Messier 17, the Swan Nebula   HOME INDEX BACK NEXT

Emission nebula in Sagittarius

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Through a telescope, the brightest portions of Messier 17 look something like the profile of the head, neck, and body of a swan floating on a lake, hence its nickname.  Other names for this object, which focus on the curved section of the nebula, are the Omega Nebula and the Horseshoe Nebula.  Emission nebulae glow because of the energy they receive from nearby stars, and a cluster of stars illuminates this nebula.  New stars are thought to be forming there as well.  The nebula is about 5000 light years away.  It can be easily seen with binoculars, and its swan-like shape can be discerned (though the swan is upside-down for northern hemisphere observers).

Magnitude 6
Apparent Size 20'
Distance (light yrs) 5,000
Right Ascension 18:20.8
Declination -16 11
Field of View 29' x 22'

Image details:  Exposure times of 18 minutes luminance, and 9 minutes each of red, green, and blue, taken with an SBIG ST-8300M imager and a 14" Meade LX850 telescope at f/6. 

July 2014