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The Saturn Nebula
Planetary Nebula
NGC 7009, PNG 037.7-34.5, PK 037-34.1, ARO 16
Integrated Visual Magnitude: 8.3
Apparent Diameter: 28"
Distance: 3200 ly

Minimum requirements to view: any telescope under suburban skies


The Saturn nebula is a bright planetary nebula in Aquarius. One of the finest of its class, it has a diameter of 25" and is large enough to be obviously non-stellar even at 50x. Look for an elongated star. After you find it use as much magnification as conditions will permit.

This nebula was discovered by William Herschel on September 7, 1782. Burnham's says of NGC 7009, "It was called by Lord Rosse the "Saturn" Nebula from the extending rays of ansae which project from the main disc on either side... The nebula is a strikingly beautiful object in large telescopes, shining with a vivid green fluorescent glow."

I noted in my log that the Saturn nebula is about twice the size of  NGC 7027 (a fine planetary in Cygnus detailed elsewhere) and much brighter. In smallers scopes it appears as an egg-shaped blob with fuzzy edges. In my 18-inch f/4.5 Dob I could see the famous extensions with averted vision. At the center appeared a slightly brighter knot or central star. A bright, oblong inner ring was apparent. The color is most apparent when viewed directly. It is interesting to compare the view with and without averted vision as the nebula takes on a distinctly different apperance. When viewed directly it looks dimmer, as if looking though a cloud or filter. It appears both briighter and paler when viewed with your eye directed to the side and a faint outer glow appears.

 


The view in a 6" at 50x. North is down and East is right.

 

Millennium Star Atlas Vol III Chart 1335
Sky Atlas 2000 Chart 16
Uranometria 2000 Vol II Chart 300