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Astronomy Picture of the Day
Search Results for "Lagoon OR M8"




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Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2023 December 1 - Milky Way Rising
Explanation: The core of the Milky Way is rising beyond the Chilean mountain-top La Silla Observatory in this deep night skyscape. Seen toward the constellation Sagittarius, our home galaxy's center is flanked on the left, by the European Southern Observatory's New Technology Telescope which pioneered the use of active optics to accurately control the shape of large telescope mirrors. To the right stands the ESO 3.6-meter Telescope, home of the exoplanet hunting HARPS and NIRPS spectrographs. Between them, the galaxy's central bulge is filled with obscuring clouds of interstellar dust, bright stars, clusters, and nebulae. Prominent reddish hydrogen emission from the star-forming Lagoon Nebula, M8, is near center. The Trifid Nebula, M20, combines blue light of a dusty reflection nebula with reddish emission just left of the cosmic Lagoon. Both are popular stops on telescopic tours of the galactic center. The composited image is a stack of separate exposures for ground and sky made in April 2023, all captured consecutively with the same framing and camera equipment.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2023 September 28 - The Deep Lagoon
Explanation: Ridges of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds inhabit the turbulent, cosmic depths of the Lagoon Nebula. Also known as M8, The bright star forming region is about 5,000 light-years distant. It makes for a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Dominated by the telltale red emission of ionized hydrogen atoms recombining with stripped electrons, this deep telescopic view of the Lagoon's central reaches is about 40 light-years across. The bright hourglass shape near the center of the frame is gas ionized and sculpted by energetic radiation and extreme stellar winds from a massive young star.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2023 August 15 – A Triply Glowing Night Sky over Iceland
Explanation: The Sun is not the quiet place it seems. It expels an unsteady stream of energetic electrons and protons known as the solar wind. These charged particles deform the Earth's magnetosphere, change paths, and collide with atoms in Earth's atmosphere, causing the generation of light in auroras like that visible in green in the image left. Earth itself is also geologically active and covered with volcanoes. For example, Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland, seen emitting hot gas in orange near the image center. Iceland is one of the most geologically active places on Earth. On the far right is the Svartsengi geothermal power plant which creates the famous human-made Blue Lagoon, shown emitting white gas plumes. The featured composition therefore highlights three different sky phenomena, including both natural and human-made phenomena.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2023 July 18 – Milky Way above La Palma Observatory
Explanation: What's happening in the night sky? To help find out, telescopes all over the globe will be pointing into deep space. Investigations will include trying to understand the early universe, finding and tracking Earth-menacing asteroids, searching for planets that might contain extra-terrestrial life, and monitoring stars to help better understand our Sun. The featured composite includes foreground and background images taken in April from a mountaintop on La Palma island in the Canary Islands of Spain. Pictured, several telescopes from the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory are shown in front of a dark night sky. Telescopes in the foreground include, left to right, Magic 1, Galileo, Magic 2, Gran Telescopio Canarias, and LST. Sky highlights in the background include the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, the constellations of Sagittarius, Ophiuchus and Scorpius, the red-glowing Eagle and Lagoon Nebulas, and the stars Alrami and Antares. Due to observatories like this, humanity has understood more about our night sky in the past 100 years than ever before in all of human history.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2023 June 19 – The Busy Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible near the image center, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. A tremendously bright nearby star, Herschel 36, lights the area. Vast walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 15 light years, combines images taken in four colors by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5000 light years distant toward the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius).

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 November 7 - A Total Lunar Eclipse Over Tajikistan
Explanation: If the full Moon suddenly faded, what would you see? The answer was recorded in a dramatic time lapse video taken during the total lunar eclipse in 2011 from Tajikistan. During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth moves between the Moon and the Sun, causing the moon to fade dramatically. The Moon never gets completely dark, though, since the Earth's atmosphere refracts some light. As the featured video begins, the scene may appear to be daytime and sunlit, but actually it is a nighttime and lit by the glow of the full Moon. As the Moon becomes eclipsed and fades, background stars become visible and here can be seen reflected in a lake. Most spectacularly, the sky surrounding the eclipsed moon suddenly appears to be full of stars and highlighted by the busy plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. The sequence repeats with a closer view, and the final image shows the placement of the eclipsed Moon near the Eagle, Swan, Trifid, and Lagoon nebulas. Nearly two hours after the eclipse started, the moon emerged from the Earth's shadow and its bright full glare again dominated the sky. Later today or tomorrow, depending on your location relative to the International Date Line, a new total lunar eclipse will take place -- with totality being primarily visible over northeastern Asia and northwestern North America.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 August 8 - The Lagoon Nebula without Stars
Explanation: Ridges of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds inhabit the turbulent, cosmic depths of the Lagoon Nebula. Also known as M8, the bright star forming region is about 5,000 light-years distant. But it still makes for a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius, toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Dominated by the telltale red emission of ionized hydrogen atoms recombining with stripped electrons, this stunning, deep view of the Lagoon is nearly 100 light-years across. Right of center, the bright, compact, hourglass shape is gas ionized and sculpted by energetic radiation and extreme stellar winds from a massive young star. In fact, although digitally removed from the featured image, the many bright stars of open cluster NGC 6530 drift within the nebula, just formed in the Lagoon several million years ago.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 May 25 - The Lively Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible near the image center, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. A tremendously bright nearby star, Herschel 36, lights the area. Vast walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 10 light years, combines images taken in six colors by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5000 light years distant toward the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius).

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2022 April 13 - Milky Way over Devils Tower
Explanation: What created Devils Tower? The origin of this extraordinary rock monolith in Wyoming, USA is still debated, with a leading hypothesis holding that it is a hardened lava plume that never reached the surface to become a volcano. In this theory, the lighter rock that once surrounded the dense volcanic neck has now eroded away, leaving the dramatic tower. Known by Native Americans by names including Bear's Lodge and Great Gray Horn, the dense rock includes the longest hexagonal columns known, some over 180-meters tall. High above, the central band of the Milky Way galaxy arches across the sky. Many notable sky objects are visible, including dark strands of the Pipe Nebula and the reddish Lagoon Nebula to the tower's right. Green grass and trees line the foreground, while clouds appear near the horizon to the tower's left. Unlike many other international landmarks, mountaineers are permitted to climb Devils Tower.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 October 25 - Road to the Galactic Center
Explanation: Does the road to our galaxy's center go through Monument Valley? It doesn't have to, but if your road does -- take a picture. In this case, the road is US Route 163 and iconic buttes on the Navajo National Reservation populate the horizon. The band of Milky Way Galaxy stretches down from the sky and appears to be a continuation of the road on Earth. Filaments of dust darken the Milky Way, in contrast to billions of bright stars and several colorful glowing gas clouds including the Lagoon and Trifid nebulas. The featured picture is a composite of images taken with the same camera and from the same location -- Forest Gump Point in Utah, USA. The foreground was taken just after sunset in early September during the blue hour, while the background is a mosaic of four exposures captured a few hours later.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 October 7 - NGC 6559: East of the Lagoon
Explanation: Slide your telescope just east of the Lagoon Nebula to find this alluring field of view in the rich starfields of the constellation Sagittarius toward the central Milky Way. Of course the Lagoon nebula is also known as M8, the eighth object listed in Charles Messier's famous catalog of bright nebulae and star clusters. Close on the sky but slightly fainter than M8, this complex of nebulae was left out of Messier's list though. It contains obscuring dust, striking red emission and blue reflection nebulae of star-forming region NGC 6559 at right. Like M8, NGC 6559 is located about 5,000 light-years away along the edge of a large molecular cloud. At that distance, this telescopic frame nearly 3 full moons wide would span about 130 light-years.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 October 1 - The Central Milky Way from Lagoon to Pipe
Explanation: Dark markings and colorful clouds inhabit this stellar landscape. The deep and expansive view spans more than 30 full moons across crowded star fields toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Cataloged in the early 20th century by astronomer E. E. Barnard, the obscuring interstellar dust clouds seen toward the right include B59, B72, B77 and B78, part of the Ophiuchus molecular cloud complex a mere 450 light-years away. To the eye their combined shape suggests a pipe stem and bowl, and so the dark nebula's popular name is the Pipe Nebula. Three bright nebulae gathered on the left are stellar nurseries some 5,000 light-years distant toward the constellation Sagittarius. In the 18th century astronomer Charles Messier included two of them in his catalog of bright clusters and nebulae; M8, the largest of the triplet, and colorful M20 just above. The third prominent emission region includes NGC 6559 at the far left. Itself divided by obscuring dust lanes, M20 is also known as the Trifid. M8's popular moniker is the Lagoon Nebula.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 May 15 - The Southern Cliff in the Lagoon
Explanation: Undulating bright ridges and dusty clouds cross this close-up of the nearby star forming region M8, also known as the Lagoon Nebula. A sharp, false-color composite of narrow band visible and broad band near-infrared data from the 8-meter Gemini South Telescope, the entire view spans about 20 light-years through a region of the nebula sometimes called the Southern Cliff. The highly detailed image explores the association of many newborn stars imbedded in the tips of the bright-rimmed clouds and Herbig-Haro objects. Abundant in star-forming regions, Herbig-Haro objects are produced as powerful jets emitted by young stars in the process of formation heat the surrounding clouds of gas and dust. The cosmic Lagoon is found some 5,000 light-years away toward the constellation Sagittarius and the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. (For location and scale, check out this image superimposing the close-up of the Southern Cliff within the larger Lagoon Nebula. The scale image is courtesy R. Barba'.)

