M97 (The Owl Nebula)
M97 (NGC 3587), Magnitude 9.90 planetary nebula, Size 3.4'x3.3', Constellation: Ursa Major.
Comments: While this old Owl is often considered a "difficult" Messier, the addition of the ubiquitous OIII filter to the amateur's arsenal in recent years has made it far easier than it used to be. In fact, I've been able to at least detect its disk with an OIIIed ETX-60 from my club's heavily light-polluted Pine Lake site. If you're after the two dark spots that form this bird's eyes, things get a little more difficult again. They are hard from a less than good site with my C11. They are fairly obvious with (an unfiltered) C8 from medium dark skies, however.
As with most planetaries, distance estimates for the Owl are all over the map. It is probably, however, about 10,000 light years away from us.
M97 looked pretty dim on the screen as I was taking this image, but a little processing with Meade IP made it pop right out. While Indian Springs State Park, site of the Georgia Sky View, is near to the huge Atlanta Light Dome, the DSI performed very well indeed, and visual looks at Owley were almost as pleasing.
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