Did you get a chance to catch the live action on our southern hemisphere based telescope today? Then you missed a real treat! We had a chance to view NGC 7009 – the “Saturn Nebula” live for several hours. Of course, the small aperture of the scope doesn’t do it the incredible justice that it deserves from the pristine skies in Central Victoria’s Macedon Ranges Observatory, but wow… It sure was cool! If you didn’t get a chance to see it, then thank Scopemaster Bert for shooting a video for us and make some popcorn. It’s waiting inside….
The Saturn Nebula (also known as NGC 7009) is a planetary nebula in the Aquarius constellation. It was discovered by William Herschel on September 7, 1782 using a telescope of his own design in the garden at his home in Datchet England and was one of his earliest discoveries in his sky survey. The nebula was originally a low-mass star that transformed into a rather bright white dwarf star, magnitude 11.5. The Saturn Nebula gets its name from its superficial resemblance to the planet Saturn with its rings nearly edge-on to the observer. It was so named by Lord Rosse in the 1840s, when telescopes had improved to the point that its Saturn-like shape could be discerned. William Henry Smyth said that the Saturn Nebula is one of Struve’s 9 “Rare Celestial Objects.”
The distance to the Saturn nebula is not known very well because there are no reference stars in its neighborhood that have been detected and could be used to accurately gauge its distance. Therefore, any distance is somewhat suspect. Hynes estimates it to be 2,400 light-years distance from earth. In 1963, O’Dell estimated the distance to be 3,900 light-years.
The object is on many ‘best of’ observing lists, including: SAC 110 best NGC object list, RASC’s Finest N.G.C. Objects Objects, and The Caldwell Catalog #55.
As always, be sure to tune in whenever you get an opportunity. You’ll find the link to the IYA “Live” Telescope to your right. We broadcast whenever we get a chance and you’re always welcome here!
Factual information courtesy of Wikipedia.