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. 

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula

Discovered by Charles Messier on July 12, 1764 which he described as an oval nebula without any stars. We see this nebula on it’s equatorial plane in the constellation, Vulpecula. If we saw it from one of it’s poles it would possibly take on the same shape as M57 – The Ring Nebula. With a diameter of roughly 6 arc minutes, and a fainter region expanding upwards of 15 arc minutes, makes it one of the brighter planetary nebula in the sky at a magnitude 7.4. The distance of the nebula is not very well known, but is estimated by most at 1360 light years from Earth. The central star of M27, which formed the beautiful nebula, is at a much dimmer magnitude, 13.5.

Location of M27 in Vulpecula.

Location of M27 in Vulpecula.

This nebula is actually quite bright considering it’s size making it quite easy to spot in most backyard telescopes. Colors are not visible, but you can make out the dumbbell shape of the brighter portions of the nebula.

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula 09-26-13

This image is 57 light frames at 2 minutes a piece and ISO 800, 33 dark frames, 35 flat frames, 46 bias frames. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, and post processing in Photoshop.

All my Messier Object information from: The Messier Catalog. Screen shot of object location taken in Stellarium. Image stacking in Deep Sky Stacker.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Modded Canon 350D
T-ring and adapter
Intervalometer
Polar Scope for alignment

M57 – The Ring Nebula

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

‘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.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Modded Canon 350D
T-ring and adapter
Intervalometer
Polar Scope for alignment

M97 and M108 – Planetary Nebula & Galaxy

M97 is one of the fainter Messier objects in his catalog located in the constellation Ursa Major. M97, also known as the Owl Nebula due to it’s circular shape and the two black holes that look like owl eyes, is a complex planetary nebula. The central star which caused the nebula is estimated at 16 magnitude, and is believed to be about 0.7 solar masses. The Owl Nebula is significantly brighter visually than it is photographically because most of the light that is emitted is in a single green spectral line. Visually this nebula is estimated between 9.7 and 9.9 magnitude – very hard to see in light polluted skies – and is estimated to be 12th magnitude photographically.

M108 is an edge-on spiral galaxy near the star Beta Ursa Majoris. This galaxy appears to have no bulge or significantly pronounced core; it is a detail-rich disk. Although faint at around 9.4 magnitude it is an easy object to spot, and I can say that it was easier to locate than M97. M108 has little evidence of well defined spiral arms, and is considered part of the the Ursa Major Cloud of galaxies.

M97 was discovered by Pierre Méchain on February 16, 1781, but was not included in Charles Messier’s printed catalog of 1781, but he had descriptions of it in his manuscript personal pre-print version.

M108 also discovered by Pierre Méchain on February 19, 1781, only three days after discovering M97. Charles Messier listed this object as “98” in his preliminary manuscript version of his catalog, but failed to include the objects location.

'X' marks the spot of M97 and M108

‘X’ marks the spot of M97 and M108

Honestly through my eyepiece in my light pollution I was able to make out M108 and with enough staring and using averted vision I was just barely able to make out M97, but knowing the look of the stars near M97 I knew I was in the right place. I could have easily over looked both of these objects if I was just quickly scanning the skies.

M97 and M108 03-09-13

This image is 36 images at 2 minutes a piece, ISO 800, and 25 dark frames. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post-processing done in Photoshop.

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Canon 350D
T-ring and adapter
Intervalometer
Polar Scope for alignment

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula

M27 is located in the constellation Vulpecula and lies at about a distance of 1300 light years from Earth. It was the first planetary nebula discovered by Charles Messier in 1764 while he was compiling his list of objects that, to him, looked like comets. The dumbbell nebula has a visual magnitude of 7.5 with a diameter of 8 arcminutes. Easily spotted in binoculars and small telescopes, and starts to show more detail in larger scopes.

‘X’ Marks the spot of M27

William Herschel named these “Planetary Nebula” because the green tint surrounding them reminded him of his discovery of the planet Uranus. He guessed that this was a newly forming solar system, but as we know now it is the result of a moderate to small star when it reaches old age. After a star uses up all it’s hydrogen the cores shrink, heat up, and they start to burn helium. After the core collapses into a white dwarf star, the outer parts expand into space and form a shell.

My Observation: The few planetary nebula I have seen have definitely made them one of my favorite deep space objects. Once centered in with my telescope at a magnification of 30x this planetary nebula is very prominent and stands out quite bright against it’s dark star filled background. At this magnification I didn’t notice the central white dwarf star, but I could make out the apparent ‘dumbbell’ shape which it got it’s nickname from.

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula

M27 – Dumbbell Nebula. This is a re-edit of the same data used in the above image.

This image is a stack of 41 images at 30 seconds a piece and ISO800. Stacked in deep sky stacker, and edited and composited in Gimp. I did two different edits and layer masked them to bring out the red and the green colors. Taken with a Canon 350D prime focus through my Omni XLT 150.