We have had a small run of good nights recently, which means I'm wandering about in the daylight hours looking like the walking dead. However, it's all in a good cause, as I'm starting to get a bit more practiced with long-exposure, wide-sky photography. I have to say that it is still a bit odd to see five major targets captured in a single image, even if the overall image covers the border region of three constellations: Sagittarius, Ophiuchus, and Scorpius. 

The frame is centered near the 'lid' of the teapot asterism in Sagittarius. The tiny blob of gas in the lower centre of the image is Messier 8 (the Lagoon Nebula), which is a popular target in its own right. M8 is 5200 light-years from Earth, and is a very active stellar nursery. Just a bit to lower and to the left, you will see an even tinier pairing of pink and blue. This is the Trifid Nebula (Messier 20), another favourite of astrophotographers. It is somewhat closer than M8, at 4100 light-years. Following a line from M8 through M20, you will arrive at a small, concentrated smattering of stars. This is the open cluster Messier 23, which is approximately 2,000 light-years distant from us. M23 is a fairly young cluster with a good mix of stellar types; estimates of its age vary between 220 and 330 million years old.

Almost straight above it, dominating the top left quadrant, is the large "Pipe Nebula", which is the back end of the much larger Dark Horse Nebula. Tilting your head to the left will make it easier to see the stem and bowl. The Pipe's mailing address is the Ophiuchus constellation, and is about 450 light years away.  The last object I'll mention is Messier 7, Ptolemy's Cluster, which is buried in the bright background of the Milky Way at the top of the image, just to the right of the center. Ptolemy's Cluster was well known to the ancients, not least due to its size (about twice the width of a full moon) and its brightness. It is a naked-eye object in a dark sky; you can find it near the stinger of Scorpius.


Date: May 27, 2022
  Approximate location: 
  RA: 17h 58m 39s
  Dec: -28°45'32"
Photo stuff: 35 subs @ 60s ea,; ISO 1600; Canon 60D with Canon 50mm lens (@ f/4)