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NGC 6853 (15,959 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Dumb-Bell Nebula

NGC 6853, Hen 2-452, PK 060-03 1, PN G060.8-03.6, Diabolo Nebula, Apple Core Nebula, Butterfly Nebula, Double-Headed Shot, Messier 27, Dumb-Bell Nebula, h 2060, GC 4532

RA: 19h 59m 36.34s
Dec: +22° 43′ 16.1″

Con: Vulpecula
Ch: MSA:1195, U2:162, SA:8


(reference key)

Type: planetary nebula

Mag: B=?, V=7.5

Size: ?
PA: ?

Image gallery

Sketches  (2)

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Photos  (4)

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This planetary lies 3.3 degrees North of the tip of the arrow of Sagitta.

Historical observations

William Herschel (c.1784)

In the Appendix to the 1912 'Scientific Papers of Sir William Herschel' this object is described as "1782, September 30. My sister discovered this nebula this evening in sweeping for comets; on comparing its place with Messier's nebulae we find it is his 27. It is very curious with a compound piece; the shape of it though oval as M. calls it, is rather divided in two; it is situated among a number of small stars, but with this compound piece no star is visible within it. I can only make it bear 278 power. It vanishes with higher powers on account of its feeble light. With 278 the division between the two patches is stronger, because the intermediate faint light banishes more. 1783, August 2, 20 feet telescope, a distant suspicion of its being all stars; I want light. 1784, July 19, 20 feet telescope, this nebula I suppose to be a double stratum of stars of a very great extent. The ends next to us are not only resolvable nebulosity, but I really do see very many of the stars mixt with the resolvable nebulosity; father on the nebulosity is but barely resolvable, and ends at last in milky whitishness of the same appearance of that in Orion. ... 1794, October 27. With 287 power, 7 feet reflecotr, I see only two patches of light joined together, like two nebulae without stars, running into one another. There are a few very small stars visible in it, but no more than what in the rest of the heavens are here scattered about. They therefore are not connected with the nebula or nebulae."

Admiral Smythe (1884)

Admiral Smythe in his 1884 Bedford Catalogue noted: "This magnificent and singular object is truly one of those splendid enigmas, which, according to Ricciolus, are proposed by God but never to be subject to human solution."

Published comments

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 7.5 mag planetary nebula.

Terzian, Y. (1980)

Terzian, Y (1980) Q.J. R.astr.Soc vol 21, p82-92 [09.16.1] notes that the nebula has a faint outer giant halo.

Doig, P. (1925)

Doig, P. (1925) Notes on the nebulae and clusters in Webb's 'Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes' (Sixth edition, Vol.ii). Part V. M.N.R.A.S., 36(3), 89.

Bailey, S.I. (1908)

"! nebula, the wellknown Dumb-bell Nebula"

Bailey, S.I. (1908) A catalogue of bright stars and nebulae. Ann.Harv.Coll.Obs., 60(8), 199.

Remarks, p.218: "the spectrum is gaseous."

Modern observations

Walter Scott Houston

Notes that this glowing bubble should be easy in finders if the sky is dark. Many observers see M27 as a bar, or perhaps a pair of cones joined at their vertices. The true shape, however, is a large oval.

Houston notes: "the bright cone-shaped extensions that give rise to its popular name are really only part of a circular nebula. Visibility of the fainter sections is especially dependent on sky conditions, which will vary from night to night and even from hour to hour."

Bushnall, Darren (1993)

Bushnall (Hartlepool, Cleveland) observing with a 8.5-inch f/6, writes in the The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 11, January 1993: "Visible as a small but very bright rectangular haze at low powers, with just a hint of outlying 'ears'. Using a UHC filter transforms the view; the dumbbell shape easily seen; the north and south ends brighter than the middle region. The western ear bright at the base but faded outwards. Eastern lobe much brighter, and the outer edge is delineated by a sharp edge."

Bortle, John (1976)

Bortle (Webb Society Quarterly Journal, January 1976) using 10x50 binoculars, estimates the visual magnitude as 7.2.

