The Owl Nebula – M97

The Owl Nebula is perched in the sky about 2,600 light-years away toward the bottom of the Big Dipper’s bowl. Also cataloged as M97, the 97th object in Messier’s well-known list, its round shape along with the placement of two large, dark “eyes” do suggest the face of a staring owl. One of the fainter objects in Messier’s catalog, the Owl Nebula is a planetary nebula, the glowing gaseous envelope shed by a dying sun-like star as it runs out of nuclear fuel. In fact, the Owl Nebula offers an example of the fate of our Sun as it runs out of fuel in another 5 billion years. As we see it, the nebula spans over 2 light-years making it roughly 2,000 times the diameter of Neptune’s orbit.

I took this image over 8 hours. This includes 11 Luminance images of 30 minutes each, and 5 RGB images each of 20 minutes each. Sides of the image is cropped.

For some strange reasons, the color balancing was very difficult for this image. I had to use Maxim DL to combine the individual color planes and then used Pixinsight to stretch the data.

M97-web

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