M24 M16 M17 M23 M18 Sagittarius Star Cloud wide field
At first glance this region of the Summer Milky Way is full of well-known types of objects. There are glowing red hydrogen emission nebulae, the Omega and the Eagle Nebulae, star clusters such as M23 in the upper right corner, extensive star clouds, obscure dark nebulae and dust clouds, like the dark areas covering whole sections of the image. All these objects are a mere few thousand light years away, the farthest of them in the neighboring Sagittarius spiral arm of our galaxy. It's lesser known, though, that there is a tunnel opening up in the interstellar dust that lets us see some 15,000 light years into the more central regions of our galaxy. The large bluish star cloud M24 slightly below and right off the center is the view through a hole in the Sagittarius Arm, revealing stars in the spiral arms that are closer to the central bar of our galaxy. The other name of M24, Small Sagittarius Star Cloud, may be the reason for the common misconception found in many sources on the internet that it is the Sagittarius Arm that is visible in this spot. In fact, it is the Sagittarius Arm we are looking through. With the Summer Milky Way coming up again in the evenings, this star cloud is among the most beautiful to observe in the night sky. Gazing through binoculars, one will see several hundreds of stars in the field of view. M24 spans about 2.5 degrees in length, which corresponds to five full moons. It is truly inviting and rewarding to take a look at M24 one of those summer nights, because this far away region is full of its own remote treasures, star clusters and, of course, a lot of very distant suns. The image was shot by project nightflight with a Canon DSLR from a rural site on stars island La Palma. 45 subframes with a total exposure time of 2 hours were digitally combined to produce this high dynamic range (HDR) image. [Released May 25, 2015]