The nebula is non-stellar even in 5x24 finders. Central brightening and NE-SW elongation are visible with 60mm refractor. Recognising some shape might require 80-mm refractor and 65x.
Dark lanes dividing the nebula at 4 pieces were reportedly seen in 4.5" refractor at 80x. At 100x, more complex shape of nebula is revealed.
In 6" telescopes, in very good conditions, averted vision might help you see some more details like streaks emanating from the center of the diffusion or "feathery" edges.
8" at 170x and UHC can bring a lot more details to an experienced observer, most notably many spots around the edge of the "S". It can show subtle shade of blue.
Details observed in telescopes above 13" include mottling and ragged edges, very obvious irregular edge of the halo, filaments hints, spiral forms in the brighter parts, and a long bar in the center.
The Crab pulsar can be seen at very high power, and is reportedly splitted from nearby star at 330x. Obsevers with 13" and bigger telescopes, might see up to 7 stars involved with nebula....
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