The Owl Nebula Messier 97 (M97, NGC 3587) is one of the fainter objects in Messier's catalog.
M97 was discovered by Pierre Méchain on February 16, 1781. The name "Owl Nebula" goes back to Lord Rosse, who first used it in 1848; see his drawing.
As often for planetary nebulae, the Owl is significantly brighter visually (Machholz: 9.7 mag, Hynes: 9.9 mag) than photographically (about 12.0 mag), as most light is emitted in one green spectral line.
Its distance is uncertain; the Sky Catalog 2000 has 1,300 light years.