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

Collinder 399 – Al Sufi’s Cluster, Brocchi’s Cluster, The Coathanger

Bordering between the constellations, Vulpecula and Sagitta. This randomly formed cluster of stars forms the shape of a coathanger giving it it’s common name, The Coathanger. Discovered in 964 by a Persian astronomer by the name of Al Sufi, and mentioned in his book, Book of Fixed Stars. Later it was idependently rediscovered by an Italian astronomer named Hodierna in the 17th century. In 1920 an amateur astronomer named Brocchi created a map of the Coathanger and used it for calibrating his photometers. In 1931 a Swedish astronomer named Collinder added this to his catalog of open clusters.

Enlarge image, the coathanger can be seen near the middle of the screen shot.

Enlarge image, the coathanger can be seen near the middle of the screen shot.

These stars are were though to be an open cluster up until the late 20th century when it was determined that it is not an open cluster, but just a chance alignment of stars. 10 stars make up the Coathanger and they range from 5th to 7th magnitude with a straight line of 6 stars and 4 forming the hook. In dark enough skies this can be seen with the unaided eye or with a pair of binoculars. This large object is best seen with low magnification since the higher magnification used the more stars of the cluster are cut off from the asterism itself.

Coathanger without street light blocked

Coathanger without street light blocked

Coathanger with street light blocked

Coathanger with street light blocked

 

 

 

 

 

 

These images were taken from my front yard where I have a very bright street light. Two images above show a comparison of me blocking the light from the street light while imaging, and the other image shows an image without blocking the light. Neither image has been edited, only converted from a RAW file to a JPEG.

Collinder 399. 07-06-13

The above image is only 4 images with an exposure of 1 minute a piece, and ISO 800, I used 25 dark frames to remove as much noise as possible.

Screenshot 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

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.