Friday, August 06, 2010

Star Clouds and Dark Nebulas (Nebulae)

Nebula kind of sounds plural, if you have had a little too much education for your own good. So I had a friend back in the day who called a singular nebulous object a nebulon. But for some reason it is a nebula and the plural is nebulae. (neb-you-lee) You'll probably need to click on these pictures to make them large enough to see the details well. The image below is the full frame from my Canon 40D and 85mm lens. It is a combination of 10 two minute long exposures, working at ISO 1600 and f4.
The picture above shows the spout of the Sagitarius "teapot" asterism and a few well known deep sky objects. The large open cluster, M6, is down towards the lower right corner. M20, the Trifid nebula, is at the top edge a little to the right of the middle, and M8, the Lagoon Nebula is below it. M6 and M8 can be sometimes be spotted with the naked eye here on Bonaire. The next three pictures are crops of the above picture, working from top to bottom.
You can see the Lagoon nebula a bit to the right of the middle of the image and the triffid nebula near the top edge. The Triffid has some blue and red going on. Moving down to the lower left of the Lagoon nebula, you can spot the yellowish globular clusters NGC 6544 and 6533.

This is the middle part of the frame and really shows some of the dark nebulae in this part of the Milky Way. This area looks amazing in our 20x80 binoculars. The dark areas are caused by patches of interstellar dust that block the light from the background milky way stars. If you were to look at an infrared image of this area, you would be able to peer right through the dust and see all the stars.
Astronomers observe at all sorts of wavelengths, from radio waves to x-rays.

This is the bottom part of the main image and shows the open cluster M6 at the lower right corner. M6 even looks great in our 10x50 binoculars. The star at the top right corner of this image is the same star at the lower right corner of the middle image.

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