M20 - The Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius


Copyright 2008 Hap Griffin

This nebula gets its name from the fact that the main cloud is tri-sected by a dark nebula into three main sections.  The beautiful red and blue colors come from the regions of the nebula where hydrogen is glowing (red) and reflecting starlight (blue).  The red portion is excited to emission by the ultraviolet light coming from a triple star system embedded within...the bright football shaped star near its center.  The distance to the Trifid is approximately 5200 light years, although there is a large disparity between various sources. 


Date/Location:    May 9, 2008     Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    Canon 40D Digital SLR (modified) through 10" Orion Newtonian w/ Baader MPCC on AP-1200 mount
Focal Ratio:   f/ 4.7
Guiding:    Auto through Orion ED-80 w/ SBIG ST-401
Conditions:    Visually clear with moderate humidity (70%)
Weather:    59 deg. F 
Exposure: 156 minutes total @ ISO 800 (52 x 3 min exposures)
Filters:    Baader UV/IR Block internal to camera
Processing:    Focused and captured,  RAW to TIFF conversion, frame calibrations, frame stacking, Digital Development, scaling and JPEG conversion with ImagesPlus V3.