Perseus Molecular Cloud
The Perseus Molecular Cloud contains a collection of very faint emission, reflection and dark nebulae. Hold your mouse cursor over the image to see object identifications.
Omicron Persei and IC 348 are at upper left in this image. NGC 1333 is at right center. This area is located in the constellation of Perseus and is part of the Perseus OB2 Molecular Cloud. The lower portion of the image is on the border of the constellations of Taurus and Aries.
This area is located 700 to 1,000 light-years distant and is a stellar nursery where stars have formed in the last 1 million years. Most are still hidden in the dust of the cloud.
IC 348 is located 8 arcminutes south-southeast from Omicron Persei. It is also listed as VdB 19 and called the Flying Ghost Nebula.
NGC 1333 is located 3.3 degrees west-southwest from Omicron Persei.
The large red emission nebula G159.6-18.5 is to the west of Omicron Persei with dark nebula Bernard 3 in front of it. This HII region is superimposed on the Perseus molecular cloud.
Dark nebula in the area listed in E. E. Barnard's catalog are B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B202, B203, B204, B205 and B206. There are also numerous other Lynds dark nebula in the area.
Barnard book of dark nebulae, A Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way, was published posthumously in 1927.
Barnard was an amateur astronomer who turned his love of astronomy and comet hunting into a career as a professional astronomer and astrophotographer.
His atlas is an historic work. The images were taken circa 1905 with the Bruce Telescope, a photographic instrument that was specially constructed for the task that was a composite of three separate telescopes, a 10-inch aperture f/5 refractor, a 6.5-inch aperture f/5.4 refractor, and a 3-inch guidescope.
Only 700 original copies of the Atlas are thought to exist. The amazing thing it is that each plate in the book is an actual photographic print made from the original negative. Barnard, a perfectionist, personally inspected each of the 35,000 prints, however the work was not completed at the time of his death in 1923. It was finally finished by Edwin B. Frost, then director of the Yerkes Observatory, and by Barnard's niece, Mary R. Calvert, and published in 1927.
The faintest dust in this image is visible because it is actually reflecting starlight from the Milky Way Galaxy. In some cases it may even be absorbing light and glowing faintly.
North is to the top in the above image.