Nebula NGC7000

NGC 7000 and IC 5070 (North America- and Pelican Nebula) in Cygnus


The North America and Pelican nebulae are near the zenith during autumn evenings in southern Norway.


This is a 54 megapixel, four-panel mosaic narrowband image of ionized hydrogen (light green), hydrogen enriched with oxygen (turquoise), and hydrogen enriched with sulfur (red). Cold, dark clouds of gas and dust silhouette the fluorescent gas, creating structure. 


The young star that is ionizing the nebula, making it fluoresce, is completely hidden behind the cold, dark dust cloud near the center of the image, off the southern tip of “Florida”.


The sharp contrast of ionized gas and cold gas and dust makes this area of the autumn sky one of the most dramatic we can see from Norway's latitudes. 


William Herschel documented the nebula in 1786. As early as 1890, the German astrophotographer Max Wolf described the shape of the nebulosity as resembling North America, with outlines reminiscent of Mexico, Yucatán, Florida and the Caribbean.



Fun facts

  • The distance to NGC7000 is 2590 ± 80 light years*. The width of the image is 170 light years.
  • The digital resolution of the original photo is 7336 x 7336 pixels. Seen from the distance of these nebulae (2590 lightyears), our solar system out to Neptune's orbit would be completely invisible as it would cover only 0.015 pixel.
  • The space probe "New Horizons" was launched in 2006 and flew by Pluto over nine years later. One of the fastest space probes, New Horizons currently has a velocity of over 23.2 km (14.4 miles) per second, which equals 84,000 km/time (52,000 m/h). To traverse the width of this photo (170 light years), New Horizons would require 2.2 million years. 
  • Apart from hydrogen and most of the helium, the entire periodic table is present in these nebulae. The elements are formed in stellar cores, merging neutron stars and dying low-mass stars which had existed long before these nebulae had formed.
  • The darkest areas in the photo are sufficiently cold to allow molecules to form. Here, the temperature is only -263 C.

Frequently asked questions

  • Are the colors real?
    No. The filtration and color pallette show the distribution of three elements: hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur. Human eyes are not light-sensitive enough to see colors in these nebulae, not even through a large telescope. If our eyes were thousands of times more sensitive, we would perceive the color of the nebulae as red or magenta.This is because the strongest emission of ionized hydrogen lies in the red part of the spectrum, and hydrogen is by far the most abundant element.


Isle of Rennes (Rennesøy), September-December 2021 and 2022

Telescope: Skywatcher Esprit ED 120 mm f/7 apochromat

Mount: ASA DDM160

Camera: Apogee U16M, CCD temperature -25 C, processing PixInsight

Exposure: Hydrogen (H-alpha) 15 hours, double-ionized oxygen (OIII) 20 hours, and single-ionized Sulphur (SII) 12 hours.
Sensor temperature: -25C

Digital resolution of the original photo: 7336 x 7336 pixels


*Kuhn, Michael A.; Hillenbrand, Lynne A.; Carpenter, John M.; Menendez, Angel Rodrigo Avelar (2020). "The Formation of a Stellar Association in the NGC 7000/IC 5070 Complex: Results from Kinematic Analysis of Stars and Gas". The Astrophysical Journal. 899 (2): 128–167.

Map of the Milky Way
Source: SkySafari Pro 6, for iOS.

The location of the  North America and Pelican Nebula

On this map of the Milky Way galaxy, the North America and Pelican Nebulae are marked by the light-green square, NGC 7000. The orange dot marks our solar system which lies 2590 light years from NGC 7000, in the same arm of the Milky Way, - the Orion Spur. This section of the map is 50 000 light years on each side.


The pink blobs are star-forming nebulae. New-born stars ionize the nebulae with UV-radiation, and since nebulae are 75% hydrogen, the nebulae glow pink or red.

Nebula NGC7000

Same 4-panel mosaic as above, but only the Hydrogen-Alpha wavelength of 656.3nm. The circle at lower left is 1/2 degree in diameter, and shows the apparent size of the moon on the sky for angular scale. The rectangle shows the location of the detail below.

