NGC 7023 – Reflection Nebula In Cepheus


An excellent, but challenging late summer or early fall reflection nebula would have to be NGC 7023, located in Cepheus.  This faint nebula surrounding a magnitude 7 star can be found about 3 degrees SW of double star, Beta Cephei.  

This object seems to go mostly neglected by most amateurs.  It can be quite difficult to observe, due to it’s fairly large size and diffuse texture. When using my 10-inch reflector, and observing from my moderately light polluted backyard this nebula appears as a very subtle glow around the illuminating star.  The shape is mostly round, and the edges fade very gradually outwards.  The nebula is much improved and is enlarged when adding an Orion Skyglow filter.  

James Dire of Hawaii reports seeing only the mag. 7 central star when using a small refractor.  

Sue French of New York with a 130 mm refractor “At 23x there was a bright glow around a fairly bright star.  At 63x, the southern part showed nicely, and there was a faint star in it.  A UHC or O-lll filter was not helpful.  At 102x, the southern part was curved concave so the whole thing looked like a fat comma in my mirror-reversed view.”  

Brad Ivester of Nevada, using a 10-inch reflector “at a magnification of of 57x, the nebula appeared little more than a faint haze around a fairly bright star.”

Fred Rayworth of Nevada using a 16-inch reflector at a magnification of 102x could see a faint haze around a mag. 7 star, and also said that the use of a UHC or an O-lll did not help at all.  

As with all deep-sky objects, this object is greatly enhanced and the view improved with a very dark sky. The following is a pencil sketch that I made on a blank 5 x 8 note card with the colors inverted with the use of my scanner.

Roger Ivester

 The following image was made using three hour exposures over the nights of October 12, & 14, 2012 with a SBIG ST-2000 XCM CCD camera.  The scope used was a 102 mm APO refractor at f/6.3.  The seeing was around 2 arc seconds and the transparency was excellent from my west Kauai location.   Dr. James Dire


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