A Cat’s Tale

A few weeks ago, I set up my smart telescope in my south-facing guestroom to capture a few Deep Space Objects(DSO). I placed the telescope pointing out of a window that opens onto the roof, removing the screen for a crisper image. I re-checked the setup about 30 minutes later and our cat, Peanut, was climbing into the window from the roof! I guess he had followed me into the darkened room one of the times I went in. Peanut, whose name is a mispronunciation of Pinot Grigio (Italian for grey), is a stealthy cat. He rarely meows (unless he’s hungry), has short claws so makes no noise when he walks, and is very hard to see in a dark room. Anyway, I was more careful the next time I went into the room, but he must have slipped in again when I exited because he was in there again the next time I entered. When I went to check the display of my smart telescope, I discovered a cat footprint on the screen! I guessed that Peanut had stepped on the screen. 

Cat's Paw Nebula sans stars
Cat’s Paw Nebula sans stars
Cat's Paw Nebula
Cat’s Paw Nebula

Actually, the DSO I had captured was the Cat’s Paw Nebula, an emission nebula and star-forming region located in the constellation Scorpius. It was discovered by astronomer John Herschel in 1837, who observed it from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. The nebula is located approximately 5500 lights-years from Earth, or 32,340 trillion miles way!

Now, I’ve learned my lesson and bring a flashlight with me to carefully look for Peanut when entering and exiting the room.