Jim's Corner Blog

Dark Nebula Bernard 142 and Barnard 143

In 1888, E.E. Barnard, seen by many as the greatest American observational astronomer, began his work at Lick Observatory in California. Using refining his expertise in astro-photography, Bernard conducted a photographic study of the Milky Way.

The dark nebulas B142 and B143 are a product of E.E. Barnard’s study of photographs of dark nebulae. Barnard 142 and 143 are a pair of gas and dust clouds that block out the background stars and nebulae in the Aquila constellation. They form a dark nebula complex known as Barnard’s “E” Nebula. This pair of dark nebula forms a well-defined dark area on a background of Milky Way consisting of countless stars of all magnitudes. Its size is about that of the full moon, roughly 0.5 degrees, and its distance from earth is estimated at about 2,000 light-years.

Visible (or is it invisible?) through any binocular on dark nights, the reader is reminded to look for where there isn’t any starlight. Such is the nature of observing dark nebulas.