On September 6th, Saturn halts its retrograde (westward) motion 2[degrees] above or upper left of M8 (the Lagoon Nebula) and east of M20 (the Trifid Nebula
), and slowly begins to move eastward in northern Sagittarius.
As a scientist, I know that what I am looking at here is a wonderful example of an interstellar cloud in the Trifid Nebula
(M20) compressed by the shock of a nearby supernova.
Binoculars and telescopes reveal dozens of star clusters and nebulae in Sagittarius, none finer than M8 (the Lagoon Nebula), M17 (the Omega or Swan Nebula), dimmer M20 (the Trifid Nebula
) and the great globular cluster M22.
Smoldering several thousand light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer), the Trifid Nebula
presents a compelling portrait of the early stages of a star's life, from gestation to first light.
* NASA scientists analyzing data from the Hubble Space Telescope see unusual activity in the Trifid Nebula
. Lifting of cosmic gases reveal vague outline of letters "W" and "M".
So it was last weekend, when I was checking on M8, the Lagoon Nebula, and M20, the Trifid Nebula
, for the first time this season.
Near this are M8, the Lagoon Nebula, and fainter M20, the Trifid Nebula
. Near the Teapot's lid is the globular cluster M22.
Saturn slows its retrograde (westward) motion in Sagittarius all month, falling just short of reaching M8 (the Lagoon Nebula) and M20 (the Trifid Nebula
Nudge your scope 1 1/2 [degrees] north-northwest of M8 to locate the Trifid Nebula
Its magnitude fades from +0.0 to +0.2, but the golden planet continues to glow in the midst of the Sagittarius Milky Way, slowly retrograding west to within a few degrees of M8, the Lagoon Nebula, and M20, the Trifid Nebula
. The globe of Saturn has an apparent equatorial diameter of about 18" (similar to that of Venus a little after mid-month).
The same is true for the Trifid Nebula
, M20, which truly blossoms when viewed with a nebula filter at medium to high magnification.
Just north of the Sagittarius Teapot's spout lies the particularly interesting nebula M20, which is popularly known as the Trifid Nebula