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NGC 7008 (The Fetus Nebula)
Planetary Nebula
aka Fetus Nebula, PN G093.4+05.4, PK 093-5.2, ARO 39
Integrated Visual Magnitude: 12
Apparent Diameter: 1.4'
Distance: 2800 ly

Minimum requirements to view: 6-inch telescope very dark skies


This planetary is well worth the look! It has made it onto my list of favorites. Nearby is a wide double and at the center of nebula lies a 12th magnitude central star.
The above image was created by combining red and blue second generation DSS images. Note the dark region to the upper right. Smaller scopes will show the bright "C" shaped inner region. Only in larger instruments will the complete ring be visible. North is down and east is to the right. The field of view of ~6'.
As usual with planetaries, I had a look myself before finding out what other people had seen or looking at any pictures. My first look was in 1998 with my 6-inch Newtonian. I was very surprised at what I saw! Rather than the small, oval disk that typifies these objects, what I saw was more of a dash, emanating to the north from the nearby pair of bright stars. At 50x it reminded me of a tiny comet with tail. The best view was probably at 135x, where it looked like a hazy dash of light. At 270x it looked like an edge-on spiral galaxy. I was so struck by this that I went inside to verify that I was indeed looking at a planetary nebula. I couldn't wait to have a look at this thing in a larger instrument!

A six-inch view at 50x. North is down and east is right.

Later I observed NGC 7008 with my 18-inch f/4.5. Even at 94x the full circle of this ring-like nebula appeared, symmetrical about a bright central star. The north end has a bright knot in it. The oval ring stretches around to the west from there, meeting a similar, but less prominent knot on the southwest end. The eastern part is almost dark, which is what leads to the strange question-mark or dash-like appearance in smaller instruments. The OIII filter improved the contrast with the nebula in general and brightened the appearance of the knots but it didn't help much in discerning the dimmer portions of the ring.
 

Millennium Star Atlas Vol III Chart 1169
Sky Atlas 2000 Chart 9
Uranometria 2000 Vol I Chart 120