Ten thousand years ago, before the dawn of recorded
human history, a new light must suddenly have appeared in the
night sky and faded after a few weeks. Today we know this light was an exploding
star and record the colorful expanding cloud as the Veil
above is the west end of the Veil
Nebula known technically as NGC
6960 but less formally as the Witch's
Nebula. The expanding debris cloud gains its colors by sweeping up and exciting
existing nearby gas. The supernova
remnant lies about 1400 light-years
away towards the constellation of Cygnus.
This Witch's Broom actually spans over three times the angular
size of the full
The bright star 52
is visible with the unaided eye from a dark location but unrelated to
the ancient supernova.