The M8 and M20 Region in Sagittarius


Copyright 2004 Hap Griffin

This photograph shows a portion of the southern Milky Way, just northwest of the Sagittarius "Teapot".   The most conspicuous objects are M8, the Lagoon Nebula at the lower center and M20, the Trifid nebula to its north.  M8 and M20 are both areas of active star birth.  A cluster of young stars, NGC 6530, can be seen in M8 still in their "cocoon".   A group of blue reflection nebulae an be seen to the east of M8.  These include  NGC 1274, NGC 1275, NGC 4685 and NGC 6559.  Just below them the small blue planetary nebula PLN 6-2.1 can be spotted.  

Note the complex web of dark nebulae to the east of M8 and M20.  These are not just areas where there are few stars...instead, the background stars are obscured by great clouds of dust blocking our view of them.  This area of our galaxy is rich with stars, as can be seen in the clear area just to the north of M8.  It is the intervening dark clouds which give the Milky Way its "texture".

To get a wider perspective of this area click here.  Close-up shots of M8 and M20 can be found elsewhere in this gallery.



Date/Location:    September 4, 2004     Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    Canon 10D Digital SLR through Orion ED80 APO refractor with Meade .63 focal reducer 
Focal Ratio:   f4.5
Guiding:    Auto via SBIG ST-237 through 10" LX-200
Conditions:    Visually clear - good for summer in South Carolina
Weather:    70 F
Exposure: 9 x 3 minutes @ ISO 800
Filters:    None
Processing:    Focused and captured with DSLRFocus.  RAW to TIFF conversion, dark and flat frame calibration, Digital Development, resizing and JPEG conversion in ImagesPlus.