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Astr112 Photography Projects, Fall 2007

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Crab Nebula - Michael Watson

Crab Nebula

Located in the constellation Taurus and approximately 6500 lightyears from earth, the Crab Nebula is the remnants of a supernova explosion. The Crab Nebula was discovered in 1731 by John Bevis, a British amateur astronomer. The supernova explosion that created the nebula was observed and noted in 1054 A.D. by Chinese astronomers as a "guest star" with a magnitude of -6, about four times brighter than Venus! In 1787, Charles Messier independently found the nebula while looking for Halley's comet; he initially mistook it for the comet, but soon realized it had no apparent motion. It was this discovery that led Messier to begin cataloging deep sky objects. As such, the Crab Nebula is designated "M1". A pulsar, which is the neutron star that remains from the original star, is at the Center of the nebula. This pulsar, which is equal to the sun in mass yet has a diameter of only a few kilometers, rotates at the incredible rate of 30 times per second!

This photograph of the Crab Nebula is a compilation of ten images taken by the Calvin-Rehoboth telescope, all in the clear filter, on October 23, 2007. The cloud of expanding gas seen in the image consists mostly of hydrogen but the filaments in the outer portion also contain some neutral oxygen, singly-ionized sulfur, and doubly-ionized oxygen. The Crab Nebula is nearly ten lightyears across, a large and beautiful object that demonstrates the glory and magnificence of God's creation. It remains one of the most famous and observed objects in the night sky.


"Messier 1." Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m001.html.

"Crab Nebula". The Nine Planets. http://astro.nineplanets.org/twn/n1952x.html

Right Ascension (J2000) 05h 34m 30.0s
Declination (J2000) +22°01'00"
Filters used clear (C)
Exposure time per filter 10x120 seconds
Date observed

October 23, 2007