M8 and M20 Region


M8 and M20 Region

Distance: 5,000 to 6,000 Light Years
Size: 3.67 x 2.87 Degree FOV
Telescope: Borg 71
Camera: QSI 683
Mount: AP 900
Exposure: L 20×300 Bin 1, RGB 20×150 Bin2

This is my image of the area around Messier 8 and Messier 20 located in the constellation Sagittarius. While M8 and M20 are the primary objects in this field there are also several IC and NGC catalog objects plus Messier 21 that are shown in this field of view.
Messier 8, also listed as NGC 6523, is a large emission nebula. It is an active star forming region about 5,000 light years away. The size of the nebula is about 90 x 40 arc minutes or about 140 x 60 light years across. There are several Bok globules in the nebula and three are listed in Barnard’s catalog. Barnard 88 is the comet shaped globule that runs from North to south. Barnard 89 is the globule that is in the center of M8 next to the open cluster NGC 6530. B296 is a long thin globule to the left of the center star cluster. NGC 6530 is the open cluster that is at the core of Messier 8. This is a young star cluster with an age of about 2 million years and is populated by very hot young stars. This cluster is thought to be in front of M8 as there is not a lot of reddening from the gas and dust of M8.
Messier 20, also listed as NGC 6514, is a combination of emission, reflection, and dark nebula. It is about 5,000 light years away and contains regions of active star formation. M20 is about 28 arc minutes in diameter or about 42 light years across. M20 basically consists of three separate sections divided by a dark nebula cataloged as Barnard 85.
Messier 21 is an open star cluster at the top of my image. It is about 4,250 light years away and it is about 13 arc minutes across. The age of the cluster is about 4.6 million years and contains less than 100 stars.
IC 1274 is a faint circular nebula and contains a small star cluster at its center. This cluster is the source of illumination for the nebula. The cluster is about a million years old.
IC 1275 is another faint circular nebula just below IC 1274. It has less structure that IC1274.
IC 4678 is a very dim nebula and it is located just above and to the left of Messier 8. It appears as a white smudge with some small reddish filaments.
IC 4681 is a very small reflection nebula just above IC 1274/1275. It appears as a bluish smudge surrounding a small star.
IC 4684 is located very close to IC 4681 and it appears as a bluish smudge surrounding a small star.
IC 4685 is a small emission nebula just below IC 1274/1275.

This image was captured from a dark site in one night. The conditions were excellent with 30% humidity and no wind. I framed the image to get all of the above objects in one frame. I went back and forth on whether to rotate the camera 90 degrees to get a different field. The area is so rich in targets I don’t think I could have gone wrong either way.

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