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A mosaic of NGC 4372 and a part of the dark and and molecular cloud Sandqvist 149 (CG 21) in the constellation Musca (fly)


Sandqvist 149, the "Dark Doodad" nebula, is a dark nebula near the globular cluster NGC 4372 in the constellation Fly (Musca). "Dark Doodad" can best be translated into German as "Das dunkel Ding". It is part of the large Musca molecular cloud, a region consisting of dense gas and dust that is filamentary in structure. The dark cloud region is not all that makes up the cloud, however. Both to the north and to the south (into the constellation Chameleon) bright continuations are found in the form of reflection nebulae. Sandqvist 149 is also cataloged as CG 21.

The whole dark cloud shows the wide-angle image from the online star atlas ALADIN, inverted and extremely enhanced in contrast.

At a distance of between 500 to 700 light-years, it is one of the closest star-forming regions to the solar system. The apparent longitude of the cloud is 3 degrees, roughly equivalent to 30 light-years The nebula was cataloged in 1977 by Aage Sandqvist, an astronomer at the Stockholm Observatory.

The name "Dark Doodad" was given by American amateur astronomer and Sky & Telescope editor Dennis di Cicco. Sandqvist created a list of 95 dark nebulae of the southern sky according to the ESO B Atlas. In the SIMBAD database the nebula can also be found under the designation Sandqvist 149. For more information see here..

NGC 4372 is a large globular cluster with an apparent diameter of just under 20 arcminutes. It is classified as Type XII and has a distance of just under 19 000 light years from the solar system, which corresponds to a real diameter of about 100 light years. NGC 4372 is unique because, unlike most globular clusters in the halo of our galaxy, it contains only one stellar population, which is also very metal-poor.

The stars in NGC 4372 appear in a distinct yellow color compared to other globular clusters. The reason for this is an absorption by interstellar matter (clearly visible in our image), which stands between the solar system and the globular cluster. The absorption is on average 1.2 magnitudes and produces a distinct reddening of the stars in NGC 4372. The brightest stars of the cluster - red giants - reach a visual brightness between 12.5 to magnitude class.

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