M8 – The Lagoon Nebula

This beautiful interstellar cloud is towards the southern horizon during spring/summer months in the constellation Sagittarius. M8 is an emission nebula around 4,000-6,000 light-years away from Earth, and is roughly 110 by 50 light-years in diameter. It is classified as an H II region which is a low-density cloudy of ionized gas meaning that star formation has recently, in astronomical terms, taken place.

'X' Marks the spot of M8 - The Lagoon Nebula

‘X’ Marks the spot of M8 – The Lagoon Nebula

Remember that through a telescope a nebula isn’t going to be rich with color like you see in photos from other astronomers or from the Hubble Space Telescope. Our eyes are not sensitive enough to light to see the colors in low light conditions, so they appear gray in color when viewed through a telescope or binoculars.

My Observation: In the telescope with my light polluted skies, and with how low M8 sits on the southern horizon it’s hard to make out much nebulosity. I can pick out a small section that is a little gray where the nebula is located, but mainly I can see the central cluster of stars. These stars through the eyepiece almost form a bit of a smiley face using just the brightest stars within the cluster. In the image below the bright spot of the nebula towards the top is about all I can see through my telescope, which may be a result of my light polluted skies. I really need to get out to darker locations now that summer weather is finally happening here in the Adirondacks.

M8 - Lagoon Nebula

M8 – Lagoon Nebula

This image was taken on June 10, 2012 and is 36 images stacked at 30 seconds a piece giving me a total of 18 minutes of light collection along with 20 dark images. Using my Omni XLT 150 and Canon 350D prime focus. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and edited in Gimp. I also did a layer mask to remove some of the overexposed areas of the bight patches of nebula illuminated by the bright stars near the top.

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