Kaler, James B

("The Amateur Scientist", Scientific American, May 1992) notes: "this is one of the most beautiful objects in the sky. It looks like a glorious mobile in an art gallery, hanging from a magnificent array of stars in the Milky Way. Using a four-inch scope in suburban lighting, Linda McArthur could see not only the dumbbell shape, but also details along the edges. At 10-inches, Kuebler describes the nebula as blue-green and an 'awesome sight'. "

IAAC discussion: Colour in M27

(IAAC) Colour in M27

Opening an old discussion thread may not be totally social but here goes anyway.

Last night (30/31 August). I was showing a novice observer some objects with

my 20". Among these was M27.

It was a hazy night with limiting magnitude below 5.5.

Looking at M27 with a low power (around 100), I thought I noticed a

reddish/brownish tinge around the edges of thre nebula. Without describing

it, I asked my companion if he noticed any colour. He said he noticed a

brownish tinge around the edge, which would tend to confirm the observation.

Any other reports of colour in this nebula?


Nick Martin, Bonnyton House, By Ayr, Ayrshire KA6 7EW ,Scotland, UK.

(IAAC) Colour in M27

I haven't heard any reports, Nick, but it's certainly not inconceivable! It is

after all a planetary (and thus emission-line) nebula, and quite bright!

However, is it possible the haze you were looking through may have accounted

for the color? Did you see any other unusual color effects last night?

By the way, on the subject of startling colors in nebulae, I have a log waiting

in my In Box of M20, which should raise some discussions! With any luck (and

the Perseids furor FINALLY dying down), y'all should see it this week.

Clear skies!


(IAAC) Colour in M27


:Any other reports of colour in this nebula?

I've seen limey-green many times in M27 under pristine transparent skies,

and also what I would describe as a greyish blue. Never seen brownish red.

My green color was seen with my regular 8 inch aperture.


(IAAC) Colour in M27

Howdy folks;

Below is a compendium of all my observations of M 27, I never

saw a brown edge to it, but lots of reports of green color.

(I would have responded more quickly if color had been spelled


Steve Coe

NGC 6853 is also M 27, the Dumbbell Nebula. It is the most easily

seen planetary nebula in the sky. The Helix and the Owl have low

surface brightness and the Ring is much smaller. This object is easy

in the 10X50 binoculars as a small cloud afloat in the Milky Way. I

have always been fascinated by the Dumbbell and have looked at it

every Summer since I first learned the skies. The central, bright

"Dumbbell" section is obvious in my 13". On a night I rated 9/10 the

dimmer nebulosity stands out unmistakably and makes the total

circumference of the nebulosity appear round. This effect is more

pronounced in the UHC filter at 135X. Lord Rosse drew the Dumbbell in

the 72" Leviathan and he included 18 stars involved in the nebula. I

have tried with several large scopes to match that number and have

never quite caught up with the Third Earl of Rosse. Using my old 17.5"

Dobsonian at 7000 ft. in the mountains near Flagstaff, I could pick

out 10 stars within the Dumbbell. On an excellent night in Mayer, Az.

at Richard and Helen Lines' Observatory their 20" f/6 Newtonian could

reveal 13 stars, one of the easiest being the very hot (85,000 degrees

Kelvin) 13.5 mag central star. Both of those large scopes at about

250X would show some light and dark areas within the nebula. This

strikingly beautiful planetary is lime green in all the telescopes

mentioned above.

Camp 613 13" 9/10--easy in 11X80, 60X--lovely light green neb.

afloat in the Milky Way, rectangular shape elongated 1.5X1 PA 165.

150X--favorite view, bright, large, elongated, stellar nucleus,

sixteen stars involved, several of the faintest with averted vision

only, nebula is brightest on south side. Loops of nebula extent out

from rectangular central section, using the UHC filter fills them in.

330X--"horns" are not nearly as prominent but stars involved are

easier--still 16 counted. Very center around central star is

subtly darker than rest of the nebula-not much, but noticeable.

Ultimate Star Party, McDonald Obs. S=6, T=8, 36" f/5--

M 27 20mm; 17 stars counted involved; horns and football shape

obvious. A light lime green at all times.

(IAAC) Colour in M27


]However, is it possible the haze you were looking through may have accounted

]for the color? Did you see any other unusual color effects last night?

