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Constellation In Focus: Sagittarius
Constellation In Focus: Sagittarius

M6 and M7, two open clusters, are bright and obvious in Sagittarius, and make for easy binocular objects. Telescopes open up both in rich detail and M6 is seen to be aptly named "The Butterfly Cluster".

NGC 6416 is a small open cluster and NGC 6383 is a dim, wide cluster with nebulosity.

M8 "The Lagoon Nebula" is the brightest nebula after the great Orion nebula. It?s actually more massive than M42 but is farther away: 4,500 light-years distant compared with 1,500 light-years. M8 is best viewed with a wide-field eyepiece. Less spectacular, but still worth some time, M20 "The Trifid Nebula" is also easily seen in binoculars; a telescope will bring out the dust band that gives the nebula is shape and name. M21 is a small rich open cluster in the same field of view as M20.

M23, excellent in small scopes, is an open cluster seen in binocs, as is M25.

M24 "Delle Caustiche" is a large and lovely "frothy" looking region seen easily in binoculars. It?s actually part of the Milky Way and only stands out as a distinct patch because, like M23 and M25, it sits in front of a dark nebula that obscures our line of sight to the core of the galaxy. (By the way, the very center of our galaxy is marked above with a red target symbol.)

M22 is a sweet globular cluster, the third-brightest in the sky. Populated by half a million stars, it?s distant by a mere 10,000 light-years, making it the nearest glob to Earth.

M16 and M17 are two nebulae, the latter in particular a rewarding target. M16, however, is notable for being the location of "The Pillars of Creation," the iconic image produced by the Hubble Space Telescope. M18 "The Black Swan" is a pretty open cluster with about 40 members, surrounded by fainter background stars in the band of the Milky Way.

August 2006

Date Taken: 05/24/2011
Author: Sean O'Dwyer
Category: Astronomy

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