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 April 26 - A Sagittarius Triplet
Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula below and right of center, and colorful M20 near the top of the frame. The third emission region includes NGC 6559, left of M8 and separated from the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. Over a hundred light-years across the expansive M8 is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. Glowing hydrogen gas creates the dominant red color of the emission nebulae. But for striking contrast, blue hues in the Trifid are due to dust reflected starlight. The broad interstellarscape spans almost 4 degrees or 8 full moons on the sky.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2021 March 19 - Central Lagoon in Infrared
Explanation: Stars fill this infrared view, spanning 4 light-years across the center of the Lagoon Nebula. Visible light images show the glowing gas and obscuring dust clouds that dominate the scene. But this infrared image, constructed from Hubble Space Telescope data, peers closer to the heart of the active star-forming region revealing newborn stars scattered within, against a crowded field of background stars toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy. This tumultuous stellar nursery's central regions are sculpted and energized by the massive, young Herschel 36, seen as the bright star near center in the field of view. Herschel 36 is actually a multiple system of massive stars. At over 30 times the mass of the Sun and less than 1 million years old, the most massive star in the system should live to a stellar old age of 5 million years. Compare that to the almost 5 billion year old Sun which will evolve into a red giant in only another 5 billion years or so. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 4,000 light-years away within the boundaries of the constellation Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 September 7 - The Milky Way over St Michaels Mount
Explanation: Where do land and sky converge? On every horizon -- but in this case the path on the ground leads to St Michael's Mount (Cornish: Karrek Loos yn Koos), a small historic island in Cornwall, England. The Mount is usually surrounded by shallow water, but at low tide is spanned by a human-constructed causeway. The path on the sky, actually the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, also appears to lead to St Michael's Mount, but really lies far in the distance. The red nebula in the Milky Way, just above the castle, is the Lagoon Nebula, while bright Jupiter shines to the left, and a luminous meteor flashes to the right. The foreground and background images of this featured composite were taken on the same July night and from the same location. Although meteors are fleeting and the Milky Way disk shifts in the night as the Earth turns, Jupiter will remain prominent in the sunset sky into December.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 June 1 - The Lively Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible near the image center, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. A tremendously bright nearby star, Herschel 36, lights the area. Vast walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 15 light years, features two colors detected by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5000 light years distant toward the constellation of the Archer Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2020 April 21 - Eye on the Milky Way
Explanation: Have you ever had stars in your eyes? It appears that the eye on the left does, and moreover it appears to be gazing at even more stars. The featured 27-frame mosaic was taken last July from Ojas de Salar in the Atacama Desert of Chile. The eye is actually a small lagoon captured reflecting the dark night sky as the Milky Way Galaxy arched overhead. The seemingly smooth band of the Milky Way is really composed of billions of stars, but decorated with filaments of light-absorbing dust and red-glowing nebulas. Additionally, both Jupiter (slightly left the galactic arch) and Saturn (slightly to the right) are visible. The lights of small towns dot the unusual vertical horizon. The rocky terrain around the lagoon appears to some more like the surface of Mars than our Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 November 4 - Near the Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: Stars are battling gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula but the photographers are winning. Also known as M8, this photogenic nebula is visible even without binoculars towards the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius). The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The glowing gas results from high-energy starlight striking interstellar hydrogen gas and trace amounts of sulfur, and oxygen gases. The dark dust filaments that lace M8 were created in the atmospheres of cool giant stars and in the debris from supernovae explosions. The light from M8 we see today left about 5,000 years ago. Light takes about 50 years to cross this section of M8.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 September 27 - The Annotated Galactic Center
Explanation: The center of our Milky Way galaxy can be found some 26,000 light-years away toward the constellation Sagittarius. Even on a dark night, you can't really see it though. Gaze in that direction, and your sight-line is quickly obscured by intervening interstellar dust. In fact, dark dust clouds, glowing nebulae, and crowded starfieds are packed along the fertile galactic plane and central regions of our galaxy. This annotated view, a mosaic of dark sky images, highlights some favorites, particularly for small telescope or binocular equipped skygazers. The cropped version puts the direction to the galactic center on the far right. It identifies well-known Messier objects like the Lagoon nebula (M8), the Trifid (M20), star cloud M24, and some of E.E. Barnard's dark markings on the sky. A full version extends the view to the right toward the constellation Scorpius, in all covering over 20 degrees across the center of the Milky Way.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 August 9 - Atlas at Dawn
Explanation: This single, 251-second long exposure follows the early flight of an Atlas V rocket on August 8, streaking eastward toward the dawn from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, planet Earth. The launch of the United Launch Alliance rocket was at 6:13am local time. Sunrise was not until 6:48am, but the rocket's downrange plume at altitude is brightly lit by the Sun still just below the eastern horizon. Waters of the Indian River Lagoon in Palm Shores, Forida reflect subtle colors and warming glow of the otherwise calm, predawn sky. The mighty Atlas rocket carried a military communications satellite into Earth orbit. Of course, this weekend the streaks you see in clear skies before the dawn could be Perseid Meteors.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 May 21 - Deep Field: Nebulae of Sagittarius
Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula just left of center, and colorful M20 on the top left. The third emission region includes NGC 6559 and can be found to the right of M8. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. Over a hundred light-years across, the expansive M8 is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. Glowing hydrogen gas creates the dominant red color of the emission nebulae. In striking contrast, blue hues in the Trifid are due to dust reflected starlight. Recently formed bright blue stars are visible nearby. The colorful composite skyscape was recorded in 2018 in Teide National Park in the Canary Islands, Spain.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2019 April 25 - Pan-STARRS Across the Lagoon
Explanation: Ridges of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds inhabit the turbulent, cosmic depths of the Lagoon Nebula. Also known as M8, the bright star forming region is about 5,000 light-years distant. But it still makes for a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius, toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Dominated by the telltale red emission of ionized hydrogen atoms recombining with stripped electrons, this stunning view of the Lagoon is over 100 light-years across. At its center, the bright, compact, hourglass shape is gas ionized and sculpted by energetic radiation and extreme stellar winds from a massive young star. In fact, the many bright stars of open cluster NGC 6530 drift within the nebula, just formed in the Lagoon several million years ago. Broadband image data from Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System) was combined with narrowband data from amateur telescopes to create this wide and deep portrait of the Lagoon Nebula.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 November 12 - The Lagoon Nebula is Stars, Gas, and Dust
Explanation: The majestic Lagoon Nebula is filled with hot gas and the home for many young stars. Spanning 100 light years across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the Lagoon Nebula is so big and bright that it can be seen without a telescope toward the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius). Many bright stars are visible from NGC 6530, an open cluster that formed in the nebula only several million years ago. The greater nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, is named "Lagoon" for the band of dust seen to the left of the open cluster's center. The featured image was taken in three colors with details are brought out by light emitted by Hydrogen. Star formation continues in the Lagoon Nebula as witnessed by the many dark dust-laden globules that exist there.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 September 29 - 55 Nights with Saturn
Explanation: For 55 consecutive nights Mediterranean skies were at least partly clear this summer, from the 1st of July to the 24th of August 2018. An exposure from each night was incorporated in this composited telephoto and telescopic image to follow bright planet Saturn as it wandered through the generous evening skies. Through August, the outer planet's seasonal apparent retrograde motion slowed and drifted to the right, framed by a starry background. That brought it near the line-of-sight to the central Milky Way, and the beautiful Lagoon (M8) and Trifid (M20) nebulae. Of course Saturn's largest moon Titan was also along for the ride. Swinging around the gas giant in a 16 day long orbit, Titan's resulting wave-like motion is easier to spot when the almost-too-bright Saturn is digitally edited from the scene.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 August 11 - Moon, Mars, and Milky Way
