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Stars and stellar evolution
The Ring Nebula, NGC 6720
Half size lp the ring nebula ngc 6720 2x
(3.43 MB)

Photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope

This image of the Ring Nebula, NGC 6720, shows the distinctive shape of the glowing remains of a Sun-like star.

Facts of interest about the image

This image reveals that the nebula is more complex than astronomers previously thought.

Classroom activity

Included is an inquiry-based classroom activity that focuses on the image and text.


This image from the Hubble Space Telescope showcases the distinctive shape of the Ring Nebula and offers the best view yet of the nebula. The observations reveal a more complex structure than previously thought. A captioned inset on the back shows the variety of shapes of planetary nebulae. Includes a classroom activity.

9-12, but the material can be adapted for use in other grades at the teacher's discretion
How to use in the classroom

Teachers can use this lithograph as:

An example of a planetary nebula. Use the inquiry-based classroom activity called In Search of Planetary Nebulae Shapes that is included with the PDF lithograph.

An engagement tool in an inquiry-based lesson. Have students study the images on the lithograph. Ask them to write down any questions they have about the images. When the students are finished, their questions can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Ask students to find the answers to their questions by reading the text on the lithograph and/or the related materials listed below.

  • Have students exchange papers so that each student has someone else's questions. Then have them find the answers to the other students' questions by reading the text on the lithograph and/or the related materials listed below.

  • Gather the questions into a list by asking students to volunteer to read their questions while you or another student records them. Ask students to raise their hands if they had the same or a similar question. Count the number of hands raised and record this number next to the question. Once all the student questions have been added to the list, have students search for the answers to their questions in the text on the back of the lithograph. When they complete that task, ask them to decide if each of their questions was answered completely, answered partially, or not answered at all. Go through the original list and place an "A" in front of the questions that were answered completely, a "P" for those that were partially answered, and an "N" for those that were not answered at all. Determine if the most commonly asked questions were also answered completely. Encourage students to do further research to find answers to the unanswered questions.

A content reading tool. Have students read the text on the lithograph and then write a quiz for the class.

Related materials