Updated: Oct 28, 2019

M27 was the first planetary object discovered by Charles Messier in 1764.

This target does not require many hours to get great results. We only spent only 1 hour and a half worth of 6 minute exposures to get the result below, and you can easily distinguish the shape of a dumbbell. You can also see a bit of the red "X" striking in the center of the nebula, which is not easy to get without spending a few hours on it. 


Camera: Canon 7D Mk II

Telescope: Orion 8" Astrograph f/3.9

Mount: Atlas EQ-G motorized Mount

Coma: Baader MPCC Coma Corrector MkIII

Guiding: Starshoot Autoguider - 50mm Guide Scope

Processing: Pixinsight


Total Exposure Time: 1.6 hours

Exposure Time per frame: 6 minutes

16 lights - 30 Darks - 30 Bias

ISO: 800

Locating the Dumbbell Nebula

Messier 27 is the second brightest planetary nebula, and large enough to be visible with binoculars and small telescopes. Due to its high surface brightness, a telescope will yield more details in the gases of the nebula, and you may even recognize the shape of a dumbbell!

The Dumbbell nebula can be found inside the famous Summer Triangle (composed of the bright stars Altair, Deneb, and Vega), in the constellation of Vulpecula. Star hop from Altair and head down towards Deneb in a straight line. You will land on M27 about one-third of the way there.

Also note that an open cluster, NGC 6830 containing just about 30 stars lies just a couple degrees west of the nebula.

  • Inner gas has the shape of a dumbbell

  • Very similar to what our sun will become when it dies

  • Second brightest planetary nebula

Single Shot & Processing of M27

Below you can see our single shot of M27. It is surprising how colorful and crisp it already looks! It is also hard to believe that 16 of those don't make a better image than the one we have.

The biggest challenge in the processing is to bring out the red "X" striking in the center of the nebula.

This is not easy task with a stock DSLR unless you spend a lot of time on it, but it is achievable.

The key is to image from a zone that is dark enough, and make sure to bring out the red gases during processing. As always with red gases, a Hydrogen filter will help!

Final Thoughts

The Dumbbell Nebula is a one of the easiest nebulae to photograph in the night sky. As you can see above, a single shot is already very impressive! We plan to revisit this target when we get a CCD camera or a bigger telescope.

Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter

Part of: The Astrophotographer's Guidebook

Description: Discover 60 Deep Sky Objects that will considerably improve your Imaging and Processing skills! Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced astrophotographer, this detailed book of the best deep sky objects will serve as a personal guide for years to come! Discover which star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies are the easiest and most impressive to photograph for each season. Learn how to find each object in the night sky, and read our recommendations on imaging them in a quick and comprehensive way. Each target in this guide contains our advice on imaging, photos of expected results, and a useful information table. We've also included a few cool facts about each target, a map to find it in the night sky, and more!

#astronomy #astrophotography #messiercatalog #messier #galaxy #nebula #cluster #stars #space #galactichunter #nevada #lasvegas #canon #orion #telescope #m27 #dumbbell #dumbbellnebula


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