Sagittarius Star Cloud (M24)

Sunday, July 6, 2008
12:35 am - 1:03 am EDT
CAMERA: Canon EOS 300D Digital Rebel (unmodified)
30 minutes (6 x 5 minutes @ ISO 400)
North Fulton Cemetery (Wakeshma Township, Kalamazoo County, Michigan)
Tele Vue Pronto 70 mm refractor (with Focal Reducer/Field Flattener) piggybacked on 10" LX200.
Registered, aligned, stacked, and dark frame subtracted with Deep Sky Stacker.  Further processing done with Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Noise Ninja 2.
The elongated compilation of stars seen above is not an open cluster or dwarf galaxy. It's one of many "star clouds" in the Milky Way Galaxy. The top three stars of the Teapot in Sagittarius form an arrow that guides you to the star cloud, cataloged as M24 by Charles Messier in 1764. To the unaided eye, it appears as a narrow concentration of light in the Milky Way. Under dark skies, it resolves into a collection of innumerable stars through the telescope. The view of M24 through a friends 16-inch Dobsonian at low power will forever be etched in my mind's eye. Dark nebulae visible in the star cloud are perhaps as equally impressive under dry, transparent skies. The open cluster NGC 6603 is visible just to the center-right of the image. I hope to reimage this region on a drier night, as it was very difficult keeping all my optics clear with the dewy conditions presented to me that morning.