Seagull Nebula (IC 2177)

IC 2177
IC 2177: Seagull nebula is an emission nebula on the border between Canis Maior and Monoceros.; Refraktor Takahashi FSQ-106ED at f/3,6 (0,72x MF-Flattener); ASI 1600 MM-Cool; 6 x 10 min; Muri b. Bern, 515 m ASL; © 20. 1. 2024 Manuel Jung [45]
IC 2177
IC 2177: The Seagull Nebula is an emission nebula between Canis Major and Monoceros. One can see the open cluster M 50 above the seagull and Thor's Helmet (NGC 2359) below it.; Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135 mm f/2.0 ZE f/2.8; Canon EOS 6Da; Astro-Physics 1200GTO; 25 x 5 @ 800 ASA; Namibia, Tivoli Southern Sky Guest Farm, 1360 m AMSL; © 4. 9. 2016 Manuel Jung [45]


On 10 January 1785 William Herschel sweeped his 18.7 inch reflecting telescope through the constellation Monoceros and found three «coarsely scattered clusters of stars»: VIII 32 (NGC 2335), VIII 33 (NGC 2343) and VIII 34 (NGC 2353).

Few nights later on 31 January 1785 William Herschel came again across the same region and found an object, which he classified as IV 25 (class IV = planetary nebulae, stars with burs, with milky chevelure, with short rays, remarkable shapes, etc). He noted: «A pcst. (pretty cometic? star) with very faint and very small much chevelure of an irregular figure.» [463] His Sohn John cataloged that object in 1833 as h 428, not being sure whether it was the same as IV 25. He described it with: «A double star whose large star is in centre of a very faint nebula which involves the small star also.» [466] In his «General Catalogue» the object got the designation GC 1487 and the description: «pretty bright double star involved in small, very faint nebula.» [467] In 1888 Dreyer added this discovery as NGC 2327 to his «New General Catalogue». [313]

In 1898 the British astronomer Isaac Roberts took a picture of that region using the 20" reflector at his observatory «Starfield» in Crowborough Hill, Sussex, UK. He wrote: «Nebula in Monoceros in which the star 7.3 mag BD -10°1848 is involved together with several other faint stars. The nebula is irregularly round, bright, with a wide nebulous band across it in s. f. to n. p. direction. The nebula is about 13 minutes of arc in diameter.» [554] This sighting was then added as IC 2177 by Dreyer in 1910 to his «Second Index Catalogue». [315]

In 1955 Colin S. Gum from the Commonwealth Observatory in Canberra did a survey of H-II regions and identified parts of the nebula, which are known as Gum 1, Gum 2 and Gum 3. [555] Stewart Sharpless «Catalogue of H II Regions» published in 1959 lists Sh 2-292, Sh 2-295, Sh 2-296, Sh 2-297. [310] In the early 1960ies Beverly Lynd identified numerous dark (LDN 1657, LDN 1658) and bright nebulae (LBN 1027, LBN 1033, LBN 1035, LBN 1039) in this region. [270, 473]

Canis Majoris OB1 Association
Canis Majoris OB1 Association: Verschiedene identifizierte Bereiche. Der Möwennebel ist der bekannteste Teil. Ausschnitt aus dem DSS2 [147]

Physical Properties

This is an interstellar cloud of dust, molecules, hydrogen, helium and other ionised gases where new stars are being born. The whole nebula is also known under the designation Canis Majoris OB1 association (CMa OB1).

The main components of the Seagull are three large clouds of gas, the most distinctive being Sharpless 2-296, which forms the «wings». IC 2177 or SH 2-292 forms the «head of the seagull». The hydrogen glows brightly red due to the energetic radiation from embedded very hot young star HD 53367 (BD -10°1848) and becomes a HII region. HD 53367 is a Be type star with 20 times the mass of our Sun. It has a companion with 5 solar masses in a highly elliptical orbit. Light from the hot blue-white stars is also scattered off the tiny dust particles in the nebula to create a contrasting blue haze.

Dark lanes of dust interrupt the glowing clouds. These are parts of much denser material that hide some of the luminous gas behind them. Nebulae like this one have densities of a few hundred atoms per cubic centimetre, compared to the density of the surrounding nebula of about 1 atom per cubic centimetre.

