Planetary Nebula NGC 2371 / 2372 - The Heavenly Piece of Candy
By: Vlad Fedosov
Gemini has some pretty nice planetary nebulas(named planetary because they resemble a somewhat de-focused planed in small telescopes). Undoubtedly most have seen NGC 2392, the Clown Face nebula in Gemini and indeed its one of my favorite objects in the night sky. With Gemini getting higher in the evening sky this time of year I stumbled on planetary nebula NGC 2371 / 2372. I’m not sure if I have ever seen this object. This pair is actually one object that is 4400 light years from us shining at a dim 13 magnitude.
I checked out this object with my electronically assisted astronomy(EAA)/visual setup a Meade 12” ACF/ASI 294MC Pro. My scope is setup with a flip mirror system so that I can visually look at an object and then do an EAA capture with the camera. Once the scope had the object centered in the field of view(FOV) I first looked at it visually at 130x. It appeared like a very condensed version of m76 , the small Dumbbell Nebula. I was fairly impressed at how bright it was considering that I was observing from my mag 4 backyard! Beyond the two lobes no color or other detail was visible. The two lobes are very close to one another so I’m at bit of a loss as to how this was given two separate NGC numbers…
Moving on to the EAA capture I used 15 second subs for a total of 1 hour of exposure to pull out the faint outer halo. As you can see the nebula displays a very nice range of aqua to purple colors with the central star easily visible(this is the star that exploded to produce the gas visible). One very curious aspect of this EAA stack is the star on the right of the image that had a trail to it as if it was moving through the FOV. I have never seen this before and no idea what caused this(shoot me an email if you know!). As seen from the EAA stack this nebula really does remind me of a piece of candy just suspended in space!
All in all I feel like this is a really cool object and really worth checking out if you have at least a 6” scope. I’m really looking forward to seeing this at high power with my 16” dob from a dark sky site!