Top 40 most beautiful of Planetary Nebula


The Coldfield Observatory

 
Planetary Nebula: in order of Right Ascension
Planetary Nebula: in the constellations
The descriptions
 

This Top 40 list gives you the easiest and most beautiful of Planetary Nebula, quickly found in your telescope. This is not, like many other lists, an extract from a database filtering the brightest objects. It is a summary of 40 planetaries easily spotted, easily distinguished as a disk and not a star, and mostly with a nice color. All 40 planetaries from this list are observed by the author, equiped with a 6 inch f8 Newtonian reflector. The magnification used was never higher than 200x. All planetaries are not below the declination of -18.

Such nebula is the material ejection by an old star, his outer layers expand as shells of gas into space, while the star collapses. The expansion lasts only several thousands of years. The display of the layer around the star is due to the ionization, just the same as in emission nebulae. It also results in the color.

A Planetary Nebula is a pretty nice object between the other real stars in the field. A colored disk with a bright central star is the most attractive. Not all planetaries show a round disk. M27 and M76 are the two best examples of a two sided appearance of the nebula, caused by the ejection in opposite directions. You also can easily find planetaries off the milky way. These are mostly the close ones to us.

It's very obvious, photographs never bring the astonishing spectacle, as an observer can feel thru his telescope. You only see white disks on a photograph, like exploded bullets. While the marvelous Blue Flash or Ghost Of Jupiter or NGC 1501 reveal superb details in the eyepiece.

Some planetaries show the effect of a disappearing disk, while the central star stays in view, when you look straight on the object. Averted vision resolves the outer ring back. The object NGC 6826 in Cygnus got the name Blinking Planetary, because it's the best example. Another amazing planetary is NGC 2438 sitting right between the tiny stars of the gorgeous huge open cluster M46. Colors can be very noticeable too. A splendid object for this is the Blue Snowball.

The Ring Nebula M57 is the most well known Planetary Nebula, showing the best picture of a ring structure. For this reason, it is omitted in this list, so there is place left for 40 other planetaries who deserve a same closer look.

 
  The top 40 from 00h 00m to 23h 59m R.A. :
Name R.A. Dec. Mag. Size (")  
 
NGC 40 00 13.0 +72 32 10.7 60  
NGC 246 00 47.1 -11 53 8.5 210  
M 76 01 42.3 +51 34 11.0 107  
IC 1747 01 57.6 +63 20 12.0 13  
IC 2003 03 56.4 +33 52 12.6 7  
NGC 1501 04 07.0 +60 55 12.0 56  
NGC 1514 04 09.2 +30 47 10.8 90  
NGC 1535 04 14.2 -12 44 10.4 20  
IC 418 05 27.5 -12 42 10.7 14  
NGC 2022 05 42.1 +09 05 12.8 28  
IC 2149 05 56.3 +46 07 10.0 12  
IC 2165 06 21.8 -12 59 10.6 9  
NGC 2371 07 25.6 +29 29 13.0 74  
NGC 2392 07 29.2 +20 55 8.6 47  
NGC 2438 07 41.8 -14 44 11.0 65  
NGC 2440 07 41.9 -18 13 11.5 54  
NGC 3242 10 24.8 -18 38 8.6 40  
M 97 11 14.8 +55 01 11.0 196  
NGC 4361 12 24.5 -18 48 10.9 80  
IC 3568 12 32.9 +82 33 11.6 18  
NGC 6210 16 44.5 +23 49 9.7 20  
NGC 6309 17 14.1 -12 55 11.6 20  
NGC 6543 17 58.6 +66 38 8.3 22  
NGC 6572 18 12.1 +06 51 8.0 15  
NGC 6741 19 02.6 -00 27 12.0 9  
NGC 6751 19 05.9 -06 00 12.0 20  
NGC 6804 19 31.6 +09 13 12.4 63  
NGC 6818 19 44.0 -14 09 10.0 22  
NGC 6826 19 44.8 +50 31 8.8 27  
M 27 19 59.6 +22 43 7.3 340  
NGC 6891 20 15.2 +12 42 10.5 15  
NGC 6894 20 16.4 +30 34 14.4 44  
NGC 6905 20 22.4 +20 06 12.0 44  
NGC 7008 21 00.6 +54 33 12.0 86  
NGC 7009 21 04.2 -11 22 8.3 28  
NGC 7026 21 06.3 +47 51 12.0 25  
NGC 7027 21 07.1 +42 14 9.6 18  
NGC 7048 21 14.9 +46 18 11.0 60  
NGC 7354 22 40.4 +61 17 12.9 22  
NGC 7662 23 25.9 +42 33 8.6 17  
 
