June has arrived and the treasures of the Southern Milky Way are coming into a viewable window for me by about 11:30PM. Great objects like M51 and M101 are still perched high in the sky after dusk, but if I’m being honest, they don’t pique my interest as much as the brightness of the Lagoon Nebula, the colors of the Trifid or the majesty of the Eagle. Just like I wait for Andromeda and the Triangulum galaxies to rise up in August and dominate the fall, and Orion to take center stage in November to dominate the Winter. The Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way can contain a Summer full of imaging in itself.
Consider this as an addendum to the previous Milky Way Treasures entry. As you can see by the horrible image below, there is plenty to be had.
This was at about 100mm on a cheap kit lens and only about 10 minutes of integration time and should by no means be an example of anything other than the brightness and close proximity of these Summer objects. There are 4 excellent opportunities in that last through much of the Summer, depending on your access to the Southern sky.
Those 5 objects labeled in the image above are all just small objects visible when looking back at the core of our Milky Way Galaxy, through a telescope, they will fill up your imaging field of view. Summer is a time when the Southern sky lights up for those at dark sites. This is also a time to get out any camera and any tripod you might have and just have fun and experiment. You could be pleasantly surprised with what you get, even if you’re not at a dark site. Check out this post to get started with equipment you probably already have – Dive into Astrophography Tonight!
These are all bright objects rich in Hydrogen gas. They are bright enough to get data with a standard camera, but all beg for a modified camera and straight Ha data. Check out these posts for information about both that I gathered during the Winter season.
Imaging in Severe Light Pollution (Unmodified DSLR)
Imaging in Severe Light Pollution (Modified DSLR)
Imaging Low Summer Objects in Light Pollution
If you want to take on those nebulae up close, here’s a long, but detailed post about what you’ll need to get started, and below is about 2 hours of data on the Eagle Nebula – What’s the Bare Minimum to Get Started?
For folks who prefer the distinct challenges and rewards of imaging nebulae, this is what we’ve been waiting for since Orion drifted off toward the Western horizon. The nights are shorter, and much much later now, but in my neighborhood more nights are clear in the Summer. I’m just waiting for the clearing and getting over a bad cold to get a jump on these. Get out and enjoy being outside without 8 layers!
I almost forgot, but I don’t want to leave out the planets. Maybe I’m just a bit jealous due to my lack of imaging success on planets. Venus and Jupiter are pretty high up just after dusk. Saturn trails just off the western edge of the Milky Way band and Mars trails behind after I’m asleep. Plenty of great planetary viewing opportunities all Summer long.
Clear Skies, Bleary Eyes – KA