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 - July 2016

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter
Mercury, Venus and Jupiter visible together in the evening sky from southern and tropical latitudes from July until September 2016

Moon and Jupiter
Jupiter and the waxing crescent Moon form a nice grouping on July 9, 2016 with an occultation visible from the southern tip of Africa

Moon, Mars, Saturn and Antares
The Moon, Mars and Saturn close together during evenings from July 14 to 16, 2016

Meteor Shower
Delta Aquariids (Aquarids) meteor showers peak on July 29, 2016

R Aquilae within binocular range
Mira type variable star R Aquilae (R Aql) now within binocular range

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for July 2016

Comet
PanSTARRS (C/2013 X1) a binocular and small telescope comet.

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Jupiter (mag. -1.8)
South:- Mars (mag. -1.4 to -0.8), Saturn (mag. +0.2)
Midnight
Southwest:- Mars, Saturn
Southeast:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
East:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
Morning
South:- Neptune
Southeast:- Uranus

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Venus (mag. -3.9), Mercury (mag. -1.2 to -0.2) both second half of the month
West:- Jupiter
Northeast:- Mars, Saturn
Midnight
West:- Mars, Saturn
Northeast:- Neptune
East:- Uranus
Morning
Northwest:- Neptune
North:- Uranus

Deep Sky
Naked Eye:-
Melotte 111 - Mel 111 - The Coma Star Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)
NGC 869 and NGC 884 - The Double Cluster - Open Clusters
Binoculars / Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 – M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 3 - M3 - Globular Cluster
Messier 81 - M81 - Bode's Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 82 - M82 - Cigar Galaxy (Starburst Galaxy)
Messier 27 - M27 - The Dumbbell Nebula (Planetary Nebula)

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