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Messier 57 The Ring Nebula
Imaged by Martin S. Ferlito
copyright
Gstar-EX Integrating Video Camera
8" Schmidt-Cassegrain on Vixen GP Mount, Stepper Driven.
 Information provided by Seds.org


M57 was the second planetary nebula to be discovered (in January 1779), 15 years after the first one, M27. Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix (Darquier), who discovered the Ring Nebula only a few days before Charles Messier found and cataloged it, described it as "a dull nebula, but perfectly outlined; as large as Jupiter and looks like a fading planet." This comparison to a planet may have influenced William Herschel, who found the objects of this type resembling the planet newly discovered by him, Uranus, and introduced the name "Planetary Nebulae". Herschel described M57 as "a perforated nebula, or ring of stars;" this was the first mention of the ring shape. Oddly, the inventor of the name "Planetary Nebula" did not count this most prominent representative in this object class, but described it as a "curiosity of the heavens", a peculiar object. Herschel also identified some of the superimposed stars, and correctly assumed that "none [of them] seems to belong to it." 




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