NGC 7026 -- Planetary Nebula in Cygnus
I ordered a Cheeseburger and got a Pancake
Although the Planetary Nebula NGC 7026 (Cheeseburger Nebula) is not a Messier, Caldwell
or Herschel 400 target, I had held out hope that it would provide me with a visual view of a
butterfly nebula. These Planetary Nebula have wings! The Cheeseburger Nebula is uniquely
shaped with two elongated bright wings “buns” with a darker center “meat patty”. If you have
the time, check out the Hubble image of NGC 7026 -- it is a cool looking nebula.
Stephen James O’Meara in his book “The Secret Deep” was able to tease out the two
elongated wings with a 5-inch refractor under Hawaiian skies using powers above 330x.
That was incentive enough for me to give it a shot under less-favorable Maryland skies. I
was hoping that my slightly larger refractor could help me mirror his results. However, it was
not to be. I could not detect any detail, with or without an OIII filter, at any magnification. After
spending an hour looking for detail within the nebula at high powers and not finding any, I
final settled on a view at 137x for my drawing of my Pancake.
I still considered this a successful observation, it was the first time I had seen NGC 7026,
and I am fairly used to not being able to duplicate O’Meara’s observations – which are
always worthy goals.