Ring Nebula (M57)

Pretty patterns of gas and dust.
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Christopher K.
Posts: 5480
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Ring Nebula (M57)

Post by Christopher K. »

M57 was the first planetary nebula to be discovered, by Antoine Darquier in 1779. John Herschel described the object's light as "like gauze stretched over a hoop". Though I don't know at what magnitude, a Father Secchi was convinced he could see innumerable glittering stars. The Ring Nebula, of course, has no such composition and that simply illustrates the importance of indepedent confirmation.

Von Hahn of Germany was probably the first person to note (in 1800) the central star, which is notoriously faint. Current research seems to be revealing the Ring itself actually is a ring-shaped object and not the bubble we originally has believed.

During HRPO's Ring Nebula "season", mainly July to October, staff is in the habit of asking patrons to compare what they saw through the eyepiece with the full-color image mounted at this time in the northwest area of the main floor. It's a good teachable moment about the light-gathering ability of a reflector's mirror, the "shutter speed" of the human eye and the stacking ability of astronomy-specific cameras and software.

More information:
http://messier.seds.org/m/m057.html
http://www.daviddarling.info/encycloped ... ebula.html
Year-Round Messier Marathon Field Guide by Harvard Pennington, p. 142.
Burnham's Celestial Handbook, pp. 1163-1178.

Today's APOD, which shows M57's structure extends farther than can be seen optically:
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120420.html

Christopher K.
Posts: 5480
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Ring Nebula (M57)

Post by Christopher K. »

It's Ring Nebula season! Actually, it's summer--but M57 is up quite high in the Baton Rouge sky right now...it gets practically to zenith.

Here are the times for selected nights during which M57 will be highest in the sky...
24 August = 9:45pm
27 August = 9:30pm
30 August = 9:20pm
2 September = 9:10pm
5 September = 8:55pm

darkhornet
Posts: 7
Joined: May 22nd, 2013, 9:53 am

Re: Ring Nebula (M57)

Post by darkhornet »

I know this is probably old news to most, but I didn't see it posted. Here are some awesome shots of the Ring Nebula released by NASA last week:
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archiv ... s/2013/13/

Christopher K.
Posts: 5480
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Ring Nebula (M57)

Post by Christopher K. »

Isn't that image interesting? What we know as the Ring seems to be the central hub in a wagon wheel--or better, some weird set of interlocking gears. I first saw the picture at...
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubbl ... ebula.html
...and it really raised my eyebrows.

Since it's continuing to expand, I guess that means the Ring will never be as bright as it is now.

Christopher K.
Posts: 5480
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Ring Nebula (M57)

Post by Christopher K. »

Try both of these at least once in your life...
1] See the Ring Nebula (letting someone else find it for you).
2] See the Ring Nebula (find it for yourself).

This weekend, M57 should be high up enough in the east by 10pm CDT for a good view. Remember, clear skies are forecast by NOAA through Tuesday night!

3 June 2020 Bob King article:
https://skyandtelescope.org/observing/e ... ng-nebula/

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