Romance in the Sky

Our journey continues along the Milky Way Galactic Core and just a stone’s throw away from the Eagle Nebula (16)… well not nearly or remotely as close. Meet my version of the cosmic romantic bird, the Swan Nebula, catalogued as Messier 17 (or M17). M17 is also called the Omega Nebula, Check Mark Nebula, the Lobster Nebula, and the Horseshoe Nebula. I won’t opine on the reason behind all of these names, but this beauty is a dense hydrogen region located some 5,000 light years away from Earth in the constellation of Sagittarius. This nebulous region is said to a radius of roughly 11 million light years. Mind blowing!!! 🤯

Honestly, I looked long and hard to find the swan in this image. When I found it I could not “unsee” it 😊. Let me know if you see it. In the meantime, remember to look up and experience an amazing Universe!

Gear: AA Hypercam 26C, Askar 80 PHQ, HEM27 mount, Optolong L-Ultimate; ZWO OAG + 120mc

Exif: 12 x 5-min lights; Gain 200, Offset 3, TEC @ 10 degrees; 20 darks, 20 flats, 20 dark flats

SharpCap, PHD2; AstroPixelProcessor, PixInsight; Photoshop


  1. As usual a very nice picture. Didn’t realize it was so large at 11 million light years in radius really is pretty darn big. I’m pretty sure I always just referred to it is m17 or the Omega nebula, so to be perfectly honest I am still looking for “the swan”.
    I know that sort of an optical illusion thing so when I can finally get it to stand out for me I will let you know!
    Best wishes and best regards as always,

  2. Wow how exciting. I’m very happy for you. Unfortunately, my eyesight isn’t good enough to see the Swan, but I will try again when there has been improvement. I’ve bookmarked your post.

      1. You’re welcome, Drexel. My pleasure – your astro work amazes me and I’m glad you had a Milky Way moment. BTW, in my blog post today about Swan bathing beauties, I linked to your Swan Nebula post. Hope that was ok! Enjoy your weekend.

      2. Thank you Babsje. These days those moments are few and far in between so it was golden 😊. There is no problem sharing anyone of my links. Feel free to do that anytime. Have a great weekend!

  3. Many of the names of objects like this come from the pioneers of the nineteenth century using optics somewhat different to those which are available now. What they saw is not necessarily what we see. Like you, I get puzzled sometimes – and the degree of orientation also affects what the mind sees.

    1. Definitely a great perspective. I would be interested in seeing what they saw. Will look into this. I’m sure they would have sketched what they saw 😊

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