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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Community Partners Blog

Manatee Nebula Exhibit On Display At Wildlife Park

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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is pleased to have been selected as the location for the display of the 10-foot wide Manatee Nebula from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). The exhibit is on loan to the Wildlife Park from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the next three years until USFWS opens their Visitor Center at Three Sisters Springs. The Manatee Nebula exhibit may be seen inside the Park’s Visitor Center at the main entrance on US Highway 19. There will be no charge to come and view the display.

Park Manager Art Yerian said, “The Park is excited to have this opportunity to display the Manatee Nebula exhibit and hopes many residents and visitors will take this opportunity to stop by and view this impressive display.”

The Manatee Nebula was formerly known as W50 to the radio astronomers who discovered it in 1958. W50 was renamed this past January when the NRAO’s director’s executive assistant Heidi Winter looked at the VLA’s (Very Large Array) new image of the nebula and saw that it closely resembled a manatee, an endangered marine mammal.

Tania Burchell, a science writer at NRAO, describes the origins of this nebula “as having formed when a giant star, 18,000 light years away in the constellation of Aquila, exploded as a supernova around twenty thousand years ago, sending its gases flying away in an expanding bubble. The manatee shape comes from the dying star’s powerful, spinning jets shoving the nebula outward on either side.”

This Manatee Nebula exhibit will be on display for the next three years in the Visitor Center at

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
4150 S. Suncoast Boulevard (US Highway 19)
Homosassa, Florida

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