|Pickering's Wedge: Supernova Remnant (Cygnus) RA: 20h 48.5m / DEC: +31° 35'.0|
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder
The Veil Nebula in Cygnus is among the best known and most observed nebulae in the celestial arcade. Its principle components are NGC 6960 and NGC 6992. However, these are not the only observable remnants from that ancient cosmic catastrophe. Among the several nebular patches in the region is one called Pickering's Wedge. It is also known as Pickering's Triangle or Fleming's Triangular Wisp. You'll find this silky remnant between the aforementioned major components of the Veil.
My sketch captures a 36X view in my 10-inch Newtonian, achieved by pairing a TeleVue 32-mm Plossl eyepiece with the Lumicon OIII nebula filter. Pickering's Wedge is aligned north-south and covers roughly a 38'x20' area. It's broadest at the middle of the field and tapers considerably further to the south. The bright star along the west edge of the wedge is 7.9 magnitude HD 198213. The other 30 stars in the field range from 8th to 10th magnitude. Other nebulous patches are seen or suspected. These include the 5'x3' misty glow 18' to the north in which a pair of faint stars seem enmeshed and the north-south elongated haze inside the western field boundary.
Pickering's Wedge was discovered in 1904 by Williamina Fleming of Harvard College. Fleming was examining photographic plates of the region around 52 Cygni when she noticed a triangular wispy patch of nebulosity. As was the custom of the day, credit for the discovery went to her supervisor, astronomer E. C. Pickering.
The surrounding region is practically littered with shards of nebulosity. NGC 6979 is just beyond the field to the east. And there are others to be found. But what is needed is a dark, transparent sky. Next time you're fortunate to observe under such conditions, spend a minute or 60 exploring the wonders of the Veil Nebula and Pickering's Wedge.
Layout, design & revisions © W. D. Ferris
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Revised: September 27, 2005 [WDF]