  The top 40 in the constellations :
  
Cepheus
 NGC 40
 NGC 7354
Cetus
 NGC 246
Perseus
 M 76
 IC 2003
Cassiopeia
 IC 1747
Camelopardalis
 NGC 1501
 IC 3568
Taurus
 NGC 1514
Eridanus
 NGC 1535
Lepus
 IC 418
Orion
 NGC 2022
Auriga
 IC 2149
Canis Major
 IC 2165
Gemini
 NGC 2371
 NGC 2392
Puppis
 NGC 2438
 NGC 2440
Hydra
 NGC 3242
Ursa Major
 M 97
Hercules
 NGC 6210
Ophiuchus
 NGC 6309
 NGC 6572
Draco
 NGC 6543
Corvus
 NGC 4361
Aquila
 NGC 6741
 NGC 6751
 NGC 6804
Sagittarius
 NGC 6818
Cygnus
 NGC 6826
 NGC 6894
 NGC 7008
 NGC 7026
 NGC 7027
 NGC 7048
Vulpecula
 M 27
Delphinus
 NGC 6891
 NGC 6905
Aquarius
 NGC 7009
Andromeda
 NGC 7662
 
 
 

 
 
  Descriptions
 
Here are the details of the 40 preferred Planetary Nebula to look for. It contains the technical information, a short description with things to know.
 
To make it yourself even more convenient, all are rated with a number of stars:
 
*****These are the finest Planetary Nebula of the night sky. Mostly the well known, with beautiful color and considerably bright, perhaps containing an obvious hole, or clearly a central star.
****Very nice planetary nebula, sometimes a little effort to catch it, or standing in an attractive surrounding star field.
***These are not so famous, maybe only like an unsharp star, but still easily found, and a great chance to compare it with the stars in the same field.
 
A less rating does not tell the planetary nebula isn't worth spotting it. It still reached the Top 40, remember!
 
             
1 NGC 40
 
  RA: 00 13.0 Dec.: +72 32   Cep
   
  Magnitude: 10.7
  Size: 60
     
 
  It is located some 15 degrees from Polaris, east of the top of the house shape of Cepheus. It is an inconspicuous round disk with an obvious central star. Also try IC 3568, even closer to Polaris.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
2 NGC 246
 
  RA: 00 47.1 Dec.: -11 53   Cet
   
  Magnitude: 8.5
  Size: 210
     
 
  It's situated just above Beta of Cetus, the deep star beneath the lower-left star of the Pegasus rectangle. It lies in a poor star field, but at the position some tiny stars are scattered in the wide and considerably faint planetary shape.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
3 M 76
 
  RA: 01 42.3 Dec.: +51 34   Per
   
  Magnitude: 11.0
  Size: 107
     
 
  The Little Dumbbell, and it really is a small copy of the other well known planetary M27, also with the two sides shape, and one side more prominent than the other. It is a member of Perseus, but pushed in the upper-right corner of the constellation, so rather just beneath Cassiopeia.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: *****
 
 
             
4 IC 1747
 
  RA: 01 57.6 Dec.: +63 20   Cas
   
  Magnitude: 12.0
  Size: 13
     
 
  The small planetary looks like a unsharp star, but it's bright and easily found. A pretty arc of some stars next to it. It's position is closely to Epsilon Cas, the leftmost star of the W pattern.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ***
 
 
             
