The Owl Nebula (also known as w:Messier Object 97 or NGC 3587) is a w:planetary nebula in the w:constellation w:Ursa Major. It was discovered by w:Pierre Méchain in 1781.

Owl Nebula
Observation data
(Epoch J2000.0)
Right ascension11h 14.8m
Declination+55° 01′
Distance2,600 ly
Apparent magnitude (V)+9.9
Apparent dimensions (V)3.4 × 3.3 arcmin
ConstellationUrsa Major
Physical characteristics
Radius1.5 ly
Absolute magnitude (V)-
Notable featuresOwl-like "eyes" visible through larger telescopes
Other designationsM97, NGC 3587

M97 is regarded as one of the more complex of the planetaries. The 16th magnitude central w:star has about 0.7 w:solar mass and the nebula itself about 0.15 solar mass. The nebula formed roughly 6,000 years ago.

The nebula gets it name due to the appearance of owl-like "eyes" when view through a large (>200 mm) telescope under dark sky conditions with the aid of a so-called "nebula filter." The "eyes" are also easily visible through photographs taken of the nebula.

Image of Messier 97 taken with red, green
and blue filters with the w:Faulkes Telescope North

External links