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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 | <a href=""> </a>)

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

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.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing skywatching photo you'd like to share it with and our news partners for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at

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