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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

Messier27
NGC6853
NameDumbbell Nebula
Object TypePlanetary Nebula
ConstellationVulpecula
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 - August 2015

Meteor Shower
Perseids meteor shower peaks on August 13, 2015

Bright Variable Star
Chi Cygni (χ Cyg) visible with the naked eye during August 2015

The Planets
This Month's Guide
Northern Hemisphere
Evening
South:- Saturn (mag. +0.4)
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Midnight
West:- Saturn
South:- Neptune
East:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
Morning
West:- Neptune
South:- Uranus
East:- Mars (+1.8), Venus (mag. -4.2 - end of month)

Southern Hemisphere
Early Evening
West:- Venus, Jupiter (first 10 days)
West:- Mercury (mag. -0.5)
North:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
Midnight
West:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
East:- Uranus
Morning
West:- Neptune
North:- Uranus
East:- Mars, Venus (middle of month)

Deep Sky
Binoculars/small scopes:-
Messier 13 – M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 5 - M5 - Globular Cluster
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)
Messier 57 - M57 - The Ring Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
Messier 27 - M27 - The Dumbbell Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 22 - M22 - Sagittarius Cluster (Globular Cluster)

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