By Barrie Sawyer
The Veil Nebula in Cygnus is my favorite summertime deep sky object. I first observed it with an 8scope many years ago. It is most likely a supernova remnant of a star that exploded 30 to 40 thousand years ago, although remains of the progenitor have never been identified. The Veil consists of three sections spanning about 2.6 degrees. The easiest to locate runs through the 4th magnitude foreground star 51 Cygni. There is a well defined pointed wisp on one side of the star and a gradually fading fan on the other. Either an ultrablock or O-III filter greatly improves the nebula’s definition though most sources suggest the O-III filter. The western section is actually the brightest portion of the nebula but is more difficult to locate due to a lack of bright stars in the area. Use low power and a filter to find it. I have seen it in my 10X70 binoculars (without filters) and I have spotted it in 7X50 binoculars as a faint glow from Starport by putting an ultrablock in one of the eyecups. This section responds well to magnification showing well defined filamentary structure. Once you have found both the eastern and western sections, try to follow the arc of one to the other and back.
Between the outer arcs is the central portion known as Pickering’s Wisp about 1 degree NE of 51 Cygni. This is the most difficult section to locate and observe, but well worth the effort. I have been able to detect some filaments in my 10reflector. Burnham’s notes the source of the nebula’s glow is still somewhat of a mystery and remarks that its relative brightness may be due to our seeing the expanding cloud edge-on. Roaming around the Veil is one of my favorite activities. I’ve seen it from IRWS with a 6reflector. Has anyone seen from VMP? Try it. You will you be treated to one of summer’s best objects and get a chance to hone your hunting skills