McNeil's Nebula


McNeil's Nebula was discovered Jan-Feb 2004 by amateur astronomer and imager Jim McNeil. It is near M78 (seen at the top in the image below) which is in Orion (The Hunter).  At first it was believed that this was a brand new, never before existing, object. It could not be seen on the 7 Digital Sky Survey plates taken between 1951 and 1991.  It was also not seen in images taken 3 months prior to the discovery image.  However, it was eventually found in an image taken October 1966.  This means that McNeil's Nebula is a variable nebula, in this case, a reflection nebula powered by a variable star.  Most likely this is a young star, still in the process of formation, before it has settled down on to the main sequence.

Analytically, McNeil's Nebula is 1.3 x 0.95 arc min across, 1.6 kly away, and shines at a variable magnitude of 15-16.  The green arrows at the side of the image show where to look.


The image above was taken with the 12" LX200, AO7, and ST-8E camera at f/6.3 on Feb 20 2004 at the Mistletoe Observatory.  It is an LRGB image (as detailed below) with a total exposure time of 90 min.  Calibration and alignment were done in MaxIm DL.  LRGB layering and final processing was done with Photoshop.


Exposure Count Binning
Luminance 30 min 3 x 10 min 2x2
Red 20 min 2 x 10 min 2x2
Green 20 min 2 x 10 min 2x2
Blue 20 min 2 x 10 min 2x2