Cat's Paw Nebula (NGC 6334)

NGC 6334
NGC 6334: Cat's Paw Nebula with dark nebula Barnard 257 in Scorpius; Takahashi TOA 150/1100 APO-Refractor @ f/5.6 (TOA-645 Reducer); SBIG STL-11000M; Astro-Physics 1200GTO; 32x5 min, -25 °C; Namibia, Tivoli Southern Sky Guest Farm, 1360 m AMSL; © 3. 9. 2016 Manuel Jung [45]
NGC 6334 + NGC 6357
NGC 6334 + NGC 6357: Cat's Paw Nebula and Lobster (or War & Peace) Nebula; Takahashi FSQ 106/530mm; SBIG STL11000M/C2; R 9x10 min; G 8x10 min; B 9x10 min; -25 °C; Astrofarm Tivoli, Namibia; © 2012 Hansjörg Wälchli [46]
NGC 6334
NGC 6334: Cat's Paw Nebula; 400 mm Keller Hypergraph f=3200 mm; SBIG STL11000M/C2; Ha 10x20 min; R 7x10 min; G 7x10 min; B 6x10 min; -25 °C; Astrofarm Tivoli, Namibia; © 9. Juni 2011 Hansjörg Wälchli [46]
NGC 6334
NGC 6334: Galactic Nebula in Scorpius; Takahashi Sky 90mm; Reducer 407mm; Canon EOS 20Da; Vixen Sphinx; 302s; Namibia, Hakos Farm; © August 2005 Eduard von Bergen [30]


The nebula was discovered by John Herschel on 7 June 1837, when he was in South Africa exploring the southern sky with his homemade 18¼ inch reflecting telescope. He catalogued the nebula as h 3678 or GC 4288, noting: «Extremely faint, very large, irregular considerably extended, very gradually little brighter following, stars of 8th magnitude involved.» [467] Dreyer then adopted the nebula including the description in 1888 as NGC 6334 in his «New General Catalogue». [313]

Thanks to its appearance, NGC 6334 later received the nickname «Cat's Paw Nebula» or more rarely «Bear Claw Nebula».

NGC 6334
NGC 6334: Infrared image of the Cat's Paw Nebula with ESO's VISTA survey telescope. [520]

Physical Properties

This is one of the most active star-forming regions, consisting of luminous H-II regions and dark clouds, which extends over almost 1° in the sky. It contains young, massive stars, up to ten times the mass of the Sun. [520] The distance is estimated to be about 1132 pc. [145]

Revised+Historic NGC/IC Version 22/9, © 2022 Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
Designation NGC 6334
Type EN
Right Ascension (J2000.0) 17h 20m 48.0s
Declination (J2000.0) -36° 06' 12"
Diameter 35 × 20 arcmin
Metric Distance 1.700 kpc
Dreyer Description cF, vL, icE, vglbf, * 8 inv
Identification, Remarks h 3678; GC 4288; ESO 392-EN9; Sh2-8; CED 140

Finder Chart

The nebula NGC 6334 is located above scorpios sting in the constellation Scorpius. The best time to observe it is during the months of April to August, when this part of the constellation is highest above the southern horizon at night. An observation site with an unobstructed view to the south is required here, because the nebula has a declnination of -36° and rises just 11° above the horizon in Switzerland when it is in the meridian.

Finder Chart Cat's Paw Nebula (NGC 6334)
Cat's Paw Nebula (NGC 6334) in constellation Scorpius. 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

500 mm Aperture: In the 27 mm Panoptic eyepiece (87x) and with an O-III filter, several of the nebulae are clearly visible even when they are low on the horizon. — 20" f/4.7 Ursus Dobson, Astrofarm Tivoli, Namibia, 11. 9. 2023, Bernd Nies

Objects Within a Radius of 15°