The Owl Nebula is the colorful remains of a dead star. When the star ran out of fuel long ago, its outer layers began to drift away leaving behind a hot, glowing core. The expanding cloud is called a planetary nebula and the planet-size core, a white dwarf.
Planetary nebulas come in different shapes and colors. The Owl nebula got its name because of its round shape and two darker patches that resemble the head and eyes of an owl.
Compared with other planetary nebulas, the Owl Nebula is one of the largest in earth's sky. At 3.8 arc minutes, it is much larger than Jupiter (0.6) but much smaller than our moon's (30).
You might think that at this size it should be easy to see the Owl Nebula but this is not the case. Optical aid is needed as well as a dark sky site. This is because the nebula is far away and quite dim. If you have a telescope, the Owl Nebula is a wonderful target to try to find and explore.
Viewing Owl Nebula
mid-March to mid-May
Tap View Map above. Find Ursa Major and the Big Dipper. Draw an imaginary line from Merak to Phecda. Move 2° (2 finger-widths) from Merak toward Phecda. Move 1° up (away from) the line. A dark site without a moon is a must.
A large telescope may be needed. Use a low power eyepiece to find a small, greenish glowing orb. Then use higher power to see details. Try drawing it.