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Contains:  Ring nebula in Lyra, M 57, NGC 6720, IC 1296
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The Ring Nebula, M57, 


            Jeff McClure
The Ring Nebula, M57

The Ring Nebula, M57

Technical card

Resolution: 773x618 job: 683235

RA center: 283.399 degrees

DEC center: 33.028 degrees

Pixel scale: 0.791 arcsec/pixel

Orientation: 89.573 degrees

Field radius: 0.109 degrees

Locations: Texas Star Party - Prude Ranch, Fort Davis, TX, United States


This is the Ring Nebula, aka Messier 57 (M57). It is a planetary nebula, which has nothing to do with planets, but is called that because to early astronomers they looked like planets. In the center of the nebula is a tiny white dot. That dot is a white dwarf remnant of a star that was once not unlike our own sun. Smaller stars, like ours, when they get really old run out of hydrogen to burn and start burning heavier elements. At some point they get a bad case of indigestion and blow up, producing planetary nebulas.
The red around the outside of the nebula is energized hydrogen (hydrogen alpha), while the blue in inner sections is energized oxygen (oxygen III). The faint yellow tinge is elemental sulfur. When the star blew up, it fused together smaller atoms into a LOT of oxygen. This is where oxygen comes from, including the stuff you are breathing; stars blowing up and dying. The excited elementary shells are expanding outward, and as they get farther away from the rapidly spinning and intensely radiating white dwarf, will both dissipate and cease to glow. Eventually the elements will become part of a a larger cloud that will coalesce into a protostar disk. Then, some of that oxygen will become part of a planet, but that will be in a long, long time.
M57 is about 2,300 light years away, which means that it very well may not be glowing anymore, but we get to see it as it was about 300 BCE as the light is just now getting here. It was discovered in 1779 and as soon as 1800, Count Friedrich von Hahn noted that it was fading. Today it is both noticeably larger and fainter than when it was first photographed in 1889. It is located in the constellation Lyra, south of Vega, almost directly overhead at about 10:00PM in July. Its exact location is almost exactly halfway between the stars Beta and Gamma Lyrae.
This image was taken using a Celestron 1100 (11" diameter) Edge HD scope mounted on a Meade LX850 mount with a SBIG 8300 monochrome CCD camera with the sensor cooled to -10 degrees celsius. It is composed of 8 ten minute exposures each through red, green, blue, and hydrogen alpha filters, combined with 8 fifteen minute black and white exposures. The images were collected during the 2015 Texas Star Party on the Prude Ranch near Ft. Davis, TX during the night of May 10-11 of this year. Capture was with Maxim DL 6, initial processing and stacking in Nebulosity 4, and final polish was in Adobe Lightroom 5, and Startools



Jeff McClure
License: None (All rights reserved)

Sky plot

Sky plot


The Ring Nebula, M57, 


            Jeff McClure