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Astro-Porn of the Day: Lagoon Nebula


Click the image to see the story and bigger images.

I vividly remember the first time I saw the Lagoon Nebula in my Crown 6" Newtonian reflector (on a heavy German-equatorial mount). I was about 14 years old, and I'd dragged the telescope out on a late-summer midnight. I lived a couple of miles outside of a small western-Minnesota town, and our neighborhood only had one streetlight to pollute the night. Carrying my equipment a few hundred yards beyond led to almost entirely dark skies, so the Milky Way and its core glowed like a million tiny sparks arcing across the sky, mottled with fuzzy bright spots. Toward the galaxy's core lay several dramatic nebulae, including this one, spanning huge across the eyepiece, not far from the Trifid Nebula and a whole bunch of other objects. Even using a small instrument, all you have to do is slowly sweep your telescope or binocular across this rich field to see endless star-birthing regions and star-clusters. Gorgeous.

"VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of 11 public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. Together these are providing a vast legacy of publicly available data for the global astronomical community."

Another shot:

Click the image to see source page.


More cool facts about this extremely rich section of the sky: "Sagittarius contains 15 Messier objects: Messier 8 (M8, NGC 6523, Lagoon Nebula), Messier 17 (M17, NGC 6618 Omega, Swan, Horseshoe or Lobster Nebula), Messier 18 (M18, NGC 6613), Messier 20 (M20, NGC 6514, Trifid Nebula), Messier 21 (M21, NGC 6531), Messier 22 (M22, NGC 6656, Sagittarius Cluster), Messier 23 (M23, NGC 6494), Messier 24 (M24, NGC 6603, Sagittarius Star Cloud), Messier 25 (M25, IC 4725), Messier 28 (M28, NGC 6626), Messier 54 (M54, NGC 6715), Messier 55 (M55, NGC 6809), Messier 69 (M69, NGC 6637), Messier 70 (M70, NGC 6681) and Messier 75 (M75, NGC 6864). The constellation also has 22 stars with confirmed planets."

Chris

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
the_lucky_nun
Jul. 16th, 2014 02:28 am (UTC)
I'd punch a nun to see the Milky Way again.
mckitterick
Jul. 16th, 2014 04:38 pm (UTC)
I hear you.

But all it REALLY takes is heading a few miles out of town. I need to set up another astro-viewing night some time. It's been years!
the_lucky_nun
Jul. 17th, 2014 06:57 pm (UTC)
If you did set up a star-gawking night, I would go! What are your favorite local spots for sky-viewing, with or without telescopes?
mckitterick
Jul. 17th, 2014 07:21 pm (UTC)
Well, "favorite" is tough: My back yard for easiness and access to beverages during sky-viewing, but not so great in the summer (trees are full of leaves, mosquitoes). Outskirts of town (just off country roads) for darker skies. I haven't found a perfect place yet! But I'll let you know next time I set up something.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )