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M27 The Dumbell Nebula

M27 is one of the most photographed objects in the sky. It is certainly one of the brightest and most beautiful. It is a public star party favorite.

This nebula was created by a dying star. As a star runs out of hydrogen fuel, it cools and contracts. When critical mass is reached to burn heavier elements a hot fusion fire expands the star and it pushes its outer gases into space. This cycle repeats itself over and over until the star becomes a "white dwarf".

The central star, measured to be magnitude 13.9, is clearly visible in both photographs here.

C14, F6.3 FR, ST7 CCD Camera, 5min RGB

We estimate this "planetary nebula" to be about 20,000 years old. It is 1500 light years across and lies 300 light years distant.

It's interesting to note the difference in color provided by the CCD image and on film. I suspect that the CCD image is a more accurate representation of the actual color. Film tends to be more sensitive to reds than blues.


C8 at F 6.3 Kodak RG 1000 Film
20 minute exposure