Messier 16, the Eagle Nebula

The Eagle Nebula is located about 7,000 light years from Earth, in the constellation Serpens. It is a combination of an open cluster (a loose grouping of related stars) and a gaseous nebula consisting of gas and dust. It is relatively young (about 5.5 million years) and is an active area for new star formation.

The dark areas near the center of the nebula are the famous "Pillars of Creation" imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope (see Hubble image below). They are dark, not because they are "holes" in the nebula, but rather because they are made up of dust that blocks the light of the nebula. It is thought that stars are forming inside the pillars and eventually will become visible as the pillars "evaporate".

Date: July 13, 2002
Exposure: 50 + 30 minutes
Telescope: LX200 10" @ f/10
Guiding: SBIG STV
Camera: Olympus OM-1
Film: Kodak Royal Gold 200
Scanned: Hewlett Packard S20
Processing: Two images combined in RegiStar. Adjusted curves and levels in Adobe Photoshop 6. Grain reduction using BigSmooth settings of 3 Radius, 20 MaxDiff.
Ambient conditions: 53 F, 99% RH


Central region of Eagle Nebula by the Hubble Space Telescope.

These same "pillars" of gas and dust can be seen in my image
near the center of the nebula.

The resolution of Hubble's camera is "slightly" better than
that of my small, ground-based telescope.


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