5 IC 2003
 
  RA: 03 56.4 Dec.: +33 52   Per
   
  Magnitude: 12.6
  Size: 7
     
 
  It lies just above Zeta Per, the lower-left star of Perseus. The planetary NGC 1514 sits a bit lower just over the Taurus border. Appears like a very small but conspicuous dot, easily compared with the stars next to it lying in a kind of group.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ***
 
 
             
6 NGC 1501
 
  RA: 04 07.0 Dec.: +60 55   Cam
   
  Magnitude: 12.0
  Size: 56
     
 
  An object, like the open cluster NGC 1502 with the nice double, very near the known asterism chain of Kemble's Cascade. Fairly bright and giant planetary, perfectly round, and a hint of a ring figure.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
7 NGC 1514
 
  RA: 04 09.2 Dec.: +30 47   Tau
   
  Magnitude: 10.8
  Size: 120
     
 
  An obvious huge smudge around the bright central star. Lies just inside the Taurus borders above the Pleiades, but rather close to the lower-left Zeta Per star. There sits also the fine planetary IC2003.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
8 NGC 1535
 
  RA: 04 14.2 Dec.: -12 44   Eri
   
  Magnitude: 10.4
  Size: 20
     
 
  It is located west of the lower part of Orion. It's called the Eye of Cleopatra. It shows easily and like a small globular, with the expected central core.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: *****
 
 
             
9 IC 418
 
  RA: 05 27.5 Dec.: -12 42   Lep
   
  Magnitude: 10.7
  Size: 14
     
 
  Its location is central beneath the two lower stars of Orion. It displays easily an unsharp dot compared with the other stars in the same field.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ***
 
 
             
10 NGC 2022
 
  RA: 05 42.1 Dec.: +09 05   Ori
   
  Magnitude: 12.8
  Size: 28
     
 
  Just east of the star group surrounding the uppermost Orion star Lambda. Considerably bright, small and round smudge. Many stars in the area.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
11 IC 2149
 
  RA: 05 56.3 Dec.: +46 07   Aur
   
  Magnitude: 10.0
  Size: 12
     
 
  It rests just above Beta Aur, the bright star east of Capella. It reveals a fairly bright star, but higher magnification wipes out the doubts together with the real stars in the field.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ***
 
 
             
12 IC 2165
 
  RA: 06 21.8 Dec.: -12 59   CMa
   
  Magnitude: 10.6
  Size: 9
     
 
  The location is NW of the bright Sirius. Again, like most members of the IC list, an unsharp star can be distinguished for this tiny planetary.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ***
 
 
             
13 NGC 2371
 
  RA: 07 25.6 Dec.: +29 29   Gem
   
  Magnitude: 13.0
  Size: 74
     
 
  Just SW of the bright Castor. An arc of 3 stars ends with a faint but conspicuous small glow.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ***
 
 
             
14 NGC 2392
 
  RA: 07 29.2 Dec.: +20 55   Gem
   
  Magnitude: 8.6
  Size: 47
     
 
  Known as the Eskimo Nebula, near Delta Gem, the middle star SW of Pollux. A stunning planetary, it displays a bright core and a huge nice round disk. The disk becomes more prominent with averted vision.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: *****
 
 
             
15 NGC 2438
 
  RA: 07 41.8 Dec.: -14 44   Pup
   
  Magnitude: 11.0
  Size: 65
     
 
  A pleasing planetary inside the giant and rich open cluster M46. In fact, the fine disk is at foreground. Knowing the exact location of the small glow, always reveals it.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: *****
 
 
             
16 NGC 2440
 
  RA: 07 41.9 Dec.: -18 13   Pup
   
  Magnitude: 11.5
  Size: 54
     
 
  A fairly conspicuous object, at low power a normal star, but higher magnification resolves a small and considerably bright round spot, with clearly a brighter center. It sits in the field east of Sirius.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
17 NGC 3242
 
  RA: 10 24.8 Dec.: -18 38   Hya
   
  Magnitude: 8.6
  Size: 40
     
 
  Has the name The Ghost Of Jupiter. A deep object, but a nice surprise. A considerably giant and perfectly round glow, very bright. Slightly brighter in the middle. It is found in the lower part of Hydra, deeply south of Regulus.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: *****
 
