On 4 July 1054 Chinese Astronomers first observed a 'guest star' or supernova. Fast forward to 1731, and an ovoid nebula was discovered by John Bevis. The Fuzzy patch, visible in quite small telescopes and even binoculars nearly caught out Charles Messier when he was looking for the return of Halley's Comet - and became the first on his list of 'comet-like objects'.
It wasn't until the early 20th century that examination of photographs over the years showed the cloud was expanding, and some simple maths suggested that it must have started from a 'dot' in the 11th century. From there it wasn't a huge leap to tie up the nebula with the supernova, a link that is considered proved by the presence of a pulsar, the remains of the exploded star in the centre of the nebula. Incredibly, using the Hubble space telescope it is possible to observe changes in the centre of the nebula on a scale of months.
The nebula is the slightly coloured 'fuzzy' patch near the top of the photo graph below, this is a stack of 37 two-minute subs taken using an astro-modified Canon 450D and a 400mm lens. The bright star at bottom right is Tau Tauri, which marks the end of one of Taurus the bull's horns.
M1, the Crab Nebula
Blowing up the above picture starts to show the beginnings of structure in the nebula, but more recently I was able to capture far more detail by using a more powerful scope instead of a telephoto lens.