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Astr112 Photography Projects, Spring 2006

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Owl Nebula (M97), David Geleijnse

Owl Nebula

The Owl Nebula is a fascinating astronomical object. It was first annotated in early 1781 by none other than the one and only Pierre Méchain. It was identified as a planetary nebula by Admiral William H. Smyth a whole 63 years later in the inimitable grouping of 365 1/4 days that we call a year - 1844. It took another 4 entire years before the great Willliam Parsons, the Third Earl of Rosse decided to name it "The Owl Nebula". He drew a picture of it, which is found on one of the sources listed below. One unparalleled astronomer who wishes to remain completely anonymous described it as looking like a bumble bee. Personally, I think it looks like a front view of pac man who has undergone significant neurological and chemical trauma.

The image as displayed above looks more like a seedy dandelion head or an arrogant snowflake. It's a little red, however. A planetary nebula is created by a dead star which lets out a lot of gas around its core which becomes the central star of the nebula. Planetary nebulae are emission nebulae. The distance is 2600 lightyears. The angular size is about 3 arcminutes. Therefore, the linear size is 2.3 lightyears.

References:
Messier Object 97
Lord Rosse's drawings of M97
Nebulae

Right Ascension (J2000) 11:14:08
Declination (J2000) 55:01:06
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 300 seconds in CBVR
Date observed

March 13, 2006 (VR)
March 30, 2006 (C)
April 08, 2006 (B)