Shine mild on the Cat’s Eye – Astronomy Now

Shine mild on the Cat’s Eye – Astronomy Now
Shine mild on the Cat’s Eye – Astronomy Now

Shine mild on the Cat’s Eye – Astronomy Now
The Hubble Area Telescope’s marvellous portrait of the Cat’s Eye Nebula. Picture: NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Staff (STScI / (AURA)

The Cat’s Eye Nebula’s present-day recognition owes a lot to the Hubble Area Telescope’s dramatic portraits, although it was well-known effectively over a century earlier than Hubble was even conceived. In 1864, Sir William Huggins (1824–1910) took a spectrum of the thing that not lengthy after was catalogued as NGC 6543. It was the primary spectrum of a planetary nebula and Huggins was in a position to distinguish nebulae from galaxies by their emission strains, attribute of incandescent fuel.

The Cat’s Eye is a marvellous planetary nebula in Draco that’s effectively on present at the moment of the 12 months, may be discovered and noticed by way of a small- to medium-aperture telescope, and is worthy of its illustrious historical past.

The Cat’s Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) lies in Draco, north of its ‘Head of Draco’ asterism. It’s circumpolar from UK shores. AN graphic by Greg Smye-Rumsby.

Learn how to observe:

The Cat’s Eye Nebula (NGC 6543 and Caldwell 6) lies within the far northern sky among the many stars of Draco, the Dragon. This a part of the sky is circumpolar at mid-northern latitudes, and the planetary culminates excessive overhead on summer time nights. The Cat’s Eye shouldn’t be too laborious to find as, shining at magnitude +8.1, it’s one of many brighter planetaries and has the added bonus of a excessive floor brightness.

Conduct a search round 13 levels north of the ‘Head of Draco’ asterism (magnitude +2.2 gamma [γ] draconis [Eltanin] is the brighter of its 4 stars) for magnitude +3.1 Altais (delta [δ] Draconis) and magnitude +3.2 zeta (ζ) Draconis. These stars lie round 12 levels aside and the Cat’s Eye Nebula lies simply south of the halfway level between them.

Observing at low magnification by way of an 80–100mm (three- to four-inch) telescope, the nebula will look decidedly like an out- of-focus ninth-magnitude blue-green star, owing to its diminutive 23” ×17” kind. Nevertheless, ramping up the facility so far as circumstances enable and including an O-III filter to the sunshine prepare will deliver the Cats Eye to life.

For imagers and homeowners of enormous telescopes there may be an attention-grabbing problem to report IC 4677, a nebula mendacity very near the Cat’s Eye that till not too long ago was regarded as a galaxy. The truth is, it’s the brightest a part of a halo of fabric that envelops the Cat’s Eye.

The Cat’s Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) is a good planetary nebula surrounded by a faint halo, the brightest a part of which, seen to the best (west) of the planetary, is catalogued as IC 4677. Picture: Peter Goodhew.
One other tackle the Cat’s Eye Nebula. Picture: Kfir Simon.

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