Cat’s Eye Nebula (Zoom)


Image credit & copyright: Josh Smith.

Josh Smith


Let’s sail off into this weekend with a great image by Josh Smith of New General Catalog 6543 (NGC 6543) or as it’s famously known, the Cat’s Eye Nebula, a planetary nebula roughly 3,000 light years away in the constellation Draco.  Now if you’re vaguely familiar with this object you may notice that it looks much different than what you’ve seen in other Cat’s Eye images such as the famous Hubble images.  Truth is, it’s all fake!  Just kidding, calm down.

What’s a planetary nebula?:

That familiar portion I’m referring to is at the nucleus of the structure and of you look closely you can in fact, make it out in this image. What gets left out of most images is the majority of the structure which Josh captured for us in beautiful detail.  The entire nebula spans about 5 light years while the inner portion is less than one light year across.  20 million tons of material per-second is being shed from the O Type star at the core of this artwork at a speed of about 4 million miles per hour and in a few million years, that progenitor star will likely end its life as a white dwarf.

What about that faint fuzzy to the left? Well that’s exactly what it is; spiral galaxy NGC 6552 some 50 million light years beyond the Cat’s Eye.

You know what; let’s turn this into a zoom post. Below I present two more Cat’s Eye images, each closer than the previous one so you can have a look at this object in detail.


This second image was captured by Romano Corradi at the Nordic Optical Telescope on La Palma in the Canary Islands.

2nd image link:


The third and final image gets up close and personal. This image is a composite of two NASA classics; Hubble’s optical data and Chandra’s X-ray data.

3rd and final image link:

Name: Cats Eye Nebula, NGC 6543.

What is it?: Planetary Nebula.

How big is it?: 5 light years in diameter.

How far away is it?: Roughly 3,000 light years.

Apparent (visual) Magnitude?: A pretty dim 8 for the inner portion. Halo is too faint to observe without huge aperture.

Discovery?: William Herschel on February 15, 1786.

Where is it? (General): Constellation Draco.

Where is it? (Exact RA/Dec J2000): RA: 17h 58m 33.423s / Dec +66° 37′ 59.52″.

Image | This entry was posted in Astronomy (Learning), Astrophotography (DSOs), Images, Nebula (Planetary), ZOOM Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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