 
             
18 M 97
 
  RA: 11 14.8 Dec.: +55 01   UMa
   
  Magnitude: 11.0
  Size: 196
     
 
  It displays a giant smudge, almost diffuse. It got the name of Owl Nebula, the two slightly darker holes for the two eyes inside the disk need a good look. But easily to spot near Beta of the Big Dipper.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
19 IC 3568
 
  RA: 12 32.9 Dec.: +82 33   Cam
   
  Magnitude: 11.6
  Size: 18
     
 
  Even closer to Polaris than NGC 40. A tiny and fairly bright dot, but without doubt a diffuse point in the field of real stars. It is located in the small upper corner of the constellation Camelopardalis.
 
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20 NGC 6210
 
  RA: 16 44.5 Dec.: +23 49   Her
   
  Magnitude: 9.7
  Size: 20
     
 
  Sometimes called the Turtle Planetary. A small but obvious bullet. You catch it in the lower part of the Hercules hourglass figure.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
21 NGC 6309
 
  RA: 17 14.1 Dec.: -12 55   Oph
   
  Magnitude: 11.6
  Size: 20
     
 
  Just above Eta Oph, the easternmost bottom star of Ophiuchus. A tiny star surrounded by a faint but conspicuous patch. Called the Box Nebula.
 
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22 NGC 6543
 
  RA: 17 58.6 Dec.: +66 38   Dra
   
  Magnitude: 8.3
  Size: 22
     
 
  The Cat's Eye Nebula. It rests in the middle of the turn of the Draco figure. High magnification shows an obvious mottled round disk, but also extremely bright.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: *****
 
 
             
23 NGC 6572
 
  RA: 18 12.1 Dec.: +06 51   Oph
   
  Magnitude: 8.0
  Size: 15
     
 
  First impression is an unsharp bright star. A closer look reveals a curious small disk. It is located above the Melotte 186 naked eye star cluster, near the upper-left star of Ophiuchus.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
24 NGC 4361
 
  RA: 12 24.5 Dec.: -18 48   Crv
   
  Magnitude: 10.9
  Size: 80
     
 
  The rather unknown Corvus contains a fine planetary, inside the quadrangle pattern of the constellation. It resembles a small diffuse comet, no clear edges.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
25 NGC 6741
 
  RA: 19 02.6 Dec.: -00 27   Aql
   
  Magnitude: 12.0
  Size: 9
     
 
  It lies above the lower-right star Lambda of Aquila. NGC 6751 lies beneath the star. NGC 6741 is said to be the Phantom Streak. It seems a star equally bright like the others in the same field, but patience resolves an obvious diffuse light.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ***
 
 
             
26 NGC 6751
 
  RA: 19 05.9 Dec.: -06 00   Aql
   
  Magnitude: 12.0
  Size: 20
     
 
  It lies just a step beneath the lower-right star Lambda of Aquila. The Phantom Streak NGC 6741 lies in the area above the star. A very conspicuous small round dot, easily trapped.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
27 NGC 6804
 
  RA: 19 31.6 Dec.: +09 13   Aql
   
  Magnitude: 12.4
  Size: 63
     
 
  It sits in the area west of Altair. A conspicuous and considerably giant disk, soft and not quite round. At the nord a star touches the disk.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
28 NGC 6818
 
  RA: 19 44.0 Dec.: -14 09   Sgr
   
  Magnitude: 10.0
  Size: 22
     
 
  Is called the Little Gem. A member of Sagittarius, but the location in the upper-left area of the constellation results in an undeep declination. Easily spotted, a slightly huge and bright disk, nicely round.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
29 NGC 6826
 
  RA: 19 44.8 Dec.: +50 31   Cyg
   
  Magnitude: 8.8
  Size: 27
     
 
  His name is not stolen. The Blinking Planetary. The best example of a planetary which halo around the bright central star disappears when you look straight on it. With averted vision, the surrounding ring comes back. And easily placed above the westernmost star Delta of the Swan.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: *****
 
