The Saturn Nebula
|Right Ascension||21 : 04.2 (h:m)
|Declination||-11 : 22 (deg:m)
|Visual Brightness||8.0 (mag)
|Apparent Dimension||0.4 x 1.6 (arc min)|
Discovered by William Herschel in 1782.
The Saturn Nebula was one of the first discoveries of William Herschel in September 1782, when he started his great survey (this one was discovered on September 7). This remarkable planetary nebula has its name from its appearance, which resembles a faint suggestion of the planet Saturn with rings nearly edge-on (Lord Rosse named it in the 1840s). According to Admiral Smyth, the Saturn Nebula was one of Struve's nine "Rare Celestial Objects."
While the Saturn nebula measures 36" in diameter, it has an extended halo of about 100", according to the Sky Catalogue 2000.0. Its central star is rather bright with mag 11.5.
The distance of the Saturn Nebula is not known very acurately. Hynes gives 2,400 light-years (adopted here), the Sky Catalogue 2000.0 about 2,900, and Burnham adopts O'Dell's (1963) estimate of 3,900 ly.
In the SAC 110 best NGC object list. No. 1 in the RASC Finest NGC Object list. In John Caldwell's list. Caldwell 55 in Patrick Moore's list.
Bill Arnett's Saturn Nebula NGC 7009 photo page, info page.