The attached picture of the Swan Nebula (M17) is from a series I took last summer toward the center of our galaxy. I used a Canon 60Da Camera and TeleVue101is telescope at June Hill Observatory. The data (12 minutes of exposure) was processed in Deep Sky Stacker software and Photoshop CS5.
The Swan nebula is a huge hydrogen/helium star forming cloud 6000 light years away in the constellation Sagittarius. It is so named because the central bright region of the nebula resembles a floating swan. Hidden inside the gas cloud of the Swan Nebula are dozens of very hot and massive ‘young’ stars. A million or more years old, these stars are 100 times brighter than our sun and cause the Swan Nebula to glow. Many more stars will form from the gravitational collapse of the Swan Nebula. If we could check back in a few million years we would find the Swan Nebula transformed into a magnificent star cluster.