The Cocoon Nebula (Caldwell 19, NGC 5146) is a stellar nursery, with its delicate fabic of glowing hydrogen torn asunder by the solar wind of newborn stars. Imagine scanning
the heavens from a planet within this nebula. While we envision a glowing scarlet sky obscuring most stars, in reality the inhabitants would barely notice the nebula. The faint rustic
shade emitted by the hydrogen cloud would just contribute to the background canvas of the night sky. Beyond the central glow of hydrogen, surrounding instellar dust begins to
dominate. Closer to the central star, this dust reflects pale blue light. Farther away, the dust fades, and instead blocks the light of more distant background stars, especially to the
west (right) of the Cocoon.
The image above was obtained with 56 minutes clear luminance unbinned, and 28 red, and 24 green and blue exposures binned 2x2. I used a QSI-583wsg through an
Astro-Physics 12" Astrograph. The image below was obtained 4 years earlier though a Meade LX200R telescope and AP 0.67x reducer with an ST10 camera. Exposures were
120 minutes Hydrogen-alpha, 35 minutes red, 30 minutes green, and 30 minutes blue, for a total imaging time of 3 hours and 30 minutes. All exposures were binned 2x2 due to
poor seeing conditions.
Music: Imagine, by John Lennon