Challenge Object - March 2021

Original article appears in GuideStar March, 2021.

By Stephen Jones


NGC-2818 – Planetary Nebula in Pyxis

RA 09h16m01.5s Dec -36deg 37’37”

Size 93.0”x55.0” Vmag 11.9


This month’s challenge object is another off-the-beaten-path object in the southern skies.  NGC 2818 was discovered by James Dunlop in 1828.  It is a planetary nebula nestled within an open cluster, much like the more famous example of M46 and NGC 2438.  Interestingly, the cluster is not listed in the NGC as a separate object, but simply mentioned in the description of the nebula (“in a large cluster”).  Many atlases list both objects as NGC 2818, or one of them as NGC 2818A, but this is not technically correct.  Oddly, when I observed this object myself I made no note of the cluster at all; this may be because I was using the HAS observatory C14 so I may have been at sufficiently high magnification not to even notice the surrounding cluster as a cluster.  The nebula itself is of the two-lobed type like the Dumbbell Nebula M27, though much more “flattened” in shape. 




My log is as follows:

4/2/2016 11:22 pm – 14” f/11 SCT 150x

Somewhat faint but still easily visible with direct vision; larger in size; elongated N-S; looks like two long streaks with a dark bar across the middle.  Strong response to both UHC and OIII filters; no central star visible.


NGC 2818 is in a bit of a dead area of sky, devoid of many particularly bright stars.  The nearest particularly bright star is ζ Puppis, which is quite some distance away.  However, the nearer stars β Pyxidis, ε Antliae and ψ Velorum are easily visible naked eye from the HAS Dark Site and should provide good starting points for star hopping using a good chart. 

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