 
             
30 M 27
 
  RA: 19 59.6 Dec.: +22 43   Vul
   
  Magnitude: 7.3
  Size: 340
     
 
  The Dumbbell Nebula is the most known planetary of which the shape doesn't show a nicely round disk. It is a enormously giant streak cut in two halves, with clearly one side slightly fainter than the other. The planetary is reachable above the little Sagitta.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: *****
 
 
             
31 NGC 6891
 
  RA: 20 15.2 Dec.: +12 42   Del
   
  Magnitude: 10.5
  Size: 15
     
 
  The lovely Dolphin contains two nice planetary, NGC 6891 and the Blue Flash NGC 6905. This one is a small fairly bright bullet, noticeably diffuse. It lies just inside the constellation boundary, so rather between the Dolphin and Altair.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
32 NGC 6894
 
  RA: 20 16.4 Dec.: +30 34   Cyg
   
  Magnitude: 14.4
  Size: 44
     
 
  It lies in the field between Albireo and the easternmost star Epsilon of the Swan. It appears as a faint but rather giant smudge.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
33 NGC 6905
 
  RA: 20 22.4 Dec.: +20 06   Del
   
  Magnitude: 12.0
  Size: 44
     
 
  The lovely Dolphin contains two nice planetary, NGC 6891 and this Blue Flash NGC 6905. Lying just inside the upper-rigth corner of the constellation, so rather east of Sagitta. This beautiful dot rests also in an amazing rich star field. A conspicuous short row of 3 stars stands near it. Diffuse but obvious, fairly giant, nicely round, and the impression of an outside ring.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: *****
 
 
             
34 NGC 7008
 
  RA: 21 00.6 Dec.: +54 33   Cyg
   
  Magnitude: 12.0
  Size: 86
     
 
  It stands in the uppermost region of the Swan, so rather closer to the bottom of Cepheus. It is huge and diffuse, but shows up next to a close double star.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
35 NGC 7009
 
  RA: 21 04.2 Dec.: -11 22   Aqr
   
  Magnitude: 8.3
  Size: 28
     
 
  The Saturn Nebula lies at a location when you extends the eastern wing of Aquila. Bright and giant object, the oval shape is quite noticeable.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: *****
 
 
             
36 NGC 7026
 
  RA: 21 06.3 Dec.: +47 51   Cyg
   
  Magnitude: 12.0
  Size: 25
     
 
  At the position stands an almost touching double, but a better look displays the western light as a diffuse spot. You can find it right between Deneb and the cluster M39. The planetary NGC 7027 lies not far beneath, the planetary NGC 7048 at the SE.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ***
 
 
             
37 NGC 7027
 
  RA: 21 07.1 Dec.: +42 14   Cyg
   
  Magnitude: 9.6
  Size: 18
     
 
  A conspicuous little round disk, but considerably bright. It stands SE of Deneb. The planetary NGC 7048 east of Deneb, and the planetary NGC 7026 NE of Deneb.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
38 NGC 7048
 
  RA: 21 14.9 Dec.: +46 18   Cyg
   
  Magnitude: 11.0
  Size: 60
     
 
  It sits east of Deneb. Also the planetary NGC 7027 at its SW, and the planetary NGC 7026 at its NW. Just south of a bright star are some tiny stars scattered, but just north of the bright star stands clearly a faint patch in touch.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
39 NGC 7354
 
  RA: 22 40.4 Dec.: +61 17   Cep
   
  Magnitude: 12.9
  Size: 22
     
 
  It also resembles a small comet, containing a slightly brighter nucleus, fairly noticeable object. It lies close to the left wall of the Cepheus house shape.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: ****
 
 
             
40 NGC 7662
 
  RA: 23 25.9 Dec.: +42 33   And
   
  Magnitude: 8.6
  Size: 17
     
 
  The gorgeous Blue Snowball is located above the rectangle shape of Pegasus. A perfectly round disk, bright, and shows the blue color well.
 
   chart + picture !   Rate: *****