Location of Photo:
La Jolla, CA, USA
Date/Time of photo:
June 24, 2022 between 1 and 4 AM PDT
Takahashi FSQ-85ED with 1.01 Flattener, ZWO ASI533MC Pro imaging camera, Optolong L-Pro filter, ZWO 30 mm guide scope, ZWO ASI290MM mini guide camera, Rainbow Astro RST-135 mount, ZWO ASIAIR Plus controller and capture software, and Pixinsight 1.8.9 processing software on a Macbook Pro.
This is M27, also known as the Dumbell Nebula -- a bright, colorful, so-called "planetary" nebula (though it has nothing to do with planets). This is likely what will become of our Sun when nuclear fusion stops in its core. The first hint of our Sun's future was discovered inadvertently in 1764 by Charles Messier, who was compiling a list of diffuse objects not to be confused with comets. M27, the 27th object on Messier's list, is one of the brightest objects in the deep night sky, and can be seen toward the constellation of the Fox (Vulpecula) on a dark night with just binoculars. It lies 1360 light years from Earth, has a maximum diameter of 2.8 light years, and features colors the result of hydrogen and oxygen gas emissions. Understanding the physics and significance of M27 was well beyond 18th century science. Even today, many things remain mysterious about bipolar planetary nebulae like M27, including the physical mechanism that expels a low-mass star's gaseous outer-envelope, leaving an X-ray hot white dwarf at its center. Last night was a rare clear night, dusk to dawn, and enabled 2.5 hours of exposure time for this image.