Explanation: Just two weeks ago, dark skies over the desert in northern Iran held this alluring celestial vista. The dramatic digital mosaic finds the Moon and Mars alongside the Milky Way's dusty rifts, stars, and nebulae. Captured through a series of exposures to cover a range in brightness, that night's otherwise Full Moon is immersed in Earth's shadow. It actually appears fainter and redder than the Red Planet itself during the widely watched total lunar eclipse. For cosmic tourists, the skyscape also includes the Lagoon (M8) and Trifid (M20) nebulae and planet Saturn shining against the Milky Way's pale starlight. The Moon isn't quite done with its shadow play, though. Today, the New Moon partially eclipses the Sun for much of northern planet Earth.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 July 24 - Clouds of Earth and Sky
Explanation: If you go high enough, you may find yourself on a picturesque perch between the water clouds of the Earth and the star clouds of the Milky Way. Such was the case last month for one adventurous alpinist astrophotographer. Captured here in the foreground above white clouds are mountain peaks in the Dolomite range in northern Italy. This multi-exposure image was captured from Lagazuoi, one of the Dolomites. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the Dolomites were not mountains but islands an ancient sea that rose through colliding tectonic plates. The Dolomites divergent history accounts for its unusually contrasting features, which include jagged crests and ancient marine fossils. High above even the Dolomites, and far in the distance, dark dust lanes streak out from the central plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. The stars and dust are dotted with bright red clouds of glowing hydrogen gas -- such as the Lagoon Nebula just above and to the left of center.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 July 2 - From the Galactic Plane through Antares
Explanation: Behold one of the most photogenic regions of the night sky, captured impressively. Featured, the band of our Milky Way Galaxy runs diagonally along the far left, while the colorful Rho Ophiuchus region including the bright orange star Antares is visible just right of center, and the nebula Sharpless 1 (Sh2-1) appears on the far right. Visible in front of the Milk Way band are several famous nebulas including the Eagle Nebula (M16), the Trifid Nebula (M20), and the Lagoon Nebula (M8). Other notable nebulas include the Pipe and Blue Horsehead. In general, red emanates from nebulas glowing in the light of exited hydrogen gas, while blue marks interstellar dust preferentially reflecting the light of bright young stars. Thick dust appears otherwise dark brown. Large balls of stars visible include the globular clusters M4, M9, M19, M28, and M80, each marked on the annotated companion image. This extremely wide field -- about 50 degrees across -- spans the constellations of Sagittarius is on the lower left, Serpens on the upper left, Ophiuchus across the middle, and Scorpius on the right. It took over 100 hours of sky imaging, combined with meticulous planning and digital processing, to create this image.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 March 27 - Mars Between Nebulas
Explanation: What's that bright red spot between the Lagoon and Trifid Nebulas? Mars. This gorgeous color deep-sky photograph captured the red planet passing between the two notable nebulas -- cataloged by the 18th century cosmic registrar Charles Messier as M8 and M20. M20 (upper right of center), the Trifid Nebula, presents a striking contrast in red/blue colors and dark dust lanes. Across the bottom right is the expansive, alluring red glow of M8, the Lagoon Nebula. Both nebulae are a few thousand light-years distant. By comparison, temporarily situated between them both, is the dominant "local" celestial beacon Mars. Taken last week, the red planet was only about 10 light-minutes away.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2018 January 28 - A Total Lunar Eclipse Over Tajikistan
Explanation: If the full Moon suddenly faded, what would you see? The answer during the total lunar eclipse in 2011 was recorded in a dramatic time lapse video from Tajikistan. During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth moves between the Moon and the Sun, causing the moon to fade dramatically. The Moon never gets completely dark, though, since the Earth's atmosphere refracts some light. As the featured video begins, the scene may appear to be daytime and sunlit, but actually it is a nighttime and lit by the glow of the full Moon. As the Moon becomes eclipsed and fades, the wind dies down and background stars can be seen reflected in foreground lake. Most spectacularly, the sky surrounding the eclipsed moon suddenly appears to be full of stars and highlighted by the busy plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. The sequence repeats with a closer view, and the final image shows the placement of the eclipsed Moon near the Eagle, Swan, Trifid, and Lagoon nebulas. Nearly two hours after the eclipse started, the moon emerges from the Earth's shadow and its bright full glare again dominates the sky. This Wednesday another total lunar eclipse will take place -- but this one will be during a rare Super Blue Blood Moon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 July 27 - A Sagittarius Triplet
Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula above and left of center, and colorful M20 near the bottom of the frame. The third emission region includes NGC 6559, right of M8 and separated from the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. Over a hundred light-years across the expansive M8 is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. Glowing hydrogen gas creates the dominant red color of the emission nebulae. In striking contrast, blue hues in the Trifid are due to dust reflected starlight. The colorful composite skyscape was recorded with two different telescopes to capture a widefield image of the area and individual close-ups at higher resolution.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 May 21 - In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible on the lower left, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. The tremendously bright nearby star, Hershel 36, lights the area. Vast walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 5 light years, was taken in 1995 by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5000 light years distant toward the constellation of Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2017 May 9 - Big Dipper Above and Below Chilean Volcanoes
Explanation: Do you see it? This common question frequently precedes the rediscovery of one of the most commonly recognized configurations of stars on the northern sky: the Big Dipper. This grouping of stars is one of the few things that has likely been seen, and will be seen, by every generation. The Big Dipper is not by itself a constellation. Although part of the constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major), the Big Dipper is an asterism that has been known by different names to different societies. Five of the Big Dipper stars are actually near each other in space and were likely formed at nearly the same time. Connecting two stars in the far part of the Big Dipper will lead one to Polaris, the North Star, which is part of the Little Dipper. Relative stellar motions will cause the Big Dipper to slowly change its configuration over the next 100,000 years. Pictured in late April, the Big Dipper was actually imaged twice -- above and below distant Chilean volcanoes, the later reflected from an unusually calm lagoon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 December 14 - The Lagoon Nebula in High Definition
Explanation: Stars are battling gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula but the photographers are winning. Also known as M8, this photogenic nebula is visible even without binoculars towards the constellation of Sagittarius. The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The red-glowing gas results from high-energy starlight striking interstellar hydrogen gas. The dark dust filaments that lace M8 were created in the atmospheres of cool giant stars and in the debris from supernovae explosions. The light from M8 we see today left about 5,000 years ago. Light takes about 50 years to cross this section of M8. Data used to compose this image was taken with the wide-field camera OmegaCam of the ESO's VLT Survey Telescope (VST).

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 November 30 - Milky Way over Shipwreck
Explanation: What happened to this ship? It was carried aground by a giant storm that struck the coast of Argentina in 2002. The pictured abandoned boat, dubbed Naufragio del Chubasco, wrecked near the nearly abandoned town of Cabo Raso (population: 1). The rusting ship provides a picturesque but perhaps creepy foreground for the beautiful sky above. This sky is crowned by the grand arch of our Milky Way and features galaxies including the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, stars including Canopus and Altair, planets including Mars and Neptune, and nebulas including the Lagoon, Carina, and the Coal Sack. The mosaic was composed from over 80 images taken in early September. A 360-degree interactive panoramic version of this image is also available. The adventurous astrophotographer reports that the creepiest part of taking this picture was not the abandoned ship, but the unusual prevalence of black and hairy caterpillars.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 November 10 - Great Rift Near the Center of the Milky Way
Explanation: Over 100 telescopic image panels in this stunning vertical mosaic span about 50 degrees across the night sky. They follow part of the Great Rift, the dark river of dust and molecular gas that stretches along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. Start at top center and you can follow the galactic equator down through brighter stars in constellations Aquila, Serpens Cauda, and Scutum. At the bottom is Sagittarius near the center of the Milky Way. Along the way you'll encounter many obscuring dark nebulae hundreds of light-years distant flanked by bands of Milky Way starlight, and the telltale reddish glow of starforming regions. Notable Messier objects include The Eagle (M16) and Omega (M17) nebulae, the Sagittarius Star Cloud (M24), the beautiful Trifid (M20) and the deep Lagoon (M8).

