Little Dumbell Nebula (M 76) -- Planetary Nebula in Perseus
One Planetary Nebula with two NGC Numbers
The Little Dumbbell Nebula (M76) appears to be divided even when viewed through small
telescopes. The division in this Planetary Nebula is because we view it nearly edge-on, so all
we see is the expanding gas being forced out of the polar regions from the invisible (in my
telescope) central star. Under magnification, the two-halves are not equal, and each appears
to have bright-knots imbedded into the gas clouds. M76 is a worthy target for observers
because it is full of detail. Far more than most Planetary Nebula in small telescopes. A nebula
filter is useful but not necessary from a dark sky location.
NGC 651 was assigned to the northeastern lobe of M76 and NGC 650 for the southwestern
lobe. Note that my drawing is a mirror image of M76 with north up.