IC 5217 is an often
overlooked planetary nebula in Aquarius. This tiny 12.6
magnitude object subtends a mere 6". It has a very high
surface brightness but is very small. A six-inch will
show the nebula as a faint star that looks slightly non-stellar.
Look for a greenish hue. Larger apertures and high
magnifications are required to see detail.
Planetaries Beyond the NGC" (August 1999, Sky & Telescope)
Jay McNeil said of IC 5217, "On a night of particularly steady
seeing, I pumped up the power to 855x and saw a bright inner disk
with an obvious north-south elongation."
In my 18-inch at 95x it
appeared stellar, but the eerie green color made it stand out.
At 250x, it appeared as a tiny, bright oval. Even at 430x it
was still quite small, green, and bright. The best view came
at 860x, where it took on the appearance of a little saturn nebula
(at least as seen in some photographs). It appeared distinctly
oval and left the impression of little "handles" sticking
out of either end. This planetary blinks dramatically with any
eye movement at this magnification.
Be sure to note the
nearby star chain (to the lower left of the nebula in the chart
The field in an 6-inch f/8 at
50x. North is down and east is to the right.