M17, The Swan/Omega Nebula

M17, NGC 6618, Magnitude 6.0, Size 11.0' x 11.0', Constellation: Sagittarius

Image Details:

Comments: M17 is one of those wondrous nebulae that hold up well and look good no matter how poor the condition of your skies. It looks great in the city or suburbs, especially with an OIII or UHC filter, and just gets better as the skies get better. While some people like to call this the "Omega," I always see it as a graceful swan, floating alone on a poor of stars.

M17, known as the "Swan" and "Omega" Nebula due to the hook of nebulosity that extends from the main "bar," is located 2 degrees from the Small Sagittarius Star Cloud. The Eagle Nebula, M16 is also about 2 degrees away. Unlike the Eagle, The Swan doesn't have a prominent star cluster associated with it, though about 50 stars in its vicinity have been determined to "belong" to the nebula. Likely the hot O stars illuminating it are still buried within its clouds. Distance to this object may be about 6,000 light years.

This bright nebula was duck-soup for the DSI despite the slightly light-polluted skies of Fairhope. If there's anything wrong with this image, it's that it's a bit over processed. I was very much still finding my way with the DSI at the time I took this shot. This was one of the first images to really clue me into the amazing capabilities of the DSI--I was blown away by the dim nebulosity away from the main Swan shape.

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