Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

vdB 152 Reflection Nebula

Wolf's Cave Complex


Mouse over the above image to see the designations of the various objects


Van den Bergh 152, also known as Cederblad 201, is the blue reflection nebula located in the center left of the above image . The large dark nebula stretching to the right of vdB 152 is Barnard 175, a Bok Globule. This complex, also called Wolf's Cave, is located about 1,400 light years away in the direction of the constellation of Cepheus.

Full of very faint dust, this area is part of a large molecular cloud named the Cepheus Flare by Edwin Hubble. The opaque dust blocks most of the starlight behind it, but blue light from a young star is scattered and reflected off some of the particles to illuminate the reflection part of the nebula. The 9.3 magnitude star B.D. +69 1231, inside vdB 152, seems to be powering the nebulae in the area, but is not thought to have formed there, but rather is just passing through.  Lynd's Bright Nebula (LBN 538) can also be seen near the top right of the image (mouse over image for object identification). North is to the right in this image.

The van den Bergh catalog was published by Sidney van den Bergh in 1966 from a study of the Palomar Sky Survey and contains 158 reflection nebulae.

Barnard 175 was cataloged by E. E. Barnard in A Photographic Atlas of Selected Areas of the Milky Way  from photographs made at Lick Observatory from 1889-1895, but not printed until 1913.


  • Date & Location:  September 16th/17th, 2012 - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Calm, Temperature range 51F to 46F (11pm to 3am)

  • Sky Conditions:  Mostly clear with patchy cirrus clouds, average transparency. 

  • SQM-L: 20.30 start - 20.50 finish

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is Refractor @ 540mm f5.4

  • Filter:  Hutech IDAS-LPS (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  AstroPhysics AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Orion SSAG @5 seconds

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500d) Hap Griffin modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  22 - 10 minute subs  @ ISO800 - 3 hours 40 minutes total exposure

  • Calibration Frames:  Master Dark & Bias 50F

  • Processing:  Images Plus 4.50b, PS CS6, GradientXTerminator, NIK filter tools 

  • Comments:  Image detail likely reduced by patchy cirrus clouds and less than ideal transparency on this night.


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