Cocoon Nebula and Barnard 168

September 29, 2022

The Cocoon Nebula (IC 5146, Caldwell 19, Sh2-125) is a combination reflection and emission nebula in Cygnus, and the long trail of dust is the dark nebula Barnard 168. (In an emission nebula, the intense radiation from one or more stars causes the surrounding gases—hydrogen, oxygen and other gases, to release energy and emit their own light, e.g., the hydrogen itself is lit up. In a reflection nebula, the light from one or more stars reflects off or shines through the surrounding interstellar dust, hydrogen, and other gases. So, there's a bit of both going on in the Cocoon). The last time I captured the Cocoon Nebula, a little over a year ago, I used the 800mm Newt and IC 5146 (the circular red region) filled most the whole center part of the image. This time, with the SpaceCat's wider field of view, 250mm focal length, I framed the area to be able to capture the long stream of interstellar dust catalogued as B 168. The Cocoon, IC 5146 is about 4000 lightyears away, and the central star illuminating the surrounding gas and dust is a newly-formed star, maybe only 100,000 years old (compare to our star: the Sun is around 4.6 billion years old). Imaging Notes: 90 x 180-second Red, Green, Blue filters (Astronomik Deep Sky RGB), ZWO ASI1600MM-Pro monochrome camera running at -10C, ZWO AM5 EQ mount, William Optics SpaceCat 51 apochromatic refractor, ZWO ASI290MM guide camera with OAG.