The Medusa Nebula is a large planetary nebula in the constellation of Gemini on the Canis Minor border. It also known as Abell 21 and Sharpless 274. It was originally discovered in 1955 by UCLA astronomer George O. Abell, who classified it as an old planetary nebula. The braided serpentine filaments of glowing gas suggests the serpent hair of Medusa found in ancient Greek mythology.
Until the early 1970s, the Medusa was thought to be a supernova remnant. With the computation of expansion velocities and the thermal character of the radio emission, Soviet astronomers in 1971 concluded that it was most likely a planetary nebula.
This image was taken February 12, 2012 and is a 3.5 hour exposure. The image is still a bit noisy and will require more exposure when weather permits. Click on the image for more detail.