Click here for a higher resolution image of M 108 and M 97 (832 KB)



The Details
M 108 and M 97 in Ursa Major
Astro-Physics 160 EDF refractor at f/7.7 with dedicated field flattener
Astro-Physics 1200 GTO
Tru-Balance LRGB filter set
13 May 2007
White Mountains - Inyo County, Eastern California
L 7 x 600 sec 1x1 bin; RGB 6 x 300 sec, 2x2 bin
Maxim DL/CCD, Registar, Photoshop CS2
Field of View: 01°12' x 00°52' centered on RA 11h13m12s
DEC+55°16’36” (2000.0) . North angle 275.68°; east 90° CCW from north

A Study in Cosmic Scale

This image showcases two distinctly different type objects contrasted against background space. In the upper left corner is a near edge-on spiral galaxy known as Messier 108, a dust-choked conglomeration of billions of stars in the Ursa Major Local Group of galaxies. M 108 is a sky island unto itself lying 45 million light years from Earth and having a span of over 100,000 light years in dimension from end to end along its major axis. Closer to home and in our own Milky Way galaxy is the beautiful planetary nebula M 97, shown in the lower right portion of the frame. Also known as the Owl Nebula, this ghostly apparition is well known to amateur astronomers for its distinctive shape and “eyes” resembling the head of an owl. At a distance of only about 2600 light years and an actual diameter of 1.5 light years (9 trillion miles!), the Owl Nebula is a tiny structure literally in our backyard when compared to the distant M 108. Yet closer, the brightest star in the field, above and slightly right of M 97, is a mere 328 light years from our planet. Although the brightness of this star overwhelms its neighbors, it shines at an apparent magnitude of 6.63 and would be a challenge object for naked eye observers of average visual acuity at a dark sky site. To add further to the lesson on Cosmic Scale, closer examination reveals that scattered across this image are a great number of faint, distant galaxies even deeper into the Universe than M 108.




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