Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Snowball Nebula Alias The Double Nebula

The Snowball Nebula, located in the northeast part of the sky this time of year, is one of the rarer double ringed nebula which has a bright, well defined ring of gas surrounded by a much larger,dimmer, hazey envelope.

This was a tough little devil to find especially in an 8" scope like mine and the fact that it's a very diminutive object to begin with. Looking through a 20mm eyepiece, it appears as a very small slightly fuzzy star not much different from the surrounding stars.

Here's a quote from one of my favorite books, 'The Universe From Your Backyard':
"Eight-inch telescopes at 300x, seeing and transparency permitting, show NGC-7662 as an elliptical ring of light with a dark center. An 8-incher doesn't show the outer nebulosity or the dim 13th magnitude central star, but larger scopes may."
Well folks, that was written (in 1988) well before the advent of webcam astrophotography. Now with an 8" scope you can see the inner ring, the outer nebulosity as well as the central star all while observing it on your laptop!!

Note: This is the type of nebula which it is assumed our Sun will produce as nuclear fusion slows and eventually stops, and as a red giant it expels its outer layers of gas leaving behind a hot white-dwarf star.

Techno Stuff: 8" SCT Vesta 690k RAW mode No Filter Alt-AZ 17.5 sec x 60 Dark Subtract Brightness & Gamma 50% Gain 85% 6/29/04 3:30 am est (8:30 ut)
©2006 Richard Murray

Nasa's Hubble Telescope False Color Version of The Snowball Nebula

*See the Archives on the left for more astrophotos*

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