Astro photography

The Omega nebula and M24

The Omega Nebula and M24, August 26, 2008. The magenta cloud near the top of this photograph is the Omega Nebula, also known by its Messier number, M17. This immense cloud of hydrogen gas is barely visible to the naked eye as a hazy patch of light near the centre of the Milky Way, in the constellation Sagittarius. A cluster of massive young stars inside M17 heat the nebula with their radiation causing it to glow. The Omega Nebula is located about 5,500 light years away.

The immense cloud of stars in the lower half of the photograph is M24. This is one of the richest regions of the Milky Way to explore with binoculars or telescope on a summer night. The dark regions that look like holes or voids in M24 are actually clouds of cold, opaque dust floating in front of the stars. The darkest of these dark nebulae located to the right of centre has the name Barnard 92. Only one very bright star is able to shine through with a feeble light.

There is a third Messier object in the photograph, M18. It is an open cluster stars between M17 and M24. This open cluster is fairly inconspicuous, especially among the visual stunners in this part of the sky.

Some faint emission and reflection nebulae can be found near the lower centre of the photograph.

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Steve Irvine
R.R. # 2
Wiarton, Ontario
Canada N0H 2T0
(519) 534 2175