NGC 5189, The Spiral Planetary Nebula

NGC 5189, The Spiral Planetary Nebula

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Description

Astroodn 5 nm H-a, 3 nm OIII and E-Series RGB filters. Apogee U16M operated at -20C. All images unbinned. Plate scale 0.65"/pixel.
NGC5189 is an unusual planetary nebula in the deep southern constellation of Musca. It is ~2.5′ and about 1,800 light years distant. It was discovered by James Dunlop in 1826 and was described by John Herschel in 1835 as "a very strange object". It is commonly known as the "The Spiral Planetary" due to the s-shaped curves, and at mag. 10.3 is a popular southern visual target. It is also known as IC 4274, PK307-3.1, Gum47 and RCW76. There is an informative write-up and image from the Gemini telescope at:
http://www.gemini.edu/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=188
One theory of the spiral structure is that the dying star has a companion in a binary system and the orbits of these two stars create the curves shown in the object. This image is 26 arcmin square and north is up. It is located at:
Right Ascension (2000.0): 13:33:32.9 (h:m:s)
Declination (2000.0): -65:58:25 (deg:m:s)
As an aside, I had a great opportunity to visit Gemini South at Cerro Pachon in Chile in December, 2006, and snapped these shots. They even opened the covers to the primary mirror, as shown below. This was the first and only professional observatory I have visited – not a bad start. Of course, this induces a permanent state of aperture envy. Click on each image to enlarge.

Image Date: 03/03/2008
Details: Exposure Time: 40 min H-a, OIII; 8 min each R,G,B
Camera: Apogee  U16M
Telescope: RC Optical  Carbon 12.5 inch f/9 Ritchey-Chretien
Mount: Software Bisque  Paramount ME

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