Dark Doodad (Sandqvist 149) + Globular Cluster NGC 4372

Dark Doodad
Dark Doodad: Dark nebula in Musca (Fly); Borg 90 FL - Fluorite doublet APO Refraktor, f=360 mm; CANON 6D (Baader modified); Rainbow Astro RST135E harmonic drive mount; 12 x 600 Sec @ 200 ISO; Astrofarm Tivoli, Namibia; © April 2024 Hansjörg Wälchli [46]
Dark Doodad
Dark Doodad: Dark cloud in Musca with globular cluster NGC 4372; Canon EF 135 mm f/2.0 L USM at f/3.5; Canon EOS 6Da; 37x1 min ISO 3200; Namibia, Kiripotib Astrofarm, 1350 m ASL; © 9. 7. 2013 Manuel Jung [45]

Dark Doodad Nebula

The dark nebula was discovered in 1977 by Swedish astronomer Aage Sandqvist during a study for dark dust clouds of high visual opacity of the ESO (B) Atlas, which was taken with the ESO 1 m Schmidt telescope at La Silla, Chile. Individual patches of this molecular cloud were listed as numbers 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 149, 151, 152 in his publication. [657] Although Sandqvist 145 is listed as the largest cloud, Simbad lists for Sandqvist 149 the most bibliographical references (14). Hence it is considered as the main designation for the whole molecular cloud.

The nickname «Dark Doodad» is credited to Dennis DiCicco, American astronomer and former member of the editorial staff of «Sky and Telescope» magazine, while he was in Australia observing Halley’s Comet in 1986. [658] A «doodad» is a slang expression for an item or article that one does not know the name of. Sometimes the nebula is just referred as «Musca Nebula» or «Musca Dark Nebula».

It is a narrow molecular cloud stretching approximately 3° across the sky. With an estimated distance of 700 light-years it is relatively close. Given that distance the cloud is over 30 light-years long. [658]

Data from Sandqvists publication, J2000.0 coordinates from Simbad [145, 657]
Right Ascension
Sandqvist 141 12 23 24 -72 22 01 0.033 4
Sandqvist 143 12 25 48 -71 40 58 0.036 4
Sandqvist 145 12 31 29 -71 03 36 0.072 6
Sandqvist 146 12 35 54 -70 37 01 0.022 5
Sandqvist 147 12 36 56 -69 30 42 0.012 5
Sandqvist 149 12 37 09 -69 59 54 0.005 6
Sandqvist 151 12 40 55 -69 52 18 0.004 6
Sandqvist 152 12 47 30 -69 15 00 0.004 6

Globular Cluster NGC 4372

The globular cluster NGC 4372 was discovered on 30 April 1826 by James Dunlop using his 9-inch f/12 speculum reflector from Parramatta, NSW. He listed it as object number (D 67) and wrote the following:

«A star of the 6th magnitude, with a beautiful well-defined milky ray proceeding from it south following; the ray is conical, and the star appears in the point of the cone, and the broad or south following extremity is circular, or rounded off. The ray is about 7' in length, and nearly 2' in breadth at the broadest part, near the southern extremity. With the sweeping power this appears like a star with a very faint milky ray south following, the ray gradually spreading in breadth from the star, and rounded off at the broader end. But with a higher power it is not a star with a ray, but a very faint nebula, and the star is not involved or connected with it: I should call it a very faint nebula of a long oval shape, the smaller end towards the star; this is easily resolvable into extremely minute points or stars, but I cannot discover the slightest indications of attraction or condensation towards any part of it. I certainly had not the least suspicion of this object being resolvable when I discovered it with the sweeping power, nor even when I examined it a second time; it is a beautiful object, of a uniform faint light.» [50]

Revised+Historic NGC/IC Version 22/9, © 2022 Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
Designation NGC 4372
Type GCL (XII)
Right Ascension (J2000.0) 12h 25m 45.4s
Declination (J2000.0) -72° 39' 31"
Diameter 5 arcmin
Visual magnitude 7.2 mag
Metric Distance 5.800 kpc
Dreyer Description globular, pF, L, R, st 12…16
Identification, Remarks h 3390; GC 2927; GCL 19; ESO 64-SC6

Finder Chart

The dark nebula Sandqvist 143 (Dark Doodad) and globular cluster NGC 4372 are located in the constellation Musca near 3.8 mag star γ Muscae. At a declination of -71° these are thus not visible from the northern hemisphere. On 26 March it in opposition with the Sun and is therefore highest in the sky at local midnight.

Finder Chart Dark Doodad (Sandqvist 149) + Globular Cluster NGC 4372
Dark Doodad (Sandqvist 149) + Globular Cluster NGC 4372 in constellation Musca. 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]

Objects Within a Radius of 15°


  • [45] Astro-, Landschafts- und Reisefotografie sowie Teleskopbau, Manuel Jung; sternklar.ch
  • [46] Astrofotografie mit Hansjörg Wälchli; upsky.ch
  • [50] «VIII. A catalogue of nebulæ and clusters of stars in the southern hemisphere, observed at Paramatta in New South Wales, by James Dunlop, Esq. In a letter addressed to Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane, Bart. K. C. B. late Governor of New South Wales. Presented to the Royal Society by John Frederick William Herschel, Esq. Vice President» James Dunlop;Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Volume 118, pages 113-151, published 1 January 1828; DOI:10.1098/rstl.1828.0010
  • [145] SIMBAD astronomical database; simbad.u-strasbg.fr/simbad
  • [149] SkySafari 6 Pro, Simulation Curriculum; skysafariastronomy.com
  • [160] The STScI Digitized Sky Survey; archive.stsci.edu/cgi-bin/dss_form
  • [277] «Historische Deep-Sky Kataloge» von Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke; klima-luft.de/steinicke (2021-02-17)
  • [657] «More southern dark dust clouds» Sandqvist, Aa.; Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 57, p. 467-470 (1977); Bibcode:1977A&A....57..467S
  • [658] Dark Doodad; astronomy.com/science/dark-doodad (2024-04-25)