No other effects were observed in other nebulae but I will check under

clearer skies. I did not see the green colour so will try for that given a

decent night.

Maybe tonight


Nick Martin, Bonnyton House, By Ayr, Ayrshire KA6 7EW ,Scotland, UK.

(IAAC) Colour in M27

Nick and others....

I've seen color in M57 also. lime green... none others I can recall, though

red naked eye in M42 and I can see nebulosity in M45:).


Tom Lorenzin

Lorenzin, in the e-version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "8M; 8' x 5' extent; two-lobed; SW section brighter; nebulosity between lobes (along SE-NW axis) enhanced greatly by N-filter; makes total shape an ellipse; much detail visible but few foreground stars visible in 8-in.; view thru 24-in. will leave you searching for your socks! the "DUMBELL"."

Callender, John

(e-mail: jbc@west.net, web: http://www.west.net/~jbc/)

Instrument: 8-inch Dobsonian reflector Location: Carpinteria, CA, USA

Light pollution: light Transparency: fair Seeing: good

Time: Sat Jul 5 08:05:00 1997 UT Obs. no.: 202

I'd neglected to look at the Dumbbell when I was looking at planetaries in nearby Cygnus the other night, so I thought it would make a good climax for my evening of globular hunting in Scorpius and Ophiuchus. M27 was a big, bright, rectangular fuzzy patch at 49x. Possible greenish tint? The twin lobes of the "dumbbell" shape were detectable with averted vision. Tried 122x and 244x; best view was at 122x. The southern lobe was somewhat smaller and brighter than the northern lobe.

Gross, Todd (IAAC)

Your skill: Intermediate

Date and UT of observation: 08/20/97 0140 GMT

Location & latitude: 22 miles west of Boston, Ma. 42.3N

Site classification: Suburban

Limiting magnitude (visual): 4.5 (estimated) 4.3(est) in vicinity of object

Seeing (1 to 10 - worst-best): 6

Moon up (phase?): Yes, full, towards horizon

Instrument: 4" 102mm refractor (C102), 1000mm fl

Magnifications: 33,53x

Filters used: UHC

Object: M27

Constellation: Vicinity of Vupecula

Object data: Planetary

The large, bright planetary, M27 looks wonderful in this size scope, even with a full moon some 10-15 degrees off the horizon! The UHC filter added an incredible amount of contrast. Object looks like a large rectangle at first glance, with a noticeable "tucking in" in the middle of each long side of the rectangle, producing a superimposed "hourglass" shape...nebulosity nevertheless still appearing approximately rectangular when looking at this as a whole. Sprinkled nearby is a myriad of dim stars. Best at around 50x, at this aperture.

Brian Skiff

= M27 = Dumbbell = PK60- 3 1

Marling: mv=7.4

6cm - slightly retangular haze. one * in neb and an occas second one. no detail.

7cm - big br glow @ 30x showing br dumbbell and f `ears'. m10-11 * on Wmost corner of dumbbell. 50x: inner lobes look like 15lb barbell w/sl dimming in center. NE&SW ends well def. NW&SE sides have diffuse ears extending well past length of inner lobes, fade smoothly to sky. no cen * (not expected). quite smooth texture: no sm scale detail. BS, 27Nov1992, Anderson Mesa.

8cm - br @ 13x, pretty nice. br part not quite circ, in pa45, lobes barely distinguishable. vf out part in pa 120. BS, 24Jul1982, Anderson Mesa.

15cm - vdim. using averted vis two patches may be seen strewn together by fntr gaseous filaments. no color noted. HM/BS, 1Jul1970, FtL.

- lg & br. br inner partst and fntr edges. grows dkr twd center. SW blob brtr w/three *s seen in neb.

- vbr lg neb w/asym outline. out wings easy w/averted vis @ 50x, so overall pa120. 80x best generally for this lg object. dumbbell `weights' seem very narrow in pa120, ~3:1 ratio. the SWrn of these is sl brtr (esp w/UHC & [OIII]), and a sm ~circ area nr its WSW end, nr the m11.5 * in the neb, is consp brtr than anywhere else. 140x shows cen * and a few others, notably a somewhat brtr * nrly centered in NE lobe. strongly averted vision w/[OIII] shows distinctly asym outline: the ESE end is smoothly oval, the arm coming out from the NE lobe being distinct and brtr than the other three. the WNW end tapers sharply and veers nrly due W wtd some m10-11 *s W of center. it ends just N of a f pair on ESE side of these. this end rather fntr than ESE end. BS, 29Sep1989, Anderson Mesa.

