Messier 27 or NGC 6853 - is a typical planetary nebula and is located in the constellation Vulpecula (The Fox). The distance is rather uncertain, but is believed to be around 1200 light-years. The French astronomer Charles Messier found it in 1764 and included it as no. 27 in his famous list of extended sky objects. Despite its class, the Dumbbell Nebula has nothing to do with planets. It consists of very rarified gas that has been ejected from the hot central star (well visible on this photo), now in one of the last evolutionary stages. The gas atoms in the nebula are excited (heated) by the intense ultraviolet radiation from this star and emit strongly at specific wavelengths. The nebula is thought to be a cylinder of ejected gas and is viewed from our position along it equatorial plane. If viewed from its polar or axial orientation it would most likely appear as a ring such as M57 (The Ring Nebula).