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.   



Date/Location:    August 2002     Iwancio-Hodge Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    SBIG ST-7 through 12" LX-200 
Focal Ratio:   f 10
Guiding:    Auto via ST-7
Filters:    None