Eastern Section of the Bridal Veil Nebula in Cygnus
Around 15,000 years ago a supernova exploded with the brightness of a billion suns in a
section of the sky that would become known as Cygnus the Swan. The explosion resulted
in a star as bright as the full moon that lasted weeks in the sky. No doubt our ancestors
noticed the celestial spectacle. What omen or religious significance they placed on this
event is long lost to history. Today the shredded outer-layers of the exploded star cover
an area of the night sky equal to the size of 6 full moons and its disjunctive remnants are
collectively referred to as the Bridal Veil Nebula or just Veil Nebula.
What once was bright is now dim and without special filters cannot be seen visually from
suburban skies in telescopes. However, the gas remnants from the Super Nova, glow
from excited Oxygen atoms. Modern expensive Oxygen-III filters block the surrounding
star-light letting the glow of the nebula’s atoms stand out in the eyepiece. The Bridal
Veil Nebula becomes visible even in moderately light-polluted skies.
The two brightest sections of the Veil are the west-section and the east-section. They are
too far apart for me to see in my 155mm refractor which gives me a maximum field-of-view
of 2.4 degrees. So, each section had to be drawn separately. The western section has
been assigned as NGC 6960, while the eastern section as NGC 6992 along with its
slightly separated southern extension, NGC 6995.
I doubt that I will ever witness a Supernova as bright as my Co-Magnon ancestors did. They
just do not happen all that often. My Supernova enjoyment is currently restricted to those
seen in far off galaxies and from hunting down the ghostly remnants of our past galactic
Supernovas. Still I hope that I am wrong and that one day I will step out under the night sky
and a bright new star will be shining down from the heavens.