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Stars and stellar evolution
Cat's Eye Nebula

Cat's Eye Nebula, NGC 6543, Caldwell 6


A planetary nebula, discovered by William Hershel in 1786, formed by a dying star originally about five times the mass of the Sun


Around 1,000 years ago, the nebula formed when the star lost its outer envelope of material.


The planetary nebula is found in the constellation Draco, in the Northern Hemisphere.

Distance from Earth

About 3,300 light-years


0.2 light-years across

The Cat's Eye Nebula was one of the first planetary nebulae to be discovered. It is also one of the most complex planetary nebulae known.

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"Fast Facts: Cat's Eye Nebula" is a table that lists the name, location, size, and distance of this planetary nebula from Earth. A picture of the nebula is included.

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Adaptable, at teacher's discretion
How to use in the classroom

Use this resource as:

A source of information. Read the table to find out about this object.

A mapping activity. Locate the nebula's associated constellation on a star map.

A large-number recognition activity. Have students look at several Fast Fact tables, including this one. Ask them to place the objects described in the Fast Fact tables in order, starting with the object closest to Earth and ending with the one farthest away.

An inquiry tool. Have students write down questions they would like answered about the image and the information in the Fast Facts table.

An engagement tool. Involve students in a discussion.

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