Messier Objects

M8 "Lagoon Nebula": Emission Nebula and Open Star Cluster (Sagittarius) RA: 18h 04.0m / DEC: -24° 18'.0
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder

M8-Lagoon Nebula The summer Milky Way in Sagittarius is rich in glittering open clusters and bright emission nebulae. Arguably, the most stunning object in the Archer is M8, the Lagoon Nebula. You will find the Lagoon Nebula near the Teapot asterism, about 6 degrees north of the spout. It is unavoidable to the naked eye from a dark sky site. The drawing at left began as a low power view in my 10-inch Newtonian. I used a TeleVue 32-mm Plossl to generate 36X over 1.4 degree field of view. An Oxygen III (OIII) filter was added to increase contrast between the nebula and sky. The results were stunning.

M8-Lagoon Nebula Removing the OIII filter and increasing magnification to 129X (Meade 8.8-mm UWA eyepiece) produces an experience that cannot be equaled by glossy photos or HST images. The amount and intricacy of detail is difficult to describe. It is amazing such wonders can be captured through the intelligent use of a pair of mirrors and a few bits of glass. It is almost as though you are floating within the nebula. Dark lanes separate the nebula into three main sections, not unlike the confluence of three celestial rivers. They join at the heart of the open star cluster associated with the Lagoon, NGC 6530. About 60 stars are recorded in the drawing at right. The nebulosity spills beyond the 40' field diameter. The brightest portion of the Lagoon Nebula surrounds a pair of 8th magnitude stars just east of the star cluster.

M7 M9


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Revised: February 14, 2002 [WDF]