NGC 7380 & Sh 2-142 -- Open Cluster & Nebula in Cepheus
In deep sky photographs the Wizard Nebula (Sh 2-142) along with its embedded star
cluster NGC 7380 makes for an impressive picture. Through a small refractor the
brighter stars of NGC 7380 easily mark the location of the nebula, but visually seeing
the nebula is not guaranteed. In fact, I was expecting defeat the night of the drawing.
Some sources claimed that even with a nebula filter you need at least a 10-inch
telescope to see the Wizard Nebula. I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to
detect the northern section of the nebula with my 4.3-inch refractor using an OIII nebula
filter. It just goes to show that sometimes it is worth pushing your scope and eyes to
The Wizard Nebula glows mostly due to the magnitude 8.6 eclipsing binary star DH
Cepheii. The Wizard Nebula got its name from the shape of the extended nebula as
seen in photographs, however, I have never been able to make the wizard out
regardless of how long I stare at the photographs. In addition, Stephen O’Meara in
his book “Hidden Treasures” refers to the Open Cluster NGC 7380 as “Harry Potter
and the Golden Snitch”. This too remains beyond my imagination.
Regardless of your imagination abilities, this cluster/nebula combination is worth
searching out visually. Even if you fail to see the nebula proper the surrounding star
field is intense with starlight and loaded with double stars. Don’t let the
astrophotographers alone claim this section of space.