20cm - lg & br. four *s seen in neb. spherical dumbbell shape w/much f neb & detail inside.

30cm - vbr. outer halo elong in pa120. dumbbell (the br part) perpendicular to halo, S lobe brtst. dkr btwn lobes. * nr center, and in N central lobe. on SW edge is m9 *. S lobe has two knots on outer edge. 7'.5x6' overall.

Contemporary observations

Magda Streicher

2006 July 18


16-inch f/10 SCT (95x, 127x)

Conditions: Good

Very easy seen and overlook in favour to the more fainter stuff. Lovely bright two lob nebula, which flow into one another. Immediately I could see that the SW smaller section is brighter and more define with a minute star easy seen on the round west far edge. It flow with ease towards the hazy middle and spray out to a very hazy middle towards the NE lob which is slightly dimmer and bigger, more spray out in nebulosity. The round NE edge run into a more define little point, with three noticeable stars that is outstanding against the background situated more or less 3' from this outstanding sharp point that lend character to the dumbbell. With higher power I could see the central 13.5 star, and possible star points on the NE surface of the nebula. M27 is one of our most appreciated jewel in the night skies. I can just add a few notes to my observations. The north western edge is much more define than the southeastern end, which in contrast show off a few brighter knots towards the edge zone (12" 218x). The central star could be seen with the 14mm and the nebula show off a lovely frosted light gray color. Several stars seen superimposed on the nebula.

Auke Slotegraaf

2010 August 06/07, Fri/Sat

Karoo Star Party, Britstown, Northern Cape, ZA.

SQM-L 21.2

15x70 Celestron binoculars.

WOW! A bright, large, round soft glow of gossamer light, floating prominently in a field of bright stars. Easy to locate, a short (3) star-hop due north of the tip of the Arrow. A binocular treasure.

Richard Ford

2010 August 7, Saturday

Location:Kambro Padstal,Britstown.

Instrument:12"Dobsonian Reflector Telescope.

Sky Conditions:Dark moon and stars magnitude 6 and fainter are barely visible with the naked eye.

Transparency of the Sky:The most clear sky possible.

Seeing:Excellent clean sky,limited star flickering and brilliant objects.

Limiting Magnitude:6.5.

First Impression: Planetary Nebula.



Chart Number:No.6(Extract taken out of "Atlas of the Night Sky").

Size:9mm Eyepiece:Field of View:15'/3=5'.

7mm Eyepiece:Field of View:15'/3=5'.



Size in Arc Minutes:5'.


Major Axis:5'.


Minor Axis:0.6'.

Planetary Nebula is 5'*0.6'.


Brightness:Very Bright.

Brightness Profile:High Surface Brightness.

Challenge Rating:A breathtaking sight to observe this planetary nebula in a large and small telescope.



By observing this large planetary nebula both at 167*and 214*,an hourglass shape is seen which looks like a weight lifters dumbbell.This planetary nebula's edge is not defined. This nebula presents a whitish hue in appearance.

Carol Botha

2010 - 08- 08

Location: Kambro, Britstown

Time: 02:10

Telescope: 8" Dobsonian f5. Eyepiece 15mm. FOV- 45'

Sky conditions: Seeing 4/5

Actual dimensions: 2.15' x 2.15'(Cartes Du Ciel)

Object description:

Planetary nebula in Vulpecula

A light blue-gray puff of smoke even brightness and very smooth - turns out to be the Dumbbell nebula a planetary nebula with an unusual appearance.

Earlier I had a Karoo dinner and what Im seeing is a lamb knuckle.

I cannot see a central star or resolve any stars in the nebula.

A few sparingly spaced stars surround the nebula. To the E the grouping of stars looks familiar they resemble the constellation Musca

Morning has broken. Time to crawl into my little tent.

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