With cloudy skies predicted indefinitely, I'm forced to revisit my memory cards in search of astro images I may have overlooked first time round.
M97 is a planetary nebula, a huge shell of material ejected by a star at the end of its life. It's got 2 "holes" in it, which are supposed to give the nebula the appearance of an owl's face, hence its common name of The Owl Nebula.
Lord Rosse was first to notice the resemblance to a face in 1848. Here's his drawing:
And here's a fantastic image of it, taken by Fryns Andre
(Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:M97.jpg)
At Magnitude 9.9, it shouln't be a very difficult object to spot, but given its size - appearing about 1/10th the size of the full Moon - its light is spread out over quite a large area, so any light pollution will make it almost impossible to see. I couldn't see it at all through the 10" scope, and even some 30 second exposure didn't reveal it well:
(It is there, honest, if you look closely)
I tried stacking several images together and stretched the levels in Photoshop to try and bring it out.
Did it work?
Yes. Kind of.
Ok, it's rubbish but can at least see the two eyes.
What do you mean, "where?"
Do I have to put arrows to them??
Ok, if you are not even going to meet me half way for goodness sake!
This is 5 stacked images with a total exposure time of 2 minutes 12 seconds, at 1600ASA.
The next photo will be a huge improvement on this, I promise.
In the meantime, if you have binoculars, see if you can spot it yourself. It's very easy to find because it's close to one of the main stars in The Plough (Ursa Major)