NGC 2440 -- Planetary Nebula in Puppis
Planetary Nebula with Many Names
NGC 2440 is a showpiece among Planetary Nebulae. This is one of the easiest Planetary
Nebulae to see. No need for a specialized nebula filter for this object. Very bright and
concentrated. Because this nebula shows multiple wing patches in large professional
telescopes, it has picked up several common names. Bat Planetary Nebula, Albino Butterfly,
Kiss Nebula, and Little Lips Nebula to name a few. But in my experience, using smaller
amateur telescopes it will always be the Horseshoe Planetary Nebula (although, no one else
calls it that).
In the 110mm refractor at low power, NGC 2440 appears as a star-like fuzzy dot. There is an
8.4 magnitude light-colored orangish star (HD 62167) just to the east of it. NGC 2440
handles magnification well and one can push the telescope upwards in power until the
atmosphere starts degrading the view. Although, in amateur telescopes one cannot make
out the famous individual wing patches, the nebula definitely shows detail. With the 110mm
refractor at 257x (the best power I could get for the night of the drawing) it appeared, to me,
as a grainy horseshoe open at the north end. The eastern edge of the horseshoe was
brighter and thicker than the western edge, but not by much.
An easy way to find NGC 2440, if you are using an equatorial mount, is to just drop the
telescope 3.2 degrees south after viewing the bright Open Cluster M46. You cannot miss it.