Messier 8, a “Lagoon” of stars

The summer sky is coming with its treasures and we could not resist to image the venerable Messier 8, the “Lagoon” nebula with the stunning Tenagra III robotic telescope, placed under the fabulous stars of the Sonoran desert in Arizona.

Messier 8, the "Lagoon" nebula

Messier 8, the “Lagoon” nebula

The image above comes from the average of ten, 60-seconds exposures, unfiltered, remotely taken with the 16″-f/3.75 Tenagra III (“Pearl”) robotic unit part of Tenagra Observatories in Arizona. The imaging camera is based on the KAF-16801 CCD, used in 2×2 binning. The resulting image scale is 2.4″/pixel.

The large field of view (1.2×1.2 square degrees), together with the large aperture of the telescope, offers a stunning wide and amazingly deep view, with so many subtle details, elegant contrasts and a breathtaking number of stars. Some of the stars in the center were born from the nebula, which is one of the most impressive cosmic nurseries we find out there.

Messier 8 is easily visible by naked eye under reasonably dark skies.  It was discovered by Giovanni Hodierna before 1654 and it placed somewhere between 4000 and 6000 light years from us.

The observatory hosting the telescope is placed at 1300 meters above the sea level, in the Sonoran desert, providing one of the best skies in the world. This image comes from a cooperation between the Virtual Telescope Project and Tenagra Observatories, Ltd., which will be announced soon.

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