The Ring Nebula M57 (NGC 6720)

Ring Nebula M57 (NGC 6720
Ring Nebula M57 (NGC 6720)
Telescope / Lens 11″ Celestron SCT
Mount Type Astro-Physics 1200
Camera SBIG ST8XME, Astrodon Filters generation 1
 Filters Astrodon E-Series Ha,LRGB
 Film  CCD
 Exposure Total Exposure -105 minutes; LRGB- binned 2×2
 Processing CCDSoft 5, AIP4WIN 2.0, Photoshop CS2,
 Date  09-21-2007
 Location  June Mountain, near Eagles Rest, South of Dexter, Oregon
 Conditions 3232′ magnitude 6.2 Skies; Clear & Steady, SQM 21.6

The Ring Nebula M57 / NGC 6720 is located in the constellation Lyra, between the bottom two stars b & y Lyra that form a parallelogram below Vega. M57 the Ring is one of the best known Planetary Nebula in the sky. Distinct gas clouds that form this spectacular ring, were thrown off by the magnitude 15.31 central star. The central star was originally a Red Giant and is near the end of it’s stellar evolution and is forming a white dwarf. It has been expanding for approximately 1600-1840 years.The nebula itself, has only a total brightness of magnitude 9. It is about the same size as Jupiter when viewed through telescope with a size of only 3.8′ arc minutes. It requires 6-8 inch scope to see it as a small smoke ring. To see the central star usually require a 10″ or larger telescope. M57 also know as NGC 6720 is about 2,150 Light Years from Earth.

Charles Messier was searching for comets when he discovered the Ring nebula in January 1779.  It found its way into the Messier’s Catalogue as M 57.  The Messier catalogue lists 109-110 objects readily observed in a good 4″ refractor.

Below is a cropped view of the same image above, clearly showing the central star.  The resolution that modern day CCD imaging can accomplish in small telescopes is amazing.

Ring Nebula M57 (NGC 6720) cropped
The Ring Nebula M57 (NGC 6720) cropped