Discovered by Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix in 1779.
The famous Ring Nebula (M57) is often regarded as the prototype of a planetary nebula, and a showpiece in the Northern Hemisphere summer sky. Recent research has confirmed that M57 is, most probably, a ring (torus) of bright light-emitting material ejected from its central star. Our view of M57 is from a polar vantage point. We therefore are looking down the axis of a cylinder of ejected gas. Viewed from the equatorial plane M57 most likely would resemble the Dumbbell Nebula (M27) or the Little Dumbbell Nebula (M76).
The small galaxy in the upper right of the image is IC 1296. It is relatively faint and has an apparent magnitude of 15.