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Baxendell's Nebula (NGC 7088)




A nebula that apparently never was. The discovery of a large faint nebula near the globular cluster M2 in Aquarius was announced by the English amateur astronomer Joseph Baxendell in 1880 ("A New Nebula," MNRAS 41, 48). He found the object, designated as NGC 7088 by Dreyer, on Sept. 28, 1880 at his private observatory in Birkdale, using a 6-inch refractor, and described it being of "irregular oval form, its longer axis lying in a nearly east and west direction". It was, he reported, 30' north of M2 and 75' × 52' in size. He writes "It seems to be similar in character to the large nebula near the Pleiades [found by Tempel], but is slightly less bright. NGC 7088 was visually seen by a number of other observers, including Dreyer (1885, 10" refractor), Bigourdan (1897, 12" refractor), Hagen (1915 and 1917, 16" refractor), Wolf (1927, 6" refractor), O'Connor (1929, 15" refractor), Becker (1930, 12" refractor) and Lehner (1930, 4" refractor). However, the object could never be photographed – hence its nickname, "Baxendell's Unphotographable Nebula". It was eventually concluded that the object wasn't real and that visual sightings of it were due to effects such as reflections of the nearby bright cluster M2.


Related category

   • NEBULAE AND STAR CLUSTERS