Halloween as we know it today has its roots deep in a number of ancient traditions celebrating the end of harvest and the beginning of the darker half of the year. In some cultures, the barrier between our world and the spiritual world was believed to be particularly thin around this time. If you looked carefully, some thought, you might peer beyond the veil of our physical reality and catch a glimpse of another realm.
Amateur astronomers and skygazers celebrate the season as a chance to peer into another realm, too, though this one is celestial rather than supernatural. Get into the spirit with some spooky deep-sky objects hiding amidst the stars!
Witch’s Broom Nebula
Does a celestial witch hide in the constellation Cygnus? In the western part of the Veil Nebula, the leftovers from a supernova, the Witch’s Broom Nebula lies. In our night sky, the entire Veil Nebula, as well as the Witch’s Broom, sweeps across 6 times the length of the full Moon!
Ghost of the Moon Nebula
For a ghostly treat, look toward the constellation Aquila for this planetary nebula, NGC 6781, resembling a pale, yet eerily colorful shadow of our Moon. Fittingly, it’s the matter left behind after the death of a star — perhaps the closest analogue to a real ghost!
This small, isolated galaxy (also known as NGC 404) hides in the glimmer of the star Mirach, within the constellation Andromeda. On frightening nights lit by the howling Moon, you may catch a fleeting glimpse of its shape. Or was that just a ghost?
Cosmic Bat Nebula
In a dark, forgotten part of Orion lurks this phantasmic creature, spreading ghostly wings to soar amidst the stars. The Cosmic Bat Nebula, or NGC 1788, is a reflection nebula carved out by the winds from Orion’s large stars.
Much like a wizard’s long robes, the Wizard Nebula cloaks the open star cluster NGC 7380. Found in the constellation Cepheus, the wizardry of this ethereal nebula is powerful enough to form stars and create pillars of dust and gas.
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Clear skies! 🔭