Three stargazers exercised their passion for night sky photography to create a stunning image of Messier 27, also known as the Dumbbell Nebula or NGC 6853.
Located in Holland, Alabama and Michigan, Andre van der Hoeven, Fred Herrmann and Terry Hancock collected almost 40 hours of data, using different telescopes and CCD cameras, to combine into one image of the Dumbbell Nebula. The image was released to SPACE.com on July 12.
"Using narrow band filters and very long exposures, we were able to capture the outer hydrogen and oxygen shell of the M27 nebula, which is not normally visible in amateur images," Hancock wrote SPACE.com in an email. [50 Fabulous Nebula Photos]
M27 is a planetary nebula located in the constellation Vulpecula (The Fox) more than 1,200 light-years away from Earth. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year — about 6 trillion miles, or 10 trillion kilometers.