M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula (New Astronomy Gear)

On the night of July 29, 2017 I imaged Messier object 27, or M27, also known as the Dumbbell Nebula. M27 is a planetary nebula, which is an expanding shell of ionized gas being ejected from a star. The Dumbbell nebula can be found in the constellation Vulpecula, and was the first planetary nebula discovered on July 12, 1764 by Charles Messier. From our viewpoint here on Earth we view this object along its equatorial plane, perhaps if we saw it from one of its poles it may look more like M57, the Ring Nebula. Fortunately we see it at an angle that allows us to see both its North and South poles.

M27 is approximately 1.25 thousand light years away (being a planetary nebula it is hard to measure exact distance, so this is just an average) at a magnitude of 7.4. The central star, which is the star that forms this nebula, is a magnitude 13.5 and is an extremely hot blueish subdwarf dwarf star with a temperature of 85,000 Kelvin (84,726.85 Celsius, or 152,540.33 Fahrenheit). Going with a distance of 1200 light years that would mean that the luminosity of this nebula is around 100 times brighter than our own Sun.

M27, the Dumbbell Nebula in Vulpecula

This image of M27 was taken with a non-modified Canon T3i, at ISO 800, and 8×5 minute exposures. I had taken 19 images total, but guiding errors resulted in elongated stars which I threw out in order to get the best quality I could. I used a Celestron 8″ Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope on a CG-5 mount. Autoguiding with an Orion Starshoot Autoguider and a 50mm guidescope. I do plan on increasing the magnification of the guidescope to get better autoguiding. This is approximately 75x magnification, compared to the roughly 25x magnification I had previously imaged of M27 object with my 6″ Newtonian.

All editing done in Pixinsight. This is the first time in a while that I have used Pixinsight for editing, so I’m still trying to get the hang of it. 

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