NGC 7293, The Helix Nebula

NGC 7293, The Helix (Helical) Nebula, PK 036-57, Magnitude 7.3, Size 16.0', Constellation: Aquarius


Image Details:

This legendary object, floating among the dim watery stars of Aquarius like a cosmic life preserver, is one of those showpieces I never tire of. Which doesn't mean it's always an easy catch. Oh, it's bright at an integrated magnitude of 7.3, but it's least half the size of the full Moon. That means the light is badly spread out, and under less than optimum conditions, it can be hard to see as anything more than a haze spot--there's sometimes no trace of the central hole.

The Helix is one of the closest if not the closest planetary nebulae to Earth, lying perhaps 450 light-years Out There.

The WO 66 did well on this one in spite of me. My main faux pas? I forgot to take a dark frame (thus the amp glow in the upper right). What can I say? After laying off imaging for five months due to weather it's taking me a while to get back in the swing of things. .

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