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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 - April 2015

Lunar Eclipse
Total Lunar Eclipse of April 4th, 2015

Bright Nova
Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2 - binoculars

Bright Comet
Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2)
Cassiopeia, 7th magnitude.
Northern Hemisphere - Visible with binoculars and small telescopes, high in sky early evening.
Southern Hemisphere - Not visible.

Lyrids meteor shower peaks on April 22nd (up to 20 meteors per hour visible)

The Planets
This Month's Guide
Northern Hemisphere
Early evening
West:- Venus (mag. -4.1), Mars (mag. +1.4 first 3 weeks of month), Mercury (mag. -1.0 last week of month)
South:- Jupiter (mag. -2.2)
Evening
West:- Venus
Southwest:- Jupiter
Midnight
East:- Saturn (mag. +0.2)
West:- Jupiter
Morning
Southwest:- Saturn

Southern Hemisphere
Early evening
Northwest:- Venus
North:- Jupiter
Evening
Northwest:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
Midnight
West:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
Early Morning
Northeast:- Saturn
East:- Neptune (mag. +8.0)

Deep Sky
Naked Eye:-
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)
Binoculars/small scopes:-
Messier 3 - M3 - Globular Cluster
Medium size telescopes:-
Messier 81 - M81 - Bode's Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 82 - M82 - Cigar Galaxy (Starburst Galaxy)
Messier 65 – M65 – Spiral Galaxy
Messier 66 - M66 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy

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