What I did over the summer…During this past summer I attached a Canon 60Da camera to a telescope and pointed it toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Taken at June Hill Observatory, the attached picture is a 20 minute exposure of the Lagoon Nebula.
As Earth orbits the Sun during the year different parts of our galaxy come into view. During summer the center of our galaxy is visible. The constellation Sagittarius looks like a teapot and is located toward the Milky Way’s center. Many Star Clusters and Nebulae are found there. I took pictures of several of them, and will be sending them out in emails in the months ahead. Of all the deep space objects in Sagittarius, the Lagoon Nebula is the biggest and brightest.
The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8 in the famous Messier catalog, is a huge gas cloud made mostly of hydrogen. It is 5000 light years distant and 120 light years across. Nebulae like the Lagoon are where stars form. Given enough time, the giant Lagoon gas cloud will eventually become a cluster of stars. The star formation process takes millions of years. When it is complete hundreds or perhaps thousands of stars will be created from the gravitational collapse of the Lagoon Nebula.
The attached wide angle picture of Sagittarius was taken with a camera lens. It reveals the teapot shape of Sagittarius and the location of many nebulae and star clusters. The close-up of the Lagoon Nebula was taken through the telescope at June Hill Observatory. This magnified view of the Lagoon nebula shows details of both dark and bright cloud features of the Lagoon Nebula along with stars that have already formed.