How to Find The Owl Nebula, Messier 97

How to Find The Owl Nebula, Messier 97

Owl Nebula, M97.jpg

Messier 97, the Owl Nebula is a planetary nebula found 2,600 light years away. It was discoverd by Pierre Mechain in Feb 1781. It takes the name 'Owl nebula' due to the appearance of Owl like eyes within it when viewed with a telescope of 8 inch aperture and above, on a dark sky night, at a dark location with the aid of a filter. This is a difficult object to see due to its low surface brightness and large size. The nebula is thought to have formed 6,000 years ago and has a 16th magnitude star at its centre. It is interesting due to the formation of the haloes which have several theories about how they are created and its also one of the hottest places known being some 15x hotter than the surface of our sun.

Telescopic Image to Scale:


This image is the size of a full moon for size comparison.

Other Names:

The Owl Nebula

Messier 97


NGC 3587

ARO 25


Magnitude = 11

Surface brightness = 12

Telescope Aperture City Suburbs Rural Dark Sky
4 inches 9 10 11 12.5
5 inches 9.5 10.5 11.5 13
6 inches 10 11 12 13.5
8 inches 10.5 11.5 12.5 14
10 inches 11 12 13 14.5

Use this chart to estimate if you can see the object from your location with your telescope. For more help on using this chart click here.

How to Find It:

This nebula resides in the constellation of Ursa Major and is in the crosshairs on the map below of the Big Dipper asterism. It's co-ordinates are: RA 11h 15m 32.84 DEC +54° 56′ 29.6″ if you are using guiding software.

How to find Messier 97, the Owl nebula

To find more space objects have a look at the constellation guide by clicking the link or go back to the list of deep space objects.

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