|NGC 6309 "Box Nebula": Planetary Nebula (Ophiuchus) RA: 17h 14.1m / DEC: -12° 54'.7|
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder
Tiny, can't begin to describe this one. At just 45"x20" in size, NGC 6309 is very difficult to detect at less than high power. I used 388X to make the observation rendered at left. A 12th magnitude foreground star is centered. The planetary extends south-southeast over a distance of some 45". This dainty ribbon of ligth is just 20" wide. The south end of the nebula appears slightly tapered, making NGC 6309 look something like a parallelogram. But the end closest to the star looks squared. NGC 6309 is sometimes called the Box nebula. I can see the resemblance in some images but, considering the challenging nature and irregular form of this miniscule planetary, it doesn't really to fit the mold of objects meriting a popular name. You'll find this 10th magnitude object in eastern Ophiuchus, almost 2 degrees west of 4.3 magnitude 53 (Nu) Serpentis.
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Revised: June 19, 2004 [WDF]