M97 - "Owl Nebula" in Ursa Major


M 97 (NGC 3587) is commonly known as the Owl Nebla. It lies 2 thousand light years away in the constellation of Ursa Major, the Big Bear. It was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1781 and Charles Messier added it to his catalog that same year.

M 97 is a planetary nebula. These are formed when a small to intermediate-sized star exhausts its supply of Hydrogen and begins converting Helium into heavier elements (i.e., Carbon, Oxygen). This causes the star to expand into a red giant. The temperature of the star's core increases and its stellar winds further expand the outer shell. It then reaches the point where the expanding gases become ionized and begin to glow. Planetary nebula are relative short-lived, approximately 25,000 years.


Telescope: Takahashi TOA-130NFB
Camera: Modified Canon T4i (650D); Raw capture; ISO 1600
Mount: iOptron CEM60; guided by QHY 5L-II on 60mm guide scope
Exposures: 27 @ 5 minutes
Note: The images were captured, aligned, and combined in ImagesPlus. The final image was cropped and adjusted in Photoshop. Topaz DeNoise and Detail were applied.
Shot from backyard observatory in southeastern Minnesota on 5/11-12/2021.
Nebula Index