M57 in the constellation, Lyra, is a planetary nebula. Added to Charles Messier’s catalog in January of 1779 who described it as “a dull nebula, but perfectly outlined; as large as Jupiter and looks like a fading planet.” Planetary nebula are not planets, but they are dying stars emitting gases. The particular star that caused this can be seen in the middle of the nebula at 15 magnitude; it is a white dwarf star, and is the remainder of a sunlike star. The central region is dark due to emitting UV light, and the green color is caused by oxygen and nitrogen while the outer red region is hydrogen. The distance is not well known; more about the distance can be read in the link below on the Messier Catalog.
‘X’ marks the location of M57
This nebula is very small in the eyepiece, but on a clear night it can be seen shining almost looking like a little cheerio in the sky, or a smoke ring. The starfield around it can sometimes wash out the view, or even a thin layer of clouds can make this a hard target to spot. Given some close bright stars making of the constellation, Lyra, it can be easily located.
M57 – The Ring Nebula 05-30-13
This image is 62 light frames at 45 seconds a piece, ISO 800 with 40 darks. The main image was one stack and process, and the larger image in the upper left corner was another stack with a 2x drizzle applied to it, and then cropped and placed in this image for a slightly larger view.
For last years attempt at the ring nebula click through to the post here.
I get all my Deep Sky object information from The Messier Catalog.
Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Modded Canon 350D
T-ring and adapter
Polar Scope for alignment
Found in the constellation of Lyra – The Harp, is the planetary nebula, M57. Although called a planetary nebula, it is not caused by a planet, but a star. This particular one was caused by a red giant star which released a shell of ionized gas expanding into the interstellar medium. The Ring Nebula has a magnitude of 8.8 and an angular size of 1.5z1 arcminute, too small to see with binoculars, but visible with a small telescope of 4 inches.
First discovered by French astronomer Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix in January of 1779; it was then independently discovered by Charles Messier a month later. Both Charles Messier and William Herschel believed M57 to be comprised of multiple faint stars, but were unresolvable in their small telescopes.
‘X’ Marks the spot for M57.
My Observation: With the 25mm at a magnification of 30x this small ring shaped object looks to be a bright gray color, but very small in size. Easily overlooked as just another star, but once you focus on it – especially with averted vision – you can make out that it is a ring shaped object. Remind me a lot of a Cheerio, or a Donut. Stepping up the magnification to the 12.5mm giving me a magnification of 60x, M57 doesn’t lose any brightness, but gains in size. It’s shape, and the fact that it’s not another star in the eyepiece, is much more visible. Looking like a smoke ring from a cigar smoker, it’s just about perfectly round.
M57 – The Ring Nebula. 5-12-12. Click to Enlarge.
This is 18 images at 30 seconds a piece, ISO1600 stacked with 15 darks and 20 bias frames. I could have probably gotten away with doing it at ISO800, and still maintaining the colors I got. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processing in Gimp.