Messier 27 - M27 - The Dumbbell Nebula (Planetary Nebula)

The Dumbbell Nebula or M27 is a showpiece object that is a popular visual and imaging target for amateur astronomers. It is arguably the finest planetary nebula in the night sky and the first of its type to be discovered. The name derives from its resemblance to a dumbbell shape; likewise it has also been compared to an apple core or an hourglass figure. With an apparent mag. of +7.4 it is the second brightest planetary nebula in the sky; only the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) in Aquarius is marginally brighter. However, the Dumbbell Nebula has a higher surface brightness and therefore the easier target to locate.

M27 The Dumbbell Nebula (ESO)

Finder Chart for M27 (also shown M71)

Finder Chart for M27 (also shown M71) - pdf format

M27 is found in the constellation of Vulpecula, easily visible in 10x50 binoculars, appearing as a small oblong shaped patch of light. With 15x70 binoculars it is much larger and brighter with a distinct central region surrounded by fainter outer regions. An 80mm (3.1-inch) telescope will show the famous hourglass shape especially when using averted vision. With larger telescopes M27 displays more intricate surface details. It is a wonderful sight when viewed through a 200mm (8-inch) telescope and as with many objects of this type a nebula filter often enhances the view.

M27 was discovered by Charles Messier on July 12, 1764 and is located 1360 light-years from Earth. It has apparent dimensions of 8.0 x 5.6 arcminutes.

M27 Data Table

NameDumbbell Nebula
Object TypePlanetary Nebula
Distance (kly)1.36
Apparent Mag.7.4
RA (J2000)19h 59m 36s
DEC (J2000)22d 43m 17s
Apparent Size (arcmins)8.0 x 5.6
Radius (light years)1.44

Sky Highlights - October 2015

Meteor shower
Draconids meteor shower peaks on October 8, 2015

Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10)
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) edges towards naked eye visibility

Mercury at its best in the morning
Mercury reaches greatest elongation west on October 16, 2015

Uranus at opposition
Uranus reaches opposition on October 12, 2015

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Northern Hemisphere
Southwest:- Saturn (mag. +0.6)
Southeast:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
East:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
Southwest:- Neptune
South:- Uranus
West:- Uranus
East:- Venus (mag. -4.5), Mars (mag. +1.8), Jupiter (mag. -1.8), Mercury (mag. -0.9 after 1st week)

Southern Hemisphere
West:- Saturn
East:- Neptune, Uranus
Northwest:- Neptune
North:- Uranus
West:- Uranus
East:- Venus, Mars, Jupiter

Deep Sky
Binoculars/small scopes:-
Messier 31 - M31 - Andromeda Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
NGC 869 and NGC 884 - The Double Cluster - Open Clusters
NGC 457 - Owl Cluster - Open Cluster
Messier 52 - M52 - Open Cluster
Messier 15 – M15 - Globular Cluster
NGC 752 - Open Cluster
Messier 39 - M39 - Open Cluster
Messier 29 – M29 – Open Cluster
Messier 57 - M57 - The Ring Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
Messier 27 - M27 - The Dumbbell Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
47 Tucanae - NGC 104 - Globular Cluster

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