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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 - February 2016

Comets
Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) now fading as it recedes from Earth. Currently moving through the far northern constellations. Remains visible with binoculars and small telescopes.

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2013 X1) a possible naked eye comet later this year now visible with binoculars in the evening sky

Mercury apparition
Mercury reaches greatest elongation west on February 7, 2016

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for February 2016

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Uranus (mag. +5.9)
East:- Jupiter (mag. -2.5)
Midnight
South:- Jupiter
Morning
West:- Jupiter
South:- Mars (mag. +0.6), Saturn (mag. +0.6)
Southeast:- Venus (mag. -3.9), Mercury (mag. -0.1 first part of month)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Uranus
East:- Jupiter
Midnight
North:- Jupiter
East:- Mars, Saturn
Morning
Northwest:- Jupiter
Northeast:- Mars, Saturn
East:- Venus, Mercury

Deep Sky
Naked Eye:-
Messier 45 - M45 - The Pleiades (Open Cluster)
Caldwell 41 - C41 - The Hyades - Open Cluster
Messier 42 - M42 - The Great Orion Nebula (Emission/Reflection)
Melotte 111 - Mel 111 - The Coma Star Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)

Binoculars / Small Scopes:-
Messier 35 – M35 - Open Cluster
Messier 41 - M41 - Open Cluster
Messier 46 - M46 - Open Cluster
Messier 47 - M47 - Open Cluster

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