M57 - The Ring Nebula
Credits: Keith Turnecliff, Long Itchington
Messier 57 (M57), also known as the Ring Nebula, is a well-known planetary nebula located in the northern constellation Lyra.
The Ring Nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8.8 and lies at an approximate distance of 2,300 light years from Earth. It has the designation NGC 6720 in the New General Catalogue.
Facts about M57 by Keith Turnecliff
The nebula cannot be resolved in small binoculars and is best seen in 8-inch and larger telescopes.
Even smaller telescopes will reveal the nebula’s ring shape, while medium-sized instruments will also show its interior hole.
With a visual magnitude of 14.8, the nebula’s central white dwarf is a difficult target. The best time of year to observe M57 is in the summer months.
The Ring Nebula is one of only four planetary nebulae listed in Messier’s catalogue, along with the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), the Little Dumbbell Nebula (M76), and the Owl Nebula (M97).