M8: the Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius

The Lagoon Nebula is one of the major landmarks of the summer Milky Way, a star-forming region bright enough to be seen with the naked eye. The stars we see within it are children of the nebula, very young by the standards of stars.

This was shot with my lovely little Astro-Physics Stowaway refractor, a 92mm instrument at f/6.6.

My Canon DSLR is unmodified, meaning it still has the infra-red filter that diminishes the sensor's response to the red hydrogen-alpha light that makes up much of the output of nebulae like the Lagoon. This obligates me to make longer exposures, and makes it more difficult for me to photograph certain nebulae, but it does have its advantages. The red-magenta color of hydrogen-alpha tends to dominate most nebula photography, resulting in a garish view very unlike the more balanced, subtle views seen by visual observers. To the eye, nebular light is dominated by the blue-green of ionized oxygen, and I prefer to show that as much as possible.

Image copyright by Joe Bergeron.