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Messier Gallery

M97 (NGC 3587), the Owl Nebula, a 10th-mag. planetary nebula in Ursa Major.

M97 appears so faint because it emits primarily in the green part of the spectrum (CCD cameras tend to be red-sensitive). Published estimates of its distance range from 1,300 to 12,000 light years. The central star is about magnitude 16. If the reason for the "owl" nickname isn't obvious, the dark areas on either side of M97's central star form the eyes of an imaginary owl's face.

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