Detail of the  Pelikan Nebula
Herbig-Haro-object HH 555 resembles an axe with a long handle. The handle is a wake of gas and dust that the newborn star trails "downwind". The arrow points to the new star, whose streams of matter spewing out along its rotation axis forms the axe head.

Deep inside the Pelican Nebula

Stars are born from collapsing clouds of cold (-250 C) hydrogen. During the span of several thousand years, the young star expels gas jets along its rotation axis. The jets reach velocities of several hundred kilometers per second. These new-born stars are called Herbig-Haro objects. They are named after George Herbig og Guillermo Haro, who described the physics of them in the 1950s.


Isle of Rennes, Rogaland, oct 2021

Telescope: Skywatcher Esprit ED 120 mm f/7 apochromat

Mount: ASA DDM160

Camera: Apogee U16M

Exposure / filtering: 120 min / H-alpha, CCD-temp -25 C

Emission nebulae surrounding Sadr (Gamma Cygni)


Isle of Rennes, Rogaland

Telescope: Skywatcher Esprit ED 120 mm f/7 apochromat

Mount: ASA DDM160

Camera: Apogee U16M, CCD temperature -30 C

Exposure: Ha, 15 min

Dinium Observatory on the Isle of Rennes, southwest Norway.

Dinium Observatory


Dinium Observatory is a private backyard observatory on Rennesøy (Isle of Rennes) in south-west Norway. It was built by R.W. Williams, an amateur astronomer and professional paleontologist.


The fiberglass dome is produced by ScopeDome in Poland. The observatory's floorspace is only 8 sqm, yet the dome houses a 62 cm (24 in) cassegrain telescope. The telescope and German equatorial Mount have a total mass of 700 kg.


The equatorial mount and truss tube is produced by Astrosysteme Austria (ASA) near Freistadt. The optics are ground and figured on a spindel machine. The truss tube allows the optics to be configured as an f/10.4, 6450 mm cassegrain or a f/3.4, 2108 mm prime focus astrograph. Both foci have large flat-field correctors that yield a 50 mm diameter photographic field.

Left: Although this is Norway's largest optical telescope, the observatory's footprint is small.


Right: Cross-section showing the pyramid-shaped, mechanically isolated concrete pad which is cast and anchored on granitic basement rock. The German-type equatorial mount (560 kg incl. counterweight) is fastened to the concrete pad with expansion bolts. The total mass of the telescope and mount is 700 kg.

IC 1805 The Heart Nebula


Narrow-band image of IC 1805. North is down. 

Interference from clouds reduced the number of sub-exposures for ionized sulphur (SII) and oxygen (OIII).



Date: 16 December 2017 

Loc: Isle of Rennes (Rennesøy), Rogaland, Norway

Telescope: Skywatcher Esprit ED 120 mm f/7 apochromat

Mount: ASA DDM160

Camera: Apogee U16M, CCD temp -30 C

Exposure: Ha, OIII, SII 50/40/20 min


Astrophotography and projects.


How does one grind, polish and figure telescope optics at home?


The observatory dome, telescope mount, optical tube assembly and instrumentation.

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Fine grinding with a fixed-post grinding machine


The fixed-post polishing tool quickly polished the surface to s sphere, reaching the target center of curvature. The polishing compound was cerium dioxide. 

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Portland cement polishing tool

The pitch lap is cast as individual squares on the cement tool. Although this method is very time consuming, it avoids the risk of thermal shock to the cellular mirror blank.

So many satellites

We humans have sent many tonnes of technology into orbit from 1957 to the present, - more than 5000 satellites. 


During a 4.4 hour exposure covering 6.25 square degrees of sky, many old and new satellites cross the field.


Photo: RW Williams, 8-9 April 2019

Time: 20.55 - 02.28 UT 

Equipment: Esprit 120 ED + Apogee U16M

This is  mosaic of seventeen lunar images, each of which consists of more than one hundred images stacked and processed in  AviStack2. Composited digital resolution is 5200 x 6500 pixels.