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Pac-Man Nebula Chomps Through Deep Space in Photo

Pacman Nebula Fera
Night sky photographers Bob and Janice Fera took this photo of the Pacman Nebula, also known as NGC 281, on Sept. 8-11, 2012 from Eagle Ridge Observatory in Foresthill, Ca. The Feras used an Officina Stellare RC-360AST 14" f/8 Ritchey Chretien Cassegrain telescope with two-element field flattener to observe the nebula. An Apogee Alta U16M CCD camera with Astrodon filters was used to capture the photo. NGC 281 is a cloud consisting of dust and gas located approximately 9,200 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Cassiopeia.
(Image: © Bob and Janice Fera / www.feraphotography.com)

A massive cloud of dust and gas create the likeness of the pixelated protagonist of 1980s video game fame, Pac-Man.

Astrophotographers Bob and Janice Fera took this photo of the nebula, also known as NGC 281, on Sept. 8-11, 2012 from Eagle Ridge Observatory in Foresthill, Calif. The Feras used an Officina Stellare RC-360AST 14" f/8 Ritchey Chretien Cassegrain telescope with two-element field flattener to observe the nebula. An Apogee Alta U16M CCD camera with Astrodon filters was used to capture the photo.

Located about 9,200 light-years away, the Pac-Man nebula earned its moniker because the star-forming cloud appears to be chomping space in visible-light images. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). The official name of the nebula is NGC 281 in the constellation Cassiopeia near the edge of our Milky Way.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing skywatching photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com.

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