright 2008 The Rose City Astronomers All Rights Reserved.
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Southern Nebulae
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could see very faint nebulosity , getting a better view using an UHC filter. Lower on the eyepiece field the open cluster
Collinder 197 is visible, embedded in a very faint nebulosity.
Then I moved my telescope 1.5 degree from Gum 15 to try to observe the wide nebula Gum 17. It is a very big nebula
(about 1.3 degree) so it is necessary to use wide fields ( low magnifications) to observe it. Some nebulosity is visible
around the brightest star in the field (HD 75759, magnitude 6). Maybe the most prominent feature in this area is the dark
nebula SL4 (see picture below) situated in the southeast part of the bright nebula. Close to this nebula is visible the open
cluster (OB Association?) Trumpler 10. It looks like a sparse swarm of bright stars.
Brief comments about the object Trumpler
Trumpler 10, a stellar swarm visible with
binoculars even from urban skies, is catalogued as an open cluster, with a Trumpler
classification of II,2,p. However, some researchers suggest that Trumpler 10 is an OB
association situated near the morphological
center of the Gum Nebula, and it can account for most of the photoionization of the
Gum Nebula with another association, Vela
OB2. Vela OB2, first identified and discussed by Kapteyn (1914) as the “Vela
Group”, spans a large part of the Gum Nebula.
Trumpler 10 lies in the Northwest part of
constellation Vela.
Saturday, May 3, I completed this observing program. The observing site was
again Canota. I worked in constellation Vela, observing some nebulae that are
part of the big Gum complex. Observing this part of the sky was a very exciting experience.
Near the star HD 78004 there are two Gum nebulae. That star can be used as
a guide to find them (see map in first page in last month’s Rosette Gazette).
At 50 arc minutes we find Gum 23. With low magnification and without filter
I could see a little nebulosity (very faint). In the eyepiece field the brightest star
is FZ Velorum (magnitude 5).
Using the UHC filter the nebulosity is viewed better. The nebulosity was visible in the zone in the small circle ( lower left on this image), where a line of
three stars was visible also. The other faint patch of nebulosity is situated between the stars FZ Velorum and CD—47 64560 (middle right on the image).
It looks bigger than the other one. Close to the star FZ Velorum, and between
both patches, a dark region is visible.
Observing this object with higher magnification (53x) and the UHC filter the nebula still looks faint but a small hazy and
brighter spot is visible in the region indicated by the arrow. Averted vision is necessary to see this small feature.
About 1.7 degrees south of the star HD 78004 there exists another nebulae (Gum 35).
Gum 35 is visible through a 8-inch telescope. However is a challenging object for observers who have telescopes with
this aperture. I used low magnification in order to try to see the whole complex. Some faint stars are visible embedded in
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Southern Nebulae
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the nebula. Gum 35 looks very elongated. When we use a nebular filter (UHC for
example), we can improve the view of the nebula. With averted vision we can
discern two hazy patches, the bigger one is indicated with the red arrow in the
picture. At about 25 arc minutes Southwest to Gum 15, and visible in the same 1
degree eyepiece field, a very compact and small group of stars is visible, we are
talking about the open cluster Markarian 18 (Mrk 18), with a magnitude of 7.8
and 2 arc minutes in size.
The Vela Supernova Remnant and the “ Pencil Nebula” (NGC
The Vela Supernova Remnant, produced by a star that exploded approximately
11,000 years ago, is roughly spherical in shape and with an angular diameter of
about 7 degrees.
Last year (2007) I could see a small filament situated in the south part of this big Supernova Remnant, using an OIII filter and my own telescope. I had some advantages: a very dark and steady sky and a site at good altitude (2,000 meters
above see level). This time I tried again but under a little brighter background sky and from a site situated not so high like
that from where I observed this object (Uspallata Valley). The experience was not the same. This supernova remnant is a
very challenging object, at least for an 8-inch telescope, and personally I think some conditions are really necessary to see
it: To know very well where and what to observe, to stay as alone as you can to get concentrated and to spend all time
you need observing through the eyepiece to try to identify and see those faint filaments.
An easier part to see, and maybe the brighter part
of the Vela Supernova remnant, is its eastern filament catalogued as NGC 2736. Situated at about
1.4 degrees from the star HD 78004, NGC 2736
( also RCW 37) was discovered in the 1840s by Sir
John Herschel and it is known as “Pencil Nebula”
and also “Herschel´s Ray Nebula”. This filament of
nebulosity is almost the only sign of the eastern part
of the vast bubble of expanding shock wave from a
stellar explosion thousands years ago, the Vela Supernova Remnant.
I observed NGC 2736 with my telescope and also
with a 16-inch telescope. A big difference!
Through am 8-inch telescope this filament is barely
visible even with averted vision, but when you use a
bigger telescope (16-inch for example) the nebula
looks great, very long, smooth and narrow nebulosity. In both cases I used an UHC filter.
Left:The Pencil Nebula (NGC 2736). Its brighter part
is visible through an 8-inch telescope.
For comments or questions on this article, e-mail Leo Cavagnaro, GAMA (Grupo de Astrónomos Mendocinos
Aficianados), Mendoza, Argentina at
©Copyright 2008 The Rose City Astronomers All Rights Reserved.
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