Tag Archives: The Helix

The Helix Nebula

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The Helix Nebula, also known as The Helix, NGC 7293, is a large planetary nebula (PN) located in the constellation Aquarius. Discovered by Karl Ludwig Harding, probably before 1824, this object is one of the closest to the Earth of all the bright planetary nebulae. The estimated distance is about 215 parsecs or 700 light-years. It is similar in appearance to the Cat’s Eye Nebula and the Ring Nebula, whose size, age, and physical characteristics are similar to the Dumbbell Nebula, varying only in its relative proximity and the appearance from the equatorial viewing angle. The Helix Nebula has sometimes been referred to as the “Eye of God” in pop culture, as well as the “Eye of Sauron”.

The Helix Nebula is an example of a planetary nebula, or ‘planetary’ formed at the end of a star’s evolution. Gases from the star in the surrounding space appear, from our vantage point, as if we are looking down a helix structure. The remnant central stellar core, known as a planetary nebula nucleus or PNN, is destined to become a white dwarf star. The observed glow of the central star is so energetic that it causes the previously expelled gases to brightly fluoresce.

The Helix Nebula in the constellation of Aquarius lies about 700 light-years away, spanning about 0.8 parsec or 2.5 light-years. Recent images by the Hubble Space Telescope of the Helix Nebula are a composite of newly released images from the ACS instrument and the wide-angle images from the Mosaic Camera on the WIYN 0.9-metre telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Imaging telescopes or lenses: Celestron C-11
Imaging cameras: Atik 460 EX Mono
Mounts: iOptron iEQ45
Guiding cameras: Starlight Xpress Lodestar
Software: Stark Labs PHD Guiding, Nebulosity, GIMP 2.9 GIMP 2
Filters: Astrodon Ha 5mm, Astrodon LRGB CCD Imaging Filters (E-Series), Gen2
Accessories: Starlight Xpress SX USB Filter Wheel
Resolution: 2771×2198
Dates: Sept. 24, 2014
Frames: 75×300″
Integration: 6.2 hours
Avg. Moon age: 29.28 days
Avg. Moon phase: 0.07%
RA center: 337.420 degrees
DEC center: -20.841 degrees
Orientation: 93.040 degrees
Field radius: 0.311 degree

Author: 1074j

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