M17, The Swan Nebula

Woo Hoo! Finally I was able to take a telescope out for observing the night sky for the first time in almost two months. The July object for the Las Vegas Observers challenge is M17 and I wonted to try to get a sketch of this object. Check out there site and look at all the sketches completed by other people. You will find it at www.lvastronomy.com

I set up the ETX 125 PE, a 5-inch Mak-cass telescope, at sunset to reach ambient temperature and went out to observe after it was good and dark around 11:00 pm. I began with a tour of the globular clusters visible from my yard, always a fun thing to do, while waiting for the nebula to rise higher in the sky. The sky was filled with the usual summer haze allowing only magnitude 3.9 for the naked eye limit in the southern sky where M17 is located. Overhead the sky was a little better with a magnitude 4.4  naked eye limiting magnitude.

I was surprised to see the nebula in town with my 10×50 Nikon binoculars. With the binoculars the nebula was basically an averted vision object, but still easy to see.  Using a 24mm panoptic eyepiece for a magnification of 79x, the nebula could be seen without a filter as a long hazy area extending from northwest to southeast. Adding a OIII filter to the eyepiece, the nebula took on the characteristic shape of a swan swimming on water.

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