M57 - The Ring Nebula in Lyra

Copyright 2003 John Hodge

M57 is a smoke ring...the gaseous remnants of the outer layers of a star blown off by a convulsion as it neared the end of its nuclear-burning life.  This type of nebula is known as a "planetary nebula" because it could easily be mistaken by a casual observer as a planet due to its round shape and apparent size.  The remaining core of the original star shines at magnitude 15 in the center of the complex and is a planet-sized white dwarf which was probably sun-like in size during its normal lifetime.  It was discovered in 1800.   M57 lies at a distance of approximately 2300 light years. 



Date/Location:    April 26, 2003     Iwancio-Hodge Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    SBIG ST-7 through 12" LX-200 
Focal Ratio:   f 3.3
Guiding:    Auto via ST-7
Conditions:    Visually clear, but with moderate high level water vapor
Weather:    50 degrees F
Exposure: 1 x 5 minutes
Filters:    None