Astrophotography by Anthony Ayiomamitis

NGC/IC Planetary Nebula Image Gallery

A large number of planetary nebulae can be found within the NGC and IC catalogs. As is illustrated by the sample images below, planetary nebulae are beautiful objects to look at thanks to the glowing and colourful gaseous shrouds which make their planetary appearance and colouration possible as a result of stars having exhausted their nuclear material and having reached the last stages of their life. Some of the more exotic planetary nebulae include the Cat's Eye (NGC 6543), the Saturn Nebula (NGC 7009), the Ghost of Jupiter (NGC 3242) and the Owl Nebula (M97).

George Abell's examination of the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey in the mid 1960's yielded 86 planetary nebulae which have proven to be an observer's dream challenge, for many of these celestial objects are not only very faint in magnitude even under very dark skies but are also relatively large with dimensions often measured in minutes in lieu of seconds. Later analysis of Abell's catalog revealed that at least four of these objects, namely Abell 11, 32, 76 and 85, are not planetary nebulae at all. For the avid observer, an O-III filter is highly recommended in order to have any hope of visually detecting these elusive wonders. Abell's planetary nebulae have been classified under a web page of their own on this site (see here).

Note: Two excellent references are the associated articles in S&T (May/2002) and Astronomy Magazine (Feb/2005).

NGC/IC Planetary Nebulae

NGC 650 in Per
Little Dumbbell Nebula

NGC 2438 in Pup

NGC 3587 in UMa
Owl Nebula

NGC 6781 in Aql

NGC 6853 in Vul
Dumbbell Nebula