Skywatchers Find Striking View Deep in the Heart Nebula

NGC 896 Emission Nebula
NGC 896 Emission Nebula in constellation Cassiopeia is located some 7500 light-years from Earth in the Heart Nebula. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). (Image credit: Bob and Janice Fera)


Located about 7,500 light-years from Earth in the brightest part of the Heart Nebula, is the brilliant NGC 896 Emission Nebula in constellation Cassiopeia.

Skywatching enthusiasts Bob and Janice Fera took this spectacular image between Sept. 26 and 27 at the Eagle Ridge Observatory, Foresthill, Calif. Multiple exposures are made to collect enough light for an image that would otherwise not be evident to the eye.

In the image, the nebula NGC 896 appears awash in bright red hues, with streaks of black created by interstellar dust.

NGC 896 is an emission nebula of glowing gas and darker dust lanes situated in the Perseus Arm in the northern sky. Plasma of ionized hydrogen and free electrons formed this nebula, which was first discovered by Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel in 1787. It forms only part of the larger Heart nebula.

Cassiopeia was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century Greek astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations today. It isn't difficult to recognize the constellation due to its distinctive 'W' shape formed by five bright stars.

In the sky Cassiopeia sits with Andromeda on the South side, Perseus on the South East and Cepheus to the North. She is opposite the Big Dipper, and can be seen the clearest in early November. In Greek mythology it was considered to represent the vain queen Cassiopeia, who boasted about her unrivaled beauty.

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Contributing Writer and Producer

Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for She began writing and producing content for in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.