NGC 3242 The Ghost of Jupiter

If ever there was something in outer space that stares back at you it is this amazing planetary (Figure 7.22). It is hard to get a really good idea of this without an image intensifier, the use of which will resolve it as a circle enclosing the eye-shape itself, with its central star resembling the pupil! My first intensified view startled me, with its clear and bright resolution, not to mention the strong suggestion of a human eye. The image certainly does appear like the well-known photographs showing its more human form. Using a light filter instead of the image intensifier, it is easy to see why it is also known as the Ghost of Jupiter, since aside from the similar shape and size, the more transparent presence of the nebula does suggest something of a spiritual apparition of the giant planet. There are other planetaries with something of this elliptical shape as a hallmark, but none impose so strongly a living personality as does this one.

Figure 7.22.

NGC 3242, the Ghost of Jupiter, also known as the Eye Nebula: a video frame: intensifier; b drawing: intensifier.

Figure 7.22.

NGC 3242, the Ghost of Jupiter, also known as the Eye Nebula: a video frame: intensifier; b drawing: intensifier.

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