M57, also known as “The Ring Nebula” was added to Charles Messier’s list to help fellow comet hunters know that this object should not be confused with those “dirty snowballs.”
M57 is the featured object for the planned observing session at Cline Observatory tonight (Friday, July 10). Shining at a magnitude 9.7, the blue-green shell of gas surrounds a 14.8 magnitude star, a star caught in it’s death throes.
Found in the constellation Lyra, the nebula appears as a smoke ring thru a telescope. Astronomers are uncertain about the distance to the Ring Nebula but estimate it at about 2,000 Light Years.
Located on the Jamestown campus of GTCC, the Cline Observatory is open to the public, free of charge, every clear Friday night. Observing sessions usually begin about 30 minutes after sunset; tonight they’ll probably start around 9 p.m.