Looking In: Skywatcher Captures Wide-Field View of Helix Nebula

Helix Nebula by Chumack
Astrophotographer John Chumack took this image of the Helix Nebula in September 2016 from Dayton, Ohio. (Image credit: John Chumack | www.galacticimages.com )

The "Eye of God" — one of the most iconic images in astronomy — shines bright in this wide-field image.

The Helix Nebula , also known as "The Eye of God," The Helix, or (officially) NGC 7293, is a large planetary nebula located about 650 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).

This image was taken by John Chumack in September 2016 from Dayton, Ohio.

"This is a dying star blowing off its outer atmosphere," Chumack wrote in an email to Space.com.

Astronomers consider NGC 7293 an excellent example of a planetary nebula, representing the final stages of a dying star. The cloud of dust around the central star is blowing off into space, and is illuminated by radiation from the core. The central star is destined to become a white dwarf, a collapsed nugget of left-over stellar material. [50 Fabulous Deep-Space Nebula Photos]

The image is "not too bad for a 5.5 inch scope" Chumack added, noting that the nebula was also sitting low on the horizon.

Chumack used a Baader Modified Canon Rebel Xsi camera and 5.5 inch Newtonian Reflector, at ISO 1600, for a 180-minute (3 hour) exposure, 45 x 4 minute subs.

You can see more amazing night sky photos by our readers in our astrophotography archive here.

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Contributing Writer and Producer

Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for Space.com. She began writing and producing content for Space.com in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.