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 October 6 - Trifid, Lagoon, and Mars
Explanation: Bright nebulae and star clusters along this 5 degree wide field of view are popular stops on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. Cataloged by 18th century French astronomer Charles Messier, M20, the colorful Trifid Nebula, and M8, the expansive Lagoon Nebula, are at upper left and center. Both are well-known star forming regions about 5,000 light-years distant. Just passing through the same field of view on September 29, the yellowish star lined up with M8 and M20 at the lower right is actually Mars, close to 8.8 light-minutes from Earth on that date. That distance is nearly equivalent to 1 astronomical unit or the distance from Earth to Sun. Mars is overexposed in the image, with visible diffraction spikes created by the telescope mirror supports. Of course, Mars has long been known to wander through planet Earth's night skies.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 September 9 - The Wide and Deep Lagoon
Explanation: Ridges of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds inhabit the turbulent, cosmic depths of the Lagoon Nebula. Also known as M8, the bright star forming region is about 5,000 light-years distant. But it still makes for a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius, toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Dominated by the telltale red emission of ionized hydrogen atoms recombining with stripped electrons, this stunning, deep view of the Lagoon is nearly 100 light-years across. Right of center, the bright, compact, hourglass shape is gas ionized and sculpted by energetic radiation and extreme stellar winds from a massive young star. In fact, the many bright stars of open cluster NGC 6530 drift within the nebula, just formed in the Lagoon several million years ago.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 June 24 - Sagittarius Sunflowers
Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula left of center, and colorful M20 near the bottom of the frame The third, NGC 6559, is right of M8, separated from the larger nebula by dark dust lanes. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. In the composite image, narrowband data records ionized hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur atoms radiating at visible wavelengths. The mapping of colors and range of brightness used to compose this cosmic still life were inspired by Van Gogh's famous Sunflowers. Just right of the Trifid one of Messier's open star clusters, M21, is also included on the telescopic canvas.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2016 January 5 - The Lagoon Nebula in Hydrogen Sulfur and Oxygen
Explanation: The majestic Lagoon Nebula is filled with hot gas and the home for many young stars. Spanning 100 light years across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the Lagoon Nebula is so big and bright that it can be seen without a telescope toward the constellation of the Archer (Sagittarius). Many bright stars are visible from NGC 6530, an open cluster that formed in the nebula only several million years ago. The greater nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, is named "Lagoon" for the band of dust seen to the right of the open cluster's center. The featured image was taken in the light emitted by Hydrogen (shown in brown), Sulfur (red), and Oxygen (blue) and displayed in enhanced color. The featured picture is a newly processed panorama of M8, capturing twice the diameter of the Full Moon. Star formation continues in the Lagoon Nebula as witnessed by the many globules that exist there.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 August 10 - A Sagittarius Triplet
Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula left of center, and colorful M20 on the right. The third, NGC 6559, is above M8, separated from the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. Glowing hydrogen gas creates the dominant red color of the emission nebulae, with contrasting blue hues, most striking in the Trifid, due to dust reflected starlight. The colorful skyscape recorded with telescope and digital camera also includes one of Messier's open star clusters, M21, just above the Trifid.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 July 29 - The Deep Lagoon
Explanation: Ridges of glowing interstellar gas and dark dust clouds inhabit the turbulent, cosmic depths of the Lagoon Nebula. Also known as M8, The bright star forming region is about 5,000 light-years distant. But it still makes for a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius, toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Dominated by the telltale red emission of ionized hydrogen atoms recombining with stripped electrons, this stunning, deep view of the Lagoon's central reaches is about 40 light-years across. Near the center of the frame, the bright hourglass shape is gas ionized and sculpted by energetic radiation and extreme stellar winds from a massive young star.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 June 8 - The Milky Way over the Temple of Poseidon
Explanation: What's that glowing in the distance? Although it may look like a lighthouse, the rays of light near the horizon actually emanate from the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, Greece. Some temple lights are even reflected in the Aegean Sea in the foreground. Although meant to be a monument to the sea, in this image, the temple's lights seem to be pointing out locations on the sky. For example, the wide ray toward the right fortuitously points toward the Lagoon Nebula in the central band of our Milky Way, which runs diagonally down the image from the upper left. Also, the nearly vertical beam seems to point toward the star clouds near the direction of the Wild Duck open cluster of stars. The featured image was taken less than three weeks ago.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2015 March 10 - Aurora over Icelandic Glacier
Explanation: Several key conditions came together to create this award-winning shot. These included a dark night, few clouds, an epic auroral display, and a body of water that was both calm enough and unfrozen enough to show reflected stars. The featured skyscape of activity and serenity appeared over Iceland's Vatnajkull Glacier a year ago January, with the Jkulsrln Iceberg Lagoon captured in the foreground. Aurora filled skies continue to be common near Earth's poles as our Sun, near Solar Maximum, continues to expel energetic clouds of plasma into the Solar System.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 November 25 - The Creature from the Red Lagoon
Explanation: What creature lurks near the red Lagoon nebula? Mars. This gorgeous color deep-sky photograph has captured the red planet passing below two notable nebulae -- cataloged by the 18th century cosmic registrar Charles Messier as M8 and M20. M20 (upper right of center), the Trifid Nebula, presents a striking contrast in red/blue colors and dark dust lanes. Just below and to the left is the expansive, alluring red glow of M8, the Lagoon Nebula. Both nebulae are a few thousand light-years distant. By comparison, temporarily situated below them both, is the dominant "local" celestial beacon Mars. Taken late last month posing near its southernmost point in Earth's sky, the red planet was 14 light-minutes away.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 October 5 - A Total Lunar Eclipse Over Tajikistan
Explanation: If the full Moon suddenly faded, what would you see? The answer during the total lunar eclipse of 2011 June was recorded in a dramatic time lapse video from Tajikistan. During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth moves between the Moon and the Sun, causing the moon to fade dramatically. The Moon never gets completely dark, though, since the Earth's atmosphere refracts some light. As the above video begins, the scene may appear to be daytime and sunlit, but actually it is a nighttime and lit by the glow of the full Moon. As the moon becomes eclipsed and fades, the wind dies down and background stars can be seen reflected in foreground lake. Most spectacularly, the sky surrounding the eclipsed moon suddenly appears to be full of stars and highlighted by the busy plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. The sequence repeats with a closer view, and the final image shows the placement of the eclipsed Moon near the Eagle, Swan, Trifid, and Lagoon nebulas. Nearly two hours after the eclipse started, the moon emerged from the Earth's shadow and its bright full glare again dominated the sky. The next total lunar eclipse will occur this Wednesday.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 September 24 - The Lagoon Nebula in Stars Dust and Gas
Explanation: The large majestic Lagoon Nebula is home for many young stars and hot gas. Spanning 100 light years across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the Lagoon Nebula is so big and bright that it can be seen without a telescope toward the constellation of Sagittarius. Many bright stars are visible from NGC 6530, an open cluster that formed in the nebula only several million years ago. The greater nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, is named "Lagoon" for the band of dust seen to the left of the open cluster's center. A bright knot of gas and dust in the nebula's center is known as the Hourglass Nebula. The featured picture is a newly processed panorama of M8, capturing five times the diameter of the Moon. Star formation continues in the Lagoon Nebula as witnessed by the many globules that exist there.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 September 16 - Milky Way above Atacama Salt Lagoon
Explanation: Galaxies, stars, and a serene reflecting pool combine to create this memorable land and skyscape. The featured panorama is a 12-image mosaic taken last month from the Salar de Atacama salt flat in northern Chile. The calm water is Laguna Cejar, a salty lagoon featuring a large central sinkhole. On the image left, the astrophotographer's fiancee is seen capturing the same photogenic scene. The night sky is lit up with countless stars, the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud galaxies on the left, and the band of our Milky Way galaxy running diagonally up the right. The Milky Way may appear to be causing havoc at the horizon, but those are just the normal lights of a nearby town.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2014 August 20 - In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible near the image center, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. The tremendously bright nearby star, Herschel 36, lights the area. Walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 5 light years, combines images taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5,000 light years distant toward the constellation of Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 August 30 - A Sagittarius Triplet
Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula left of center, and colorful M20 on the right. The third, NGC 6559, is above M8, separated from the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. Glowing hydrogen gas creates the dominant red color of the emission nebulae, with contrasting blue hues, most striking in the Trifid, due to dust reflected starlight. The colorful skyscape recorded with telescope and digital camera also includes one of Messier's open star clusters, M21, just above the Trifid.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 August 17 - M8: The Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: This beautiful cosmic cloud is a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius. Eighteenth century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged the bright nebula as M8. Modern day astronomers recognize the Lagoon Nebula as an active stellar nursery about 5,000 light-years distant, in the direction of the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Hot stars in the embedded open star cluster NGC 6530 power the nebular glow. Remarkable features can be traced through this sharp picture, showing off the Lagoon's filaments of glowing gas and dark dust clouds. Twisting near the center of the Lagoon, the small, bright hourglass shape is the turbulent result of extreme stellar winds and intense starlight. The alluring color view was captured with a telescope and digital camera while M8 was high in dark, rural Argentina skies. At the nebula's estimated distance, the picture spans over 60 light-years.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2013 July 12 - Messier's Eleven
Explanation: This fifteen degree wide field of view stretches across the crowded starfields of Sagittarius toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, the center of the galaxy lies near the right edge of the rich starscape and eleven bright star clusters and nebulae fall near the center of the frame. All eleven are numbered entries in the catalog compiled by 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier. Gaining celebrity status with skygazers, M8 (Lagoon), M16 (Eagle), M17 (Omega), and M20 (Trifid) show off the telltale reddish hues of emission nebulae associated with star forming regions. But also eye-catching in small telescopes are star clusters in the crowded region; M18, M21, M22, M23, M25, and M28. Broader in extent than the star clusters themselves, M24 is actually a cloud of the Milky Way's stars thousands of light-years long, seen through a break in the galaxy's veil of obscuring dust. You can put your cursor over the image (or click here) for help identifying Messier's eleven.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 October 12 - Pan-STARRS and Nebulae
Explanation: A single field from the world's most powerful survey instrument captures this spectacular skyview. Looking toward Sagittarius, the scene spans nearly 3 degrees or six times the width of the Full Moon. At bottom, upper right, and lower left it covers the Lagoon Nebula (M8), the Trifid Nebula (M20), and NGC 6559, in the crowded, dusty starfields of the central Milky Way. The adopted color scheme shows dust reddened starlight in red hues and normally red emission from hydrogen atoms in green. Built and operated by the Pan-STARRS project, the instrument features a 1.4 gigapixel (billion pixel) digital camera and telescope. Pan-STARRS, the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System, is intended to scan the skies for potentially dangerous near-earth asteroids and comets, exploring the Universe with a unique high resolution, wide field view.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 June 27 - Simeis 188 in Stars, Dust and Gas
Explanation: When stars form, pandemonium reigns. A particularly colorful case is the star forming region Simeis 188 which houses an unusual and bright cloud arc cataloged as NGC 6559. Visible above are red glowing emission nebulas of hydrogen, blue reflection nebulas of dust, dark absorption nebulas of dust, and the stars that formed from them. The first massive stars formed from the dense gas will emit energetic light and winds that erode, fragment, and sculpt their birthplace. And then they explode. The resulting morass can be as beautiful as it is complex. After tens of millions of years, the dust boils away, the gas gets swept away, and all that is left is a naked open cluster of stars. Simeis 188 is located about 4,000 light years away and can be found about one degree northeast of M8, the Lagoon Nebula.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 June 1 - A Sagittarius Triplet
Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the large nebula left of center, and colorful M20 on the right. The third, NGC 6559, is above M8, separated from the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. Glowing hydrogen gas creates the dominant red color of the emission nebulae, with contrasting blue hues, most striking in the Trifid, due to dust reflected starlight. This broad skyscape also includes one of Messier's open star clusters, M21, just above and right of the Trifid.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2012 January 6 - A Wide Field Image of the Galactic Center
Explanation: From Sagittarius to Scorpius, the central Milky Way is a truly beautiful part of planet Earth's night sky. The gorgeous region is captured in this wide field image spanning about 30 degrees. The impressive cosmic vista, taken in 2010, shows off intricate dust lanes, bright nebulae, and star clusters scattered through our galaxy's rich central starfields. Starting on the left, look for the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae, the Cat's Paw, while on the right lies the Pipe dark nebula, and the colorful clouds of Rho Ophiuchi and Antares (right). The actual center of our Galaxy lies about 26,000 light years away and can be found here.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 July 11 - A Total Lunar Eclipse Over Tajikistan
Explanation: If the full Moon suddenly faded, what would you see? The answer during the total lunar eclipse last month was recorded in a dramatic time lapse video from Tajikistan. During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth moves between the Moon and the Sun, causing the moon to fade dramatically. The Moon never gets completely dark, though, since the Earth's atmosphere refracts some light. As the above video begins, the scene may appear to be daytime and sunlit, but actually it is a nighttime and lit by the glow of the full Moon. As the moon becomes eclipsed and fades, the wind dies down and background stars can be seen reflected in foreground lake. Most spectacularly, the sky surrounding the eclipsed moon suddenly appears to be full of stars and highlighted by the busy plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. The sequence repeats with a closer view, and the final image shows the placement of the eclipsed Moon near the Eagle, Swan, Trifid, and Lagoon nebulas. Nearly two hours after the eclipse started, the moon emerges from the Earth's shadow and its bright full glare again dominates the sky.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 June 17 - Eclipsed Moon in the Milky Way
Explanation: On June 15, the totally eclipsed Moon was very dark, with the Moon itself positioned on the sky toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. This simple panorama captures totality from northern Iran in 8 consecutive exposures each 40 seconds long. In the evocative scene, the dark of the eclipsed Moon competes with the Milky Way's faint glow. The tantalizing red lunar disk lies just above the bowl of the dark Pipe Nebula, to the right of the glowing Lagoon and Trifid nebulae and the central Milky Way dust clouds. At the far right, the wide field is anchored by yellow Antares and the colorful clouds of Rho Ophiuchi. To identify other sights of the central Milky Way just slide your cursor over the image. The total phase of this first lunar eclipse of 2011 lasted an impressive 100 minutes. Parts of the eclipse were visible from most of planet Earth, with notable exceptions of North and Central America.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 May 27 - Messier Marathon
Explanation: In this action scene, red night vision lights, green laser pointers, tripods and telescopes in faint silhouette surround intrepid sky gazers embarked on the 10th annual Iran Messier Marathon. Completing the marathon requires viewing all 110 objects in 18th century French astronomer Charles Messier's catalog in one glorious dusk-to-dawn observing run. As daunting as it sounds, there are often favorable weekend dates for northern hemisphere marathoners to complete the task that fall on nearly moonless nights near the spring equinox. With the Milky Way as a backdrop, this group of about 150 astronomy enthusiasts conducted their 2011 marathon on such a night in April from the desert area of Seh Qaleh, in eastern Iran. Placing your cursor over the image will map the stunning night sky above their remote and very dark observing site. Follow the green laser pointer toward the Messier catalog objects (for example, M8) near the galactic center. Astronomer and former Messier Marathon organizer Babak Tafreshi also composed Sky Gazers, a time-lapse movie of this year's event.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2011 May 11 - The Southern Cliff in the Lagoon
Explanation: Undulating bright ridges and dusty clouds cross this close-up of the nearby star forming region M8, also known as the Lagoon Nebula. A sharp, false-color composite of narrow band visible and broad band near-infrared data from the 8-meter Gemini South Telescope, the entire view spans about 20 light-years through a region of the nebula sometimes called the Southern Cliff. The highly detailed image explores the association of many newborn stars imbedded in the tips of the bright-rimmed clouds and Herbig-Haro objects. Abundant in star-forming regions, Herbig-Haro objects are produced as powerful jets emitted by young stars in the process of formation heat the surrounding clouds of gas and dust. The cosmic Lagoon is found some 5,000 light-years away toward constellation Sagittarius and the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. (Editor's Note: For location and scale, check out this image superimposing the close-up region shown in today's APOD on the larger Lagoon Nebula. Scale image is courtesy R. Barbá.)

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 October 2 - Hubble s Lagoon
Explanation: Like brush strokes on a canvas, ridges of color seem to flow across this scene. But here, the canvas is nearly 3 light-years wide and the colors map emission from ionized gas in the Lagoon Nebula, recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Also known as M8, the nebula is a star forming region about 5,000 light-years distant in the constellation Sagittarius. Hubble's remarkably sharp, close-up view reveals undulating shapes sculpted by the energetic light and winds from the region's new born stars. Of course, the Lagoon nebula is a popular target for earthbound skygazers, too. It features a prominent dust lane and bright hourglass shape in small telescopes with wider fields of view.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 August 31 - The Annotated Galactic Center
Explanation: The sky toward the center of our Galaxy is filled with a wide variety of celestial wonders, many of which are visible from a dark location with common binoculars. Constellations near the Galactic Center include Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpius, Scutum, and Ophiuchus. Nebulas include Messier objects M8, M16, M20, as well as the Pipe and Cat's Paw nebulas. Visible open star clusters include M6, M7, M21, M23, M24, and M25, while globular star cluster M22 is also visible. A hole in the dust toward the Galactic Center reveals a bright region filled with distant stars known as Baade's Window, which is visible between M7 and M8. Moving your cursor over the above image the will bring up an un-annotated version.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 August 5 - M8: The Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: This beautiful cosmic cloud is a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius. Eighteenth century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged the bright nebula as M8. Modern day astronomers recognize the Lagoon Nebula as an active stellar nursery about 5,000 light-years distant, in the direction of the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Remarkable features can be traced through this sharp picture, showing off the Lagoon's filaments of glowing gas and dark dust clouds. Twisting near the center of the Lagoon, the bright hourglass shape is the turbulent result of extreme stellar winds and intense starlight. The alluring view is a color composite of both broad and narrow band images captured while M8 was high in dark, Chilean skies. It records the Lagoon with a bluer hue than typically represented in images dominated by the red light of the region's hydrogen emission. At the nebula's estimated distance, the picture spans about 30 light-years.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 July 19 - Dark River Wide Field
Explanation: A Dark River of dust seems to run from our Galactic Center, then pool into a starfield containing photogenic sky wonders. Scrolling right will reveal many of these objects including (can you find?) the bright orange star Antares, a blue(-eyed) horsehead nebula, the white globular star cluster M4, the bright blue star system Rho Ophiuchi, the dark brown Pipe nebula, the red Lagoon nebula, the red and blue Trifid nebula, the red Cat's Paw Nebula, and the multicolored but still important center of our Galaxy. This wide view captures in exquisite detail about 50 degrees of the nighttime sky, 100 times the size of the full Moon, covering constellations from the Archer (Sagittarius) through the Snake Holder (Ophiuchus), to the Scorpion (Scorpius). The Dark River itself can be identified as the brown dust lane connected to Antares, and spans about 100 light years. Since the Dark River dust lane lies only about 500 light years away, it only appears as a bridge to the much more distant Galactic Center, that actually lies about 25,000 light years farther away.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2010 July 5 - The Milky Way Over Pulpit Rock
Explanation: Can a picture of the sky be relaxing? A candidate for such a picture might be this image taken only last month from Cape Schank, Victoria, Australia. The frame is highlighted by a dreamlike lagoon, two galaxies, and tens of thousands of stars. The rock cropping on the left may appear from this angle like a human head, but the more famous rock structure is on the far right and known as Pulpit Rock. Across the top of the image runs a distant stream of bright stars and dark dust that is part of the disk of our spiral Milky Way Galaxy. On the right, just above Pulpit Rock, is the Milky Way's small neighboring galaxy the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). The bright white object just to the left of the SMC is a globular cluster of stars in the Milky Way known as 47 Tucana.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 October 6 - The Lagoon Nebula from GigaGalaxy Zoom
Explanation: The large majestic Lagoon Nebula is home for many young stars and hot gas. Spanning 100 light years across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the Lagoon Nebulae is so big and bright that it can be seen without a telescope toward the constellation of Sagittarius. Many bright stars are visible from NGC 6530, an open cluster that formed in the nebula only several million years ago. The greater nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, is named "Lagoon" for the band of dust seen to the left of the open cluster's center. A bright knot of gas and dust in the nebula's center is known as the Hourglass Nebula. The above picture is a newly released, digitally stitched panorama of M8 taken as part of the GigaGalaxy Zoom project by the Wide Field Imager attached to the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter Telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile. The vista spans three times the diameter of the Moon, while the highest resolution image version occupies over 350 million pixels. Star formation continues in the Lagoon Nebula as witnessed by the many globules that exist there.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 September 25 - Gigagalaxy Zoom: Galactic Center
Explanation: From Sagittarius to Scorpius, the central Milky Way is a truly beautiful part of planet Earth's night sky. The gorgeous region is captured here, an expansive gigapixel mosaic of 52 fields spanning 34 by 20 degrees in 1200 individual images and 200 hours of exposure time. Part of ESO's Gigagalaxy Zoom Project, the images were collected over 29 nights with a small telescope under the exceptionally clear, dark skies of the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile. The breathtaking cosmic vista shows off intricate dust lanes, bright nebulae, and star clusters scattered through our galaxy's rich central starfields. Starting on the left, look for the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae, the Cat's Paw, the Pipe dark nebula, and the colorful clouds of Rho Ophiuchi and Antares (right).

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 July 29 - The Milky Way Over Devils Tower
Explanation: Was Devils Tower once an explosive volcano? Famous for its appearance in films such as Close Encounters, the origin of Devil's Tower in Wyoming, USA is still debated, with a leading hypothesis holding that it is a hardened lava plume that probably never reached the surface to become a volcano. The lighter rock that once surrounded the dense volcanic neck has now eroded away, leaving the dramatic tower. High above, the central band of the Milky Way galaxy arches across the sky. Many notable sky objects are visible, including dark strands of the Pipe Nebula and the reddish Lagoon Nebula to the tower's right. Green grass and trees line the moonlit foreground, while clouds appear near the horizon to the tower's left. Unlike many other international landmarks, mountaineers are permitted to climb Devils Tower.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 July 22 - The Lagoon Nebula in Gas, Dust, and Stars
Explanation: Stars are battling gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula but the photographers are winning. Also known as M8, this photogenic nebula is visible even without binoculars towards the constellation of Sagittarius. The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The red-glowing gas, shown on the above left in re-assigned colors, results from high-energy starlight striking interstellar hydrogen gas. The Trifid nebula is visible on the far right. The dark dust filaments that lace M8 were created in the atmospheres of cool giant stars and in the debris from supernovae explosions. The light from M8 we see today left about 5,000 years ago. Light takes about 50 years to cross this section of M8.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2009 May 19 - Sagittarius and the Central Milky Way
Explanation: What does the center of our Milky Way Galaxy look like? In visible light, no one knows! It is not possible to see the Galactic center in light our eyes are sensitive to because the thick dust in the plane of our Galaxy obscures it. If one looks in the direction of our Galaxy's center - which is toward the constellation of Sagittarius - many beautiful wonders become apparent, though. Large dust lanes and star clouds dominate the picture. As many as 30 Messier Objects are visible in the above spectacular image mosaic, including all types of nebulas and star clusters. Two notable nebula include the Lagoon Nebula (M8), a red patch just above and to the right of center, and slightly to its right is the red and blue Trifid Nebula (M20).

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 October 19 - In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is a whirlwind of spectacular star formation. Visible on the upper left, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. The tremendously bright nearby star, Hershel 36, lights the area. Vast walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 5 light years, was taken in 1995 by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5000 light years distant toward the constellation of Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2008 July 15 - Gas and Dust of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: This beautiful cosmic cloud is a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius. Eighteenth century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged the bright nebula as M8, while modern day astronomers recognize the Lagoon Nebula as an active stellar nursery about 5,000 light-years distant, in the direction of the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Striking details can be traced through this remarkable picture, processed to remove stars and hence better reveal the Lagoon's range of filaments of glowing hydrogen gas, dark dust clouds, and the bright, turbulent hourglass region near the image center. This color composite view was recorded under dark skies near Sydney, Australia. At the Lagoon's estimated distance, the picture spans about 50 light-years.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 November 2 - Three Nebulae in Narrow Band
Explanation: Narrow band filters and a false-color palette give these three nebulae a stunning appearance against the cosmic canvas of the central Milky Way. All three are stellar nurseries about 5,000 light-years or so distant, toward the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. In the 18th century, astronomer Charles Messier cataloged two of them; colorful M8, above and right of center, and compact M20 at the left. The third, NGC 6559, is at bottom right. Over a hundred light-years across, M8 is also known as the Lagoon Nebula. Divided by obscuring dust lanes, M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. In the composite image, narrow emission lines from sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms recorded through the filters, are mapped into broader red, green, and blue colors respectively. The color scheme was made popular in Hubble Space Telescope images. But for ground-based telescopes, narrow band filters also make it possible to reject overwhelming light-pollution and capture compelling images of the cosmos from urban skies.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 August 4 - Sagittarius Triplet
Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the nebula below and right of center, and colorful M20 at the upper right. The third, NGC 6559, is left of M8, separated from the the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula while M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. This stunning digital view is actually a collaborative composite recorded by 2 cameras and 2 telescopes about 2 thousand miles apart. The deep, wide image field was captured under dark Arizona skies. Both M8 and M20 were recorded in more detail from an observatory in Pennsylvania. Glowing hydrogen gas creates the dominant red color of the emission nebulae, with contrasting blue hues, most striking in the Trifid, due to dust reflected starlight.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2007 July 16 - The Lagoon Nebula in Gas, Dust, and Stars
Explanation: Stars are battling gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula but the photographers are winning. Also known as M8, this photogenic nebula is visible even without binoculars towards the constellation of Sagittarius. The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The red-glowing gas results from high-energy starlight striking interstellar hydrogen gas. The dark dust filaments that lace M8 were created in the atmospheres of cool giant stars and in the debris from supernovae explosions. The light from M8 we see today left about 5,000 years ago. Light takes about 50 years to cross this section of M8.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 August 25 - Blue Lagoon
Explanation: Stars come and go as you slide your cursor over this engaging image of M8, aka the Lagoon Nebula. Of course, the nebula is itself a star-forming region, but the stars that appear and disappear here include background and foreground stars that by chance lie along the same line of sight. In this "for fun" comparison of two nearly identical digital images, the stellar point sources were removed from one image by computer processing to leave only the diffuse emission from the glowing gas clouds. In both pictures, red emission (H-alpha emission) from atomic hydrogen dominates the cosmic lagoon's visible light, but narrow band filters were used to record the image data and map the hydrogen emission to green hues, with emission from sulfur atoms in red and oxygen in blue. The lovely Lagoon Nebula spans about 30 light-years at an estimated distance of 5,000 light-years toward the constellation Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 June 14 - Sagittarius Triplet
Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the crowded starfields of the central Milky Way. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the nebula below and right of center, and colorful M20 at the upper right. The third, NGC 6559, is left of M8, separated from the the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula while M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. This stunning digital view is actually a collaborative composite recorded by 2 cameras and 2 telescopes about 2 thousand miles apart. The deep, wide image field was captured under dark Arizona skies. Both M8 and M20 were recorded in more detail from an observatory in Pennsylvania. Glowing hydrogen gas creates the dominant red color of the emission nebulae, with contrasting blue hues, most striking in the Trifid, due to dust reflected starlight.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2006 February 10 - M8: The Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: This beautiful cosmic cloud is a popular stop on telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius. Eighteenth century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged the bright nebula as M8, while modern day astronomers recognize the Lagoon Nebula as an active stellar nursery about 5,000 light-years distant, in the direction of the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Striking details can be traced through this remarkable picture, processed to reveal the Lagoon's range of filaments of glowing hydrogen gas and dark dust clouds along with the brighter, turbulent hourglass region at the upper right. The view is a color composite of narrow and broad band images recorded under dark skies in northwestern Arizona. At the Lagoon's estimated distance, the picture spans about 30 light-years.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 August 3 - The Busy Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: Stars are battling gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula but the photographers are winning. Also known as M8, this photogenic nebula is visible even without binoculars towards the constellation of Sagittarius. The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The red-glowing gas results from high-energy starlight striking interstellar hydrogen gas. The dark dust filaments that lace M8 were created in the atmospheres of cool giant stars and in the debris from supernovae explosions. This spectacular portion of the Lagoon Nebula was created in scientifically-assigned colors from light emitted in very specific colors by hydrogen, silicon, and oxygen. The light from M8 we see today left about 5000 years ago. Light takes about 50 years to cross this section of M8.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2005 May 24 - Swirls and Stars in IC 4678
Explanation: Swirls of gas and dust enrich this little observed starfield toward the constellation of Sagittarius. Just to the side of the more often photographed Lagoon Nebula (M8) and the Trifid Nebula (M20) lies this busy patch of sky dubbed IC 4678. Prominent in the above image are large emission nebulas of red glowing gas highlighted by unusually bright red filaments. On the left, a band of thin dust preferentially reflects the blue light of a bright star creating a small reflection nebula. On the right and across the bottom, swaths of thicker dust appear as dark absorption nebulas, blocking the light from stars farther in the distance. IC 4678 spans about 25 light years and lies about 5,000 light years distant.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 September 9 - Sagittarius Triplet
Explanation: These three bright nebulae are often featured in telescopic tours of the constellation Sagittarius and the view toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier cataloged two of them; M8, the nebula above and left of center, and colorful M20 at the lower left. The third, NGC 6559, is at the right of M8, separated from the the larger nebula by a dark dust lane. All three are stellar nurseries about five thousand light-years or so distant. The expansive M8, over a hundred light-years across, is also known as the Lagoon Nebula while M20's popular moniker is the Trifid. In this gorgeous digital composition, the dominant red color of the emission nebulae is due to glowing hydrogen gas energized by the radiation of hot, young stars. The contrasting blue hues, most striking in the Trifid as well as NGC 6559, are due to dust reflected starlight.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2004 August 16 - Close Up of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: Stars are battling gas and dust in the Lagoon Nebula but the photographers are winning. Also known as M8, this photogenic nebula is visible even without binoculars towards the constellation of Sagittarius. The energetic processes of star formation create not only the colors but the chaos. The red-glowing gas results from high-energy starlight striking interstellar hydrogen gas. The dark dust filaments that lace M8 were created in the atmospheres of cool giant stars and in the debris from supernovae explosions. This spectacular portion of the Lagoon Nebula taken by the CFHT was created from light emitted by hydrogen (shown in red) and light emitted by oxygen (shown in green). The light from M8 we see today left about 5000 years ago. Light takes about 50 years to cross this section of M8.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 September 8 - Stars and Dust of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: The large majestic Lagoon Nebula is home for many young stars and hot gas. Spanning 100 light years across while lying only about 5000 light years distant, the Lagoon Nebulae is so big and bright that it can be seen without a telescope toward the constellation of Sagittarius. Many bright stars are visible from NGC 6530, an open cluster that formed in the nebula only several million years ago. The greater nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, is named "Lagoon" for the band of dust seen to the left of the open cluster's center. A bright knot of gas and dust in the nebula's center is known as the Hourglass Nebula. The above picture is a digitally sharpened composite of exposures taken in specific colors of light emitted by sulfur (red), hydrogen (green), and oxygen (blue). Star formation continues in the Lagoon Nebula as witnessed by the many globules that exist there.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 June 28 - Messiers and Mars
Explanation: A telescopic tour of the constellation Sagittarius offers the many bright clusters and nebulae of dimensioned space in a starscape surrounding the galactic center. This gorgeous color deep-sky photograph visits two such lovely sights, cataloged by the 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier as M8 and M20. M20 (upper left), the Trifid Nebula, presents a striking contrast in red/blue colors and dark dust lanes. Just below and to the right is the expansive, alluring red glow of M8, the Lagoon Nebula. Both nebulae are a few thousand light-years distant but at the far right, the dominant celestial beacon is a "local" source, the planet Mars. Just passing through Sagittarius and strongly overexposed in this picture, the Red Planet was a short 4 light-minutes away. Now headed for its closest approach to planet Earth in recorded history, Mars rises in the east southeast by midnight shining brightly at about -1.4 magnitude. Urban imager Michael Cole recorded this photograph at 3:00 AM on May 20th, 2001 in clear skies over Camp Hancock, Oregon, USA.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2003 March 4 - In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: The center of the Lagoon Nebula is busy with the awesome spectacle of star formation. Visible in the lower left, at least two long funnel-shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have been formed by extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight. The tremendously bright nearby star, Hershel 36, lights the area. Vast walls of dust hide and redden other hot young stars. As energy from these stars pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds which may cause the funnels. This picture, spanning about 5 light years, was taken in 1995 by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8, lies about 5000 light years distant toward the constellation of Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 October 6 - The Lagoon Nebula in Three Colors
Explanation: The bright Lagoon Nebula is home to a diverse array of astronomical objects. Particularly interesting sources include a bright open cluster of stars and several energetic star-forming regions. When viewed by eye, cluster light is dominated by an overall red glow that is caused by luminous hydrogen gas, while the dark filaments are caused by absorption by dense lanes of dust. The above picture, from the Curtis-Schmidt Telescope, however, shows the nebula's emission in three exact colors specifically emitted by hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, lies about 5000 light-years away. The Lagoon Nebula can be located with binoculars in the constellation of Sagittarius spanning a region over three times the diameter of a full Moon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2002 May 20 - East of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: To the east of the Lagoon Nebula is a star field rich in diversity. On the lower left are clouds rich in dark dust that hide background stars and young star systems still forming. Dark clouds include LDN 227 on the left and IC 1275 on the right, with a bright star near its tip. On the upper right are clouds rich in hot glowing gas, including part of the emission nebula NGC 6559. On the right, between the two regions, is a nebula reflecting light from a group of massive blue stars. The NGC 6559 complex pictured above spans about 3 light years and likely has a common history with the Lagoon Nebula. The complex lies about 5000 light-years away toward the constellation of Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 December 29 - The Annotated Galactic Center
Explanation: The sky toward the center of our Galaxy is filled with a wide variety of celestial wonders. Many are easily visible with binoculars. Constellations near the galactic center include Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpius, Scutum, and Ophiuchus. Nebulae include Messier Objects M8, M16, M17, M20 and the Pipe Nebula. Open star clusters include M6, M7, M18, M21, M23, M24, M25. Globular star clusters include M9, M22, M28, M54, M69, M70. And don't forget Baade's Window. Click on the photo to get the un-annotated version.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 August 20 - The Lagoon Nebula in Three Colors
Explanation: The bright Lagoon Nebula is home to a diverse array of astronomical objects. Particularly interesting sources include a bright open cluster of stars and several energetic star-forming regions. When viewed by eye, cluster light is dominated by an overall red glow that is caused by luminous hydrogen gas, while the dark filaments are caused by absorption by dense lanes of dust. The above picture, from the Curtis-Schmidt Telescope, however, shows the nebula's emission in three exact colors specifically emitted by hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, lies about 5000 light-years away. The Lagoon Nebula can be located with binoculars in the constellation of Sagittarius spanning a region over three times the diameter of a full Moon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 June 15 - Messiers and Mars
Explanation: A telescopic tour of the constellation Sagittarius offers the many bright clusters and nebulae of dimensioned space in a starscape surrounding the galactic center. This gorgeous color deep-sky photograph visits two such lovely sights, cataloged by the 18th century cosmic tourist Charles Messier as M8 and M20. M20 (upper left), the Trifid Nebula, presents a striking contrast in red/blue colors and dark dust lanes. Just below and to the right is the expansive, alluring red glow of M8, the Lagoon Nebula. Both nebulae are a few thousand light-years distant but at the far right, the dominant celestial beacon is a "local" source, the planet Mars. Just passing through Sagittarius and strongly overexposed in this picture, the Red Planet is a short 4 light-minutes away. Now near its closest approach to planet Earth since 1988, Mars rises around sunset and can be seen for most of the night shining brightly at about -2.3 magnitude. Urban imager Michael Cole recorded this photograph at 3:00 AM on May 20th in clear skies over Camp Hancock, Oregon, USA.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 April 15 - Diffraction Spikes: When Stars Look Like Crosses
Explanation: Unusual appendages around bright stars are commonplace, but never seem to be mentioned. What are they? First, a telescope brings starlight falling over a large area to a small area. To get at this small area, however, one must go inside a reflecting telescope, and one good way to do this is to use support rods, which are right in the view of the telescope. The wave nature of light causes it to deflect when passing near these rods. Light scatters away from the original destination point ending up elsewhere and appearing as "diffraction spikes." These annoying spikes steal precious light from the central image and hide light from fainter, more interesting stars. Above, astronomers are more interested in the half-circled point near the image center, than the cool-looking diffraction spikes from the bright star at the bottom. Apparently, that half-circle is a new stellar system forming in the Lagoon Nebula.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: 2001 January 3 - M8: In the Center of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: In the center of the Lagoon Nebula one finds glowing gas, star clusters, and dense knots of gas and dust just now forming stars. The young open cluster of stars, designated NGC 6523, can be seen in the center of the above image. These stars emit energetic light that ionizes the surrounding hydrogen gas. As this gas reacquires electrons, it emits red light. The Lagoon Nebula lies about 5000 light-years away and spans about 100 light-years across. The nebula occupies an area on the sky larger than a full moon, and can be seen even without binoculars from a dark location towards the constellation of Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: September 25, 1999 - Twistin By The Lagoon
Explanation: The awesome spectacle of starbirth produces extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight -- bombarding dusty molecular clouds inside the Lagoon Nebula (M8). At least two long funnel shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have apparently been formed by this activity. They extend from the upper left of this close-up of the bright area of the Lagoon known as 'the Hour Glass'. Are these interstellar funnel clouds actually swirling, twisting analogs to Earthly tornados? It's possible. As energy from nearby young hot stars, like the one at lower right, pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds. This picture is a reprocessed HST image made in 1995 as researchers explored this nearby (5,000 light-year distant) star forming region which lies in the direction of Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: September 11, 1999 - The Annotated Galactic Center
Explanation: The sky toward the center of our Galaxy is filled with a wide variety of celestial wonders. Many are easily visible with binoculars. Constellations near the galactic center include Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpius, Scutum, and Ophiuchus. Nebulae include Messier Objects M8, M16, M17, M20 and the Pipe Nebula. Open star clusters include M6, M7, M18, M21, M23, M24, M25. Globular star clusters include M9, M22, M28, M54, M69, M70. And don't forget Baade's Window. Click on the photo to get the un-annotated version.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: September 7, 1998 - The Sky Towards Sagittarius
Explanation: A variety of stars and nebulae can be found towards the constellation of Sagittarius. Dense fields of stars laced with dark lanes of dust crowd this region only a few degrees from the center of our Galaxy. Prominent nebulae include the red Lagoon Nebula (M8) in the lower right and the multicolored Trifid Nebula (M20) in the upper right. Recent high-resolution images of these nebulae show unusual features such as funnel-shaped clouds and proplyds that are not well understood.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: August 22, 1998 - Twistin by the Lagoon
Explanation: The awesome spectacle of starbirth produces extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight -- bombarding dusty molecular clouds inside the Lagoon Nebula (M8). At least two long funnel shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have apparently been formed by this activity. They extend from the upper left of this close-up of the bright area of the Lagoon known as 'the Hour Glass'. Are these interstellar funnel clouds actually swirling, twisting analogs to Earthly tornados? It's possible. As energy from nearby young hot stars, like the one at lower right, pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds. This picture is a reprocessed HST image made in 1995 as researchers explored this nearby (5,000 light-year distant) starforming region which lies in the direction of Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: July 7, 1998 - M8: The Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: The bright Lagoon Nebula is home to a diverse array of astronomical objects. Particularly interesting sources include a bright open cluster of stars and several energetic star-forming regions. The general red glow is caused by luminous hydrogen gas, while the dark filaments are caused by absorption by dense lanes of dust. The Lagoon Nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, lies about 5000 light-years away. The Lagoon Nebula can be located with binoculars in the constellation of Sagittarius spanning a region over three times the diameter of a full Moon.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: November 19, 1997 - Diffraction Spikes: When Stars Look Like Crosses
Explanation: Unusual appendages around bright stars are commonplace, but never seem to be mentioned. What are they? First, a telescope brings starlight falling over a large area to a small area. To get at this small area, however, one must go inside a reflecting telescope, and this can only be done with support rods, which are right in the view of the telescope. The wave nature of light causes it to deflect when passing near these rods. Light scatters away from the original destination point ending up elsewhere and appearing as "diffraction spikes." These annoying spikes steal precious light from the central image and hide light from fainter, more interesting stars. Above, astronomers are more interested in the half-circled point near the image center, than the cool-looking diffraction spikes from the bright star at the bottom. Apparently, that half-circle is a new stellar system forming in the Lagoon Nebula.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: November 11, 1997 - The Annotated Galactic Center
Explanation: The sky toward the center of our Galaxy is filled with a wide variety of celestial wonders. Most are visible with only binoculars. Constellations of nearby stars include Sagittarius, Libra, Scorpius, Scutum, and Ophiuchus. Nebulae include Messier Objects M8, M16, M17, M20 and the Pipe Nebula. Open clusters include M6, M7, M18, M21, M23, M24, M25. Globular clusters include M9, M22, M28, M54, M69, M70. And don't forget Baade's Window. Click on the photo to get the un-annotated version.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: January 23, 1997 - Twistin' by the Lagoon
Explanation: The awesome spectacle of starbirth produces extreme stellar winds and intense energetic starlight -- bombarding dusty molecular clouds inside the Lagoon Nebula (M8). At least two long funnel shaped clouds, each roughly half a light-year long, have apparently been formed by this activity. They extend from the upper left of this close-up of the bright area of the Lagoon known as 'the Hour Glass'. Are these interstellar funnel clouds actually swirling, twisting analogs to Earthly tornados? It's possible. As energy from nearby young hot stars, like the one at lower right, pours into the cool dust and gas, large temperature differences in adjoining regions can be created generating shearing winds. Confirmation of tornado-like motions within the Lagoon's stellar nursery could come from new instruments scheduled to be installed on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) during February's servicing mission. This picture is a recently reprocessed HST image made in 1995 as researchers explored this nearby (5,000 light-year distant) starforming region which lies in the direction of Sagittarius.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: October 24, 1996 - Starbirth in the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: Stars are forming even today in the Lagoon Nebula. This bright nebula is visible in the constellation of Sagittarius with binoculars. The above photo is the result of a new sensitive camera being attached to one of the world's largest telescopes. Curtains of collapsing hydrogen are shown above in green, highlighted by a special filter that isolates light from this specific atom. Many young stars are evident in the open cluster M8 in the Lagoon, the result of previously collapsed gas clouds. Many of the stars appear red because of the high amount of dust in the Lagoon Nebula. Red light penetrates dust clouds best, although enough dust will block all visible light and leave a dark nebula.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: August 21, 1996 - A Close-Up of the Lagoon's Hourglass
Explanation: In the central part of the Lagoon Nebula lies the above pictured Hourglass Nebula. In this region of recent star formation, obscuring dark lanes of dust permeate the red-glowing hydrogen gas. Blocking some of the gas cloud from our view, they chance to create a glowing shape that appears from our vantage point like an hourglass. In the upper right of this picture from the Hubble Space Telescope is a bright young blue star from the open cluster NGC 6530 - visible below center in yesterday's APOD. A recent study of the Lagoon Nebula (M8), has shown that this emission nebula houses large magnetic fields and unusually large dust particles.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: August 20, 1996 - A Close-Up of the Lagoon Nebula
Explanation: Ribbons of red-glowing gas and dark dust surround massive young stars in this close-up of the Lagoon Nebula taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The Lagoon Nebula is relatively close and bright - it appears larger than the Full Moon and is visible even without a telescope. Light takes about 5000 years to reach here from there. The Lagoon Nebula houses the open star cluster M8. This photograph is combination of exposures taken in the red, green and ultraviolet. The unusual bright central part of the Lagoon Nebula (lower left in this image) is known as the Hourglass Nebula.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: July 23, 1996 - Hale-Bopp, Jupiter, and the Milky Way
Explanation: Shining brightly, the mighty Jupiter rules this gorgeous Kodacolor photo of the Milky Way near Sagittarius. Astronomer Bill Keel took the picture earlier this month (July 7) while standing near the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea contemplating the sky in the direction of the center of the Galaxy (right of picture center). In addition to the gas giant planet, which is well placed for evening viewing, the image contains an impressive sampler of celestial goodies. Many famous emission nebulae are visible as reddish patches - M16, the Eagle nebula, is just above and right of center, with the Horseshoe nebula, M17, just below it and farther to the right. Also, look for the Lagoon Nebula, M8, as the brightest red patch at the right of the picture with the Trifid Nebula, M20, just above it and to the left. The milky glow of distant unresolved stars in the plane of our Galaxy (thus the term Milky Way) runs through the image cut by dark, absorbing, interstellar dust clouds. The much anticipated comet Hale-Bopp is also clearly visible. Where's the comet? Click on the picture to view the comet's location flanked by superposed vertical lines. The comet was discovered while still beyond the orbit of Jupiter a year ago today independently by Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp. Astronomers monitoring Hale-Bopp's activity report that having now brightened to almost 6th magnitude it is still on track for becoming an extremely bright naked-eye comet in early 1997.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: June 5, 1996 - Sagittarius and the Central Milky Way
Explanation: What does the center of our Milky Way Galaxy look like? No one knows! It is not possible to see the Galactic center in light our eyes are sensitive to because the thick dust in the plane of our Galaxy obscures it. If one looks in the direction of our Galaxy's center - which is toward the constellation of Sagittarius - many beautiful wonders become apparent, though. The center of the Milky Way is behind the center of the photo. Large dust lanes and star clouds dominate the picture. As many as 30 Messier Objects are visible, including all types of nebula and star clusters. Two notable nebula include the Lagoon Nebula (M8), a small red patch just above center, and slightly above this is the red and blue Trifid Nebula (M20). The lines through picture were caused by airplanes, and the dark objects in the foreground are trees.

Thumbnail image of picture found for this day. APOD: January 27, 1996 - Open Cluster M8 in the Lagoon
Explanation: The large majestic Lagoon Nebula is home for many young stars and hot gas. The Lagoon Nebulae is so large and bright it can be seen without a telescope. Formed only several million years ago in the nebula is the open cluster known as NGC 6530, whose young stars show their high temperature by their blue glow. The nebula, also known as M8 and NGC 6523, is named "Lagoon" for the band of dust seen to the left of the open cluster's center. A bright knot of gas and dust in the nebula's center is known as the Hourglass Nebula. Star formation continues in the the Lagoon Nebula as witnessed by the many globules that exist there.


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