The entire nebula is located about 3700 light-years away from earth and spans over 100 light-years across. [556, 557, 558]

Revised+Historic NGC/IC Version 22/9, © 2022 Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
Name RA Dec Type bMag vMag B-V SB Dim PA z D(z) MD Dreyer Description Identification, Remarks
NGC 2327 07 04 07.2 -11 18 51 RN 1 × 1 1.200 pB ** inv in S, vF, neb WH IV 25; h 428; GC 1487; CED 89B
NGC 2335 07 06 49.4 -10 01 43 OCL (III3m) 7.2 7 1.417 Cl, L, lC WH VIII 32; GC 1494; OCL 562
NGC 2343 07 08 06.7 -10 37 00 OCL (III3p) 6.7 6 1.056 Cl, cL, P, lC WH VIII 33; GC 1498; OCL 565
NGC 2353 07 14 30.3 -10 15 57 OCL (II2p) 7.1 18 1.119 Cl, L, lC, one vB * WH VIII 34; GC 1506; OCL 567
IC 2177 07 04 25.3 -10 27 13 EN 20 × 20 1.120 pB, eL, iR, v dif LBN 1027; vdB 93; Sh2-292; Be star

Finder Chart

The nebula IC 2177 is located between the constellations Monoceros and Canis Maior. The best season for observation is from October until March.

Finder Chart Seagull Nebula (IC 2177)
Seagull Nebula (IC 2177) in constellation Canis Maior. Charts created using SkySafari 6 Pro and STScI Digitized Sky Survey. Limiting magnitudes: Constellation chart ~6.5 mag, DSS2 close-ups ~20 mag. [149, 160]

Visual Observation

762 mm Aperture: The nebular part IC 2177 represents only the head of the whole Gull Nebula. The eye is a pair of double stars in a rather circular nebular part. This pair of stars also serves as starting point for the black line-shaped dark nebula, which arcs towards the star line starting above, which ends at two stars standing at right angles to the line. — 30" SlipStream-Dobson f/3.3, Hasliberg, 14. 2. 2023, Eduard von Bergen

Objects Within a Radius of 15°


  • [45] Astro-, Landschafts- und Reisefotografie sowie Teleskopbau, Manuel Jung;
  • [147] Aladin Lite;
  • [149] SkySafari 6 Pro, Simulation Curriculum;
  • [160] The STScI Digitized Sky Survey;
  • [270] «Catalogue of Bright Nebulae» Lynds, Beverly T.; Astrophysical Journal Supplement, vol. 12, p.163 (1965); DOI:10.1086/190123
  • [277] «Historische Deep-Sky Kataloge» von Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke; (2021-02-17)
  • [310] «A Catalogue of H II Regions» Stewart Sharpless, US Naval Observatory, 1959; DOI:10.1086/190049; Bibcode:1959ApJS....4..257S
  • [313] «A New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars, being the Catalogue of the late Sir John F.W. Herschel, Bart., revised, corrected, and enlarged» Dreyer, J. L. E. (1888); Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society. 49: 1–237; Bibcode:1888MmRAS..49....1D
  • [315] «Second Index Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars; containing objects found in the years 1895 to 1907, with Notes and Corrections to the New General Catalogue and to the Index Catalogue for 1888–94» Dreyer, J. L. E. (1910); Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society. 59: 105–198; Bibcode:1910MmRAS..59..105D
  • [463] «Catalogue of one thousand new nebulae and clusters of stars» William Herschel, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1 January 1786; DOI:10.1098/rstl.1786.0027
  • [466] «Observations of nebulæ and clusters of stars, made at Slough, with a twenty-feet reflector, between the years 1825 and 1833» John Frederick William Herschel, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1 January 1833, Pages: 359-505; DOI:10.1098/rstl.1833.0021
  • [467] «Catalogue of nebulae and clusters of stars» John Frederick William Herschel, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1 January 1864; DOI:10.1098/rstl.1864.0001;
  • [473] «Catalogue of Dark Nebulae» Lynds, Beverly T.; Astrophysical Journal Supplement, vol. 7, p.1 (1962); DOI:10.1086/190072; Bibcode:1962ApJS....7....1L
  • [554] «Nebulae which are not recorded in the Catalogues» Roberts, I.; Astronomische Nachrichten, volume 147, p.87, August 1898; DOI:10.1002/asna.18981470406; Bibcode:1898AN....147...87R
  • [555] «A Survey of Southern HII Regions» Gum, Colin S.; Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 67, p.155, 1955; Bibcode:1955MmRAS..67..155G
  • [556] eso1237 — Photo Release: The Rich Colours of a Cosmic Seagull; 26 September 2012; Richard Hook, ESO, La Silla, Paranal, E-ELT & Survey Telescopes Public Information Officer, Garching bei München, Germany; (2022-10-12)
  • [557] eso1306 — Photo Release: The Wings of the Seagull Nebula; 6 February 2013; Richard Hook, ESO, La Silla, Paranal, E-ELT & Survey Telescopes Press Officer, Garching bei München, Germany; (2022-10-12)
  • [558] eso1913 — Photo Release: «Anatomy of a Cosmic Seagull, ESO’s VST captures a celestial gull in flight» 7 August 2019; Mariya Lyubenova, ESO Head of Media Relations Team, Garching bei München, Germany; (2022-10-12)