A layering of images taken at the BYU West Mountain Observatory piece together the western portion of the Veil Nebula. Final image processing by Robert Gendler.
Final image processing by Robert Gendler

From an earthly vantage point, the Veil Nebula, pictured here, covers an area of the night sky that is more than six times the apparent diameter of the full moon. Even so, it is invisible to the naked eye. The 0.9-meter telescope and research CCD camera at BYU’s West Mountain Observatory, which can take thousands of pictures on any given night, captured this closer look by layering together dozens of images from exposures of several minutes each.

The intricate nebula derives its name from its fragile, draped appearance and, as one of the largest and most impressive supernova remnants, is popular with astrophotographers.

“It is so large on the plane of the sky that a typical telescope only sees a fraction of the entire nebula,” says astronomy professor Michael D. Joner (BS ’79, MS ’81, PhD ’11), explaining that this image shows the nebula’s western portion. “The whole complex is the result of a large star that exploded as a supernova between 5,000 and 8,000 years ago off in the direction of the constellation of Cygnus.”

More From This Issue

At the Y

A Comic Mission

Through the good, the bad, and the funny, this missionary kept her mission journal as a 628-page comic strip.


An Experiment upon the Word

An advertising team finds that the best tool for changing perceptions about the Book of Mormon is the Book of Mormon.

Browse the complete Spring 2018 Issue »

More Articles

At the Y

In Pursuit of Holo-Fame

David Smalley, the ultimate Trekkie and Skywalker fan, is going to make Leia holographic video a real thing.

At the Y

Hot Jupiter!

BYU astronomers’ patient plotting tipped off the discovery of a massive, sizzling-hot planet.