Click here to see a monochrome image of M27 in hydrogen-alpha light

 

 

The Details
Object
M27 The Dumbbell Nebula in Vulpecula
Optics
Celestron C-14 at f/6.9
Platform
Astro-Physics 1200 GTO
Camera
SBIG ST-8XE
Filters
SBIG LRGB filter set
Date
09 July 2002 (L frames), 10 September 2002 (RGB frames)
Location
Grandview Campground, White Mountains, CA
Figueroa Mountain Lookout, Santa Barbara County, CA
Exposure
L 10 x 300 sec 1x1 bin; RG 2 x 600 sec, B 2 x 960 sec 2x2 bin
Software
Maxim DL/CCD, Registar, Photoshop CS
Orientation
Field of View: 12’18" x 08’53" centered on RA 19h59m49s
DEC 22°44’03”. North angle 359.3°; east 90° CCW from north
Notes
The Dumbbell Nebula was discovered on July 12, 1794 by Charles Messier, who described it as an oval nebula without stars. It turns out that this was the first planetary nebula to be discovered, although Messier never knew its true nature. At 1200 light years distant, this fine object gives us a foreshadowing of what is in store for our Sun in the distant future after it passes through its Red Giant phase. There are some interesting stellar features in this object. The bright central star (Vm=13.5), a hot dwarf at about 85,000°K, is actually the primary star in a binary system. The secondary can be seen in the above image at a 214° PA and 6.5" separation from the central star. Also, in a 1 o'clock direction from the central star, just inside the outline of the nebula, a red star can be seen. This star, nicknamed the "Goldilock's Variable" was discovered by an amateur astronomer quite by chance while looking at two images of M27 taken several months apart, the first appearing in the June 1990 issue of Astronomy magazine and the second in the Autumn 1990 publication of Deep Sky. This particular star was easily visible in one image but lacking in the other, causing the amateur to postulate about its variability. It turns out he was exactly correct and the star is now officially known as V XXX Vul, a Mira-type long term variable.

This image of M27 was one of my earliest attempts at digital imaging.

 

 

 

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