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 - January 2017

Conjunction
Mars passes just 1 arc minute south of Neptune on January 1, 2017

Comet
Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova now visible with small telescopes

Meteor Shower
Quadrantids meteor shower peaks on January 3, 2017

Minor Planet
Vesta now visible with binoculars and small telescopes. Reaches opposition on January 17, 2017

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for January 2017

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
Southwest:- Venus (mag. -4.4 to -4.7), Mars (mag. +0.9 to +1.1), Neptune (mag. +8.0)
South:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
Midnight
West:- Uranus
East:- Jupiter (mag. -1.9 to -2.1)
Morning
South:- Jupiter (mag. -1.8)
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.6), Mercury (mag. -0.2 second half of month)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Venus, Mars, Neptune
Northwest:- Uranus
Midnight
East:- Jupiter
Morning
Northeast:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn, Mercury (second half of month)

Deep Sky
Naked eye / binoculars:-
Messier 45 - M45 - The Pleiades (Open Cluster)
The Hyades - Open Cluster
NGC 869 and NGC 884 - The Double Cluster - Open Clusters
Messier 31 - M31 - Andromeda Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 42 - M42 - The Great Orion Nebula (Emission/Reflection)

Small telescopes:-
NGC 457 - Owl Cluster - Open Cluster
Messier 103 - M103 - Open Cluster
Messier 36 - M36 - Open Cluster
Messier 37 - M37 - Open Cluster
Messier 38 – M38 - Open Cluster

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