The Helix Nebula, also known as The Helix, NGC 7293, is a large planetary nebula (PN) located in the constellation Aquarius. Discovered by Karl Ludwig Harding, probably before 1824, this object is one of the closest to the Earth of all the bright planetary nebulae.
The estimated distance is about 215 parsecs (700 light-years). Discovered in the 18th century, these colorful beauties were named for their resemblance to gas-giant planets like Jupiter.
Despite their name, planetary nebulas have nothing to do with planets. Rather, the term refers to their superficial resemblance to giant planets, when observed through early telescopes.
The Helix Nebula has sometimes been referred to as the “Eye of God” in pop culture, as well as the “Eye of Sauron”.
Image Credit: www.jpl.nasa.gov