Amateur Images of the Ring Nebula Rival Views from Space Telescopes

Article written: 5 Jun , 2013
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015
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The Ring Nebula is a planetary nebula about 2,000 light-years from Earth and measures roughly 1 light-year across. It is located in the constellation Lyra, and is a popular target for amateur astronomers.

But this new image, done as a collaboration between amateur astronomers Terry Hancock of Michigan and Fred Herrmann of Alabama, is amazing, with detail usually only seen from large ground-based observatories or space telescopes, particularly the detail of the gaseous outer shell of the nebula.

With over 25 hours of total exposure time, this is a remarkably deep exposure which explores the looping filaments of glowing gas. The collaborative effort combined data from two different telescopes, and both Hancock and Herrmann used Astro-Tech 12″ Ritchey-Chrétien astrographs.

Below is another view, a wide field version:

Image of M 57 (Ring Nebula), a collaboration by amateur astronomers Terry Hancock of Michigan and Fred Herrmann of Alabama who both used Astro-Tech 12 inch Ritchey-Chrétien astrographs.

Image of M 57 (Ring Nebula), a collaboration by amateur astronomers Terry Hancock of Michigan and Fred Herrmann of Alabama who both used Astro-Tech 12 inch Ritchey-Chrétien astrographs.

Hancock’s data is from 2012 and 2013 using a QHY9 monochrome CCD and Herrmann’s data is from an SBIG STT-8300 monochrome CCD. Data was collected over 14 nights and six one hour narrow-band hydrogen alpha exposures were taken in order to show the dimmer outer shell.

Hancock explained on G+ that the lighter hydrogen forms the outer reddish envelope while the heavier blue-green oxygen remains about the core. “The gases in the expanding shell are illuminated by the radiation of the central white dwarf, and the glow is still 200 times brighter than our Sun,” he said.

Also visible in the images is the barred spiral galaxy IC 1296.

Recent views from the Hubble Space Telescope of the Ring Nebula showed how the ‘ring’ is really more similar to a football-shaped jelly donut, and Hancock and Herrmann’s view shows that shape as well.

Awesome work!

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4 Responses

  1. Member
    Aqua4U says

    GREAT image! I am not too sure I’d call a Astro-Tech 12 inch Ritchey-Chrétien astrograph exactly an ‘amateur scope’. Looks prettay professional to me!

    • Planemo says

      As soon as I saw “Amateur Images……..” and I saw only “1 comment”. It doesn’t take a “rocket scientists” to figure out who it was! I “KNEW” it was Aqua4 – you! T-scope’s anyone?….lol.

      • Planemo says

        Some one does not care for my fun little comment to Aqua4U. I got one negative mark. How it can be negative is beyond me. There are a few words to describe this rather egotistical person…lol. Aqua4u is one nice dude who knows his t-scopes. And he can count really HIGH! He is on the third spiral arm of our Milky Way counting all the stars in it!…lol.

      • Planemo says

        ooops….hit wrong button!

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