“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.” -
William Shakespeare

When I started Messier Monday nearly two years ago, I wanted to highlight two halves of a story: the brightest deep-sky objects visible from Earth and the science of where they come from and what they teach us about the Universe. Today’s object — one of the closest of all the Messier objects to Earth — provides the perfect chance to do that.

Image credit: Rich Richins’ 2009 Messier Marathon, retrieved via http://starizona.com/acb/.

Image credit: Rich Richins’ 2009 Messier Marathon, retrieved via http://starizona.com/acb/.

While most of the objects are clusters of stars, whether in small groups within our galaxy, globular clusters populating our halo or entire galaxies external to our own, a few nebulous rarities give us a glimpse into our shared cosmic history, and teach us something about where we all come from.

Image credit: Val Ricks of the Huntsville Amateur Astronomy Society, via http://www.huntsvilleastronomy.org/?page_id=50.

Image credit: Val Ricks of the Huntsville Amateur Astronomy Society, via http://www.huntsvilleastronomy.org/?page_id=50.

Enjoy today’s object — the Dumbbell Nebula, Messier 27 — as one of my favorite Messier Mondays that I’ve ever done!