Planetary Nebula M97

The Owl Nebula, Messier 97 (NGC 3587)in Ursa Major (in fact in the same low-power eyepiece view as M108 = NGC 3556, just southeast of Beta Ursae Majoris. This image was obtained using a brief 2-minute exposure through a narrow-band filter around H-alpha during twilight, so it is perhaps not up to the usual standards of this site. The central star is visible, along with the two darker regions that gave the Owl its name. This structure likely tells us that this nebula has the barrel- or hourglass-like symmetry that has been revealed in many planetary nebulae. These data are from the 4-meter Mayall telescope of Kitt Peak National Observatory. This was from a 2048x2048 Tektronix CCD, showing a 7.15-arcminute region with the original pixels averaged 4x4 for better surface-brightness sensitivity.

M97 is easy to find telescopically, just outside the bowl of the Big Dipper close to β Ursae Majoris. It shows up in the same low-power field as the edge-on spira galaxy M108=NGC 3556. This is shown in the wider-field image from the University of Alabama Crimson Dragon system below (stacking short exposures in a narrow filter around Hα).

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Last changes: 9/2018      © 2001-2018