Cookie consent

AstroBin saves small pieces of text information (cookies) on your device in order to deliver better content and for statistical purposes. You can disable the usage of cookies by changing the settings of your browser. By browsing AstroBin without changing the browser settings, you grant us permission to store that information on your device.

I agree
Contains:  Owl nebula, M 97, NGC 3587
Getting plate-solving status, please wait...
M97 - Owl Nebula, 


            Gary Imm
M97 - Owl Nebula

M97 - Owl Nebula

Technical card

Resolution: 1976x1380

Dates:April 18, 2019April 19, 2019April 20, 2019

Astrodon Blue 31mm Gen2 I-Series: 60x30" (gain: 139.00) -20C bin 1x1
Astrodon Green 31mm Gen2 I-Series: 60x30" (gain: 139.00) -20C bin 1x1
Astrodon Ha 31mm 5nm: 50x300" (gain: 300.00) -20C bin 1x1
Astrodon OIII 31mm 3nm: 50x300" (gain: 300.00) -20C bin 1x1
Astrodon Red 31mm Gen2 I-Series: 60x30" (gain: 139.00) -20C bin 1x1

Integration: 9.8 hours

Avg. Moon age: 14.80 days

Avg. Moon phase: 99.09% job: 2680634

RA center: 168.698 degrees

DEC center: 55.021 degrees

Pixel scale: 0.782 arcsec/pixel

Orientation: 260.295 degrees

Field radius: 0.262 degrees

Locations: Backyard (Mag 20.8 - New Moon), Onalaska, Texas, United States

Data source: Backyard


This object is a planetary nebula located 2000 light years away in the constellation of Ursa Major. The nebula is believed to be about 8000 years old. My image shows that the primary gas in this nebula is oxygen, shown in blue, with some outer rim red highlights which are due to hydrogen. The nebula is just larger than 3 arc-minutes in apparent size, with an actual diameter of almost 2 light years.

Although the nebula was discovered by French astronomer Pierre Méchain in 1781, the Owl nickname supposedly comes from a drawing of the nebula by William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, in 1848. I have attached his drawing, which looks nothing like an owl to me.

Whatever the origin of the nickname, the structure of the nebula is fascinating to me. An outer faint unsymmetric halo of oxygen is barely visible and was not detected until 1991. The bright inner nebula takes on a 3-D appearance if looked at long enough, with many darker void areas visible. The primary inner structure is a roughly hourglass shaped void area which could have been formed by bi-polar outflow from the visible central bluish 14th magnitude source star. We are viewing this shape not face-on but at an oblique angle, which makes the shape harder to recognize and resolve.

This hourglass shape is virtually identical to that seen in Abell 33. Jones-Emberson 1 (PK 164+31.1) also seems to have this same structure, although advanced to a larger void shape. In time, the "hourglass" outflow will likely continue to expand through the spherical shell, until it becomes an unbounded structure similar to that of Jones 1 (PK104-29.1). (Note that Jones-Emberson1 and Jones 1 are different objects.)



Gary Imm
License: None (All rights reserved)


  • Final
    M97 - Owl Nebula, 


            Gary Imm
  • M97 - Owl Nebula, 


            Gary Imm

Sky plot

Sky plot


M97 - Owl Nebula, 


            Gary Imm