M16 – The Eagle Nebula

M16, also known as the Eagle Nebula, which contains the popular pillars of creation that you may have seen images from around the internet. M16 is an active star forming region in the constellation, Serpens, which has already created a significant amount of young stars. Discovered by Philippe Loys de Cheseaux who described it as only a star cluster in 1745-1746. Charles Messier independently discovered it on June 3, 1764 and described the stars “enmeshed in a faint glow.” M16 is roughly 7000 light years away, placed close to the border of Scutum and Sagittarius, situated in the next inner spiral arm of the Milky Way (the Sagittarius or Sagittarius-Carina Arm). The star cluster you see within the nebulous region was created by this gaseous and dusty cloud. The stars within light up this emission nebula, and the nebula itself is still in the process of forming new stars. Star forming activity is noted along the dark “trunk” or “pillars of creation” within the nebula which can be seen in the image below.

The stars within are only about 5.5 million years old, relatively young astronomically speaking. The brightest star within M16 is a visual magnitude of 8.24. The entire nebula has a diamter of over 30 arc minutes corresponding to a linear size of 70×55 light years.

M16 is located within the box. Serpens starts to the right of Ophiuchus and continues to the left.

M16 is located within the box. Serpens starts to the right of Ophiuchus and continues to the left.

Best seen at low powers you can see the glow of the nebula created by the stars shining on the gas and dust. Increasing magnification allows you to see the stars a bit better, but it takes away most of the detail of the nebula. It isn’t until you setup to do long exposures that much of the detail of the nebula becomes apparent. Larger aperture telescopes along with an O-III filter may increase some of the detail visually, and the dark pillars can be seen from dark skies and with larger telescopes 10 inches or more.

M16 – The Eagle Nebula 07-06-13

This is 67 images at 1 minute a piece, ISO 800, 36 dark frames, and 33 flat frames. Stacked in deep sky stacker and post processing done in Photoshop.

All my Messier Object information from: The Messier Catalog. Screen shot of object location taken in Stellarium. Image stacking in Deep Sky Stacker.

Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Modded Canon 350D
T-ring and adapter
Polar Scope for alignment

Visiting Some Old Objects

This post is a bit like one of your favorite childhood movies or tv shows being redone, but only better. It’s better because these remakes came out much better than their original versions. Below I have setup a side by side comparison of old and new, and then the new version below it for a comparison, with a click-through link of the original post in the titles.

All of these remakes were all made from the same stacks as the originals; the only thing different is my steps in post processing of the image in Photoshop. The links back to the original pictures have the information on the stacks if you’re curious about how many lights, and dark frames I did.

I did a bit more than just adjusting levels and curves. I took the steps a bit further by adjusting highlights and mid-tones, applying an artificial flat, and adjusted vibrance and hue.

M16 – The Eagle Nebula

M16 – The Eagle Nebula. Before on the Left, After on the Right

M16 – The Eagle Nebula

M20 and M21 – The Trifid Nebula, and Open Cluster

M20 and M21 – Trifid Nebula and Open Cluster. Before on the Left, After on the Right.

M20 and M21 – The Trifid Nebula and Open Cluster

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula. Before on the Left, After on the Right

M27 – The Dumbbell Nebula

M33 – Triangulum Galaxy

M33 – The Triangulum Galaxy. Before on the Left, After on the Right.

M33 – The Triangulum Galaxy

M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy

M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy. Before on the Left, After on the Right.

M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy

Look at all the faint galaxies I was able to pop out in view in M51. A few months of editing has come a long way.

M16 – The Eagle Nebula

An open cluster of stars in the constellation of Serpens, although it’s close to Scutum, with a diffuse emissions nebula which is another H II region. This nebula, in some images, has an eagle shape visible within it, and is also the home of the Pillars of Creation image from the Hubble Space Telescope. The nebula is a star forming region in the thick clouds of gas and dust which stand out in the pillars. It’s distance is around 6500 light-years away, and the towers of gas coming off the nebula are approximately 9.5 light-years high.

Location of M16 - The Eagle Nebula

‘X’ marks the spot of M16

My Observation: This nebula is extremely faint, and I was only able to spot a hint of nebulosity through the eyepiece after gazing at it for a few minutes. Averted vision was definitely needed in order to spot this nebula. Luckily I had looked up and seen the Eagle Nebula enough to know what to look for as far as the open cluster within it which I could see no problem through the eyepiece. I also used M17 as a guide as M16 is a little over 2° northeast of it.

The Eagle Nebula, Messier 16

M16 – The Eagle Nebula. June 14, 2012

M16 – Eagle Nebula – This is a re-edit of the same original images.

This image is 41 images at 30 seconds a piece and 41 dark frames, stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processed in Photoshop. Image taken on June 14, 2012