Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti


NGC6853 - M27 Dumbbell Nebula




The Dumbbell Nebula was the first planetary nebula discovered by Charles Messier in 1764.  John Hershel later coined the "Dumbbell" name.  Even a small telescope shows the distinct hourglass shape with the surrounding egg-shaped cloud of gas.  The central teal color arises from the emission lines of doubly ionized oxygen at wavelengths around 500 nm.  These emission lines can only occur in a low-density environment like that of a planetary nebula. M27 is located approximately 1200 light-years from Earth and is believed to have formed between 3000 and 4000 years ago.  The highly energetic central star, a very hot bluish sub dwarf with a temperature of 85,000 Kelvin, excites the gases in the blown off material to glow on their own.  The shell of gas is approximately 3 light-years across with an apparent diameter of 8.4' x 6.1'. 


  • Date & Location:  October 8, 2010  - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  calm, 50F.

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with  average transparency.

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is Refractor with 1.5x extender = 810mm @ f8.1

  • Filter:  Astronomic  EOS clip-in CLS-CCD (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  Losmandy G-11 equatorial with Gemini V4

  • Guiding:  Orion Solitaire w/TeleVue TV60is

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500D) Hap Griffin Modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  47 min (1 x 4min, 5min, 6min & 4 x 8min) @ ISO800.

  • Calibration Frames:  16 Darks & 9 Bias frames

  • Processing:  Images Plus 3.82b, Photoshop CS4, NIK.

  • Comments:   This is a rather small target for a 4" scope, but I'm fairly happy with this image.  However,  I'd like to try again by increasing the number of light frames to bring out more detail.


Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors