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Utah Skies: Eagle Nebula

The Eagle Nebula and Pillars of Creation.
Dell Vance

The summer evening skies provides a great view of the Milky Way. Looking towards the south you can easily find the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpio (the Scorpion). Moving towards the East about 25 degrees you come to the Teapot asterism. 25 degrees is equal to the distance from your little finger (which you place on the star Antares) and your thumb when you hold your hand at arm’s length from you. Your thumb will be on the asterism of the Teapot, which is in the constellation Sagittarius. Between these two points runs the Milky Way.

This portion of the Milky Way contains several Nebulas, star clusters and other great items. With binoculars you can see thousands of stars. One nebula in this region is the Messier object M16 or the Eagle Nebula. Within the Eagle Nebula are the “Pillars of Creation,” which were made famous from the Hubble Space Telescope images. With a 10-inch telescope or larger you can image the “Pillars of Creation.”

This region of sky is great for nightscape images. You will often see images with the dark and cloudy region of the Milky Way over some prominent landmark. I have often imaged this in our National Parks. My favorite was the Balancing Rock in Arches in the foreground and the Milky Way in the background.

You don’t even need a telescope to take nightscape images. A camera that can keep the shutter open 20 to 30 seconds is adequate. It is best to have a tripod to keep the camera steady for that length of time. Give it a try sometime.