M27 - The Dumbbell Nebula in Vulpecula
Copyright 2002 John Hodge
M27 is a class of object known as a "planetary nebula" which gets its name from the fact that in a low power telescope, such as that used by its discoverer, Charles Messier, it looks like a nearly featureless disk...similar to the nearby planets in such telescopes. It was discovered in 1764 and was the first of a large number of similar objects found and cataloged. It was formed some 3000 to 4000 years ago when its central star blew off its outer layers of material in a titanic explosion. Estimates of its distance vary widely from around 1000 light years to over 3000. The Hubble space telescope is being used to determine a more accurate figure.
August 2002 Iwancio-Hodge
Observatory Bethune, SC
Instrument: SBIG ST-7 through 12" LX-200
Focal Ratio: f 10
Guiding: Auto via ST-7