Lagoon & Trifid Nebula

Saturday, September 3, 2005
8:46 pm - 9:31 pm EDT
Canon EOS 300D Digital Rebel
5 × 2 minutes @ ISO 400, 5 × 2 minutes @ ISO 800, 1 × 4 minutes @ ISO 1600
Black Forest Star Party (Cherry Springs State Park, Potter County, Pennsylvania)
Tele Vue Pronto 70 mm refractor (with Focal Reducer/Field Flattener) piggybacked on 10" LX200.
Dark frame subtracted, aligned, stacked, enhanced and cropped with Adobe Photoshop 7.0
The Lagoon (M8) and Trifid Nebula (M20) region is easily my favorite section of the sky to observe; be it with a telescope, binoculars, or the naked eye.  The Lagoon and Trifid are almost certainly part of the same vast complex.  Their distances are practically the same; the Lagoon is about 5,200 light-years away and the Trifid is 5,000 light-years distant.  Both are regions of active star formation.  In fact the open cluster NGC 6530 is one of the Lagoon's most recent offspring and can be found embedded in the great nebula itself.  The Trifid gets its name from the dark nebula that divides the pink emission nebula into three sections.  A blue reflection nebula is also visible just north of the Trifid (to the right), so M20 contains all three types of nebulae (emission, dark, and reflection).  The open clusters NGC 6559 (upper left) and M21 (far center right) are also visible in this image.