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RickJ
2011-Sep-01, 12:55 AM
Sh2-54/Gum 85 is a huge star forming region in Serpens Cauda. It is part of the Serpens OB2 Association, a large star forming region. I couldn't find any distance for it but most consider it related to the open star cluster NGC 6604 (a couple degrees out of my frame). That does seem to have a good distance measurement of 5,500 light-years based on Hipparcos and other sources. Though I've found a very wide range on the net these seem to be based on older, less accurate measurements. For more on this area of the sky see:
http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/publications/preprints/08preprints/Reipurth_08-209.pdf

Sh2-54 is far too large for my system being about 9 square degrees in area. It does have a brighter area that does fit my image scale so that's the part I centered on. Note there are several "elephant trunk" features in the image. They all point back to NGC 6604 confirming its association with this nebula.

You can see the entire nebula at Dean Salman's website:
http://sharplesscatalog.com/Sharpless.aspx?Sharp=54

Normally I display images with north up. I am making an exception here and have oriented it south up. This is because my sick brain sees this nebula looking like a chihuahua making a rather rude gesture with its front legs. Maybe it should be known as the Rude Chihuahua Nebula? Since a chihuahua's leg can't bend in that direction without breaking that may explain why it is mad. I should mention I'm no fan of that breed. My maternal grandmother carried one wherever she went (long before Paris Hilton). I was 4 and told to kiss grandma good night. The dog chomped on my nose so hard I needed quite a few stitches. Next night I was told to do the same. I put up quite a fight but lost. This time the bandages helped, I only needed two stitches replaced. A couple days later my cat killed the blankety blank dog much to my glee. The dog annoyed it one too many times. Cat was 20 pounds of muscle (Maine Coon), chihuahua 3.5 pounds of trembling "Jello" and sharp teeth. So is it getting back at me from the skies? My wife claims it looks like a pig but she had no encounters with that chihuahua.

14" LX200R @ f/10, L=4x10' RGB=2x10'x3, STL-11000XM, Paramount ME

I'm falling more and more behind. This was taken August 13, 2010. I've got to start turning them out like crazy it seems. I need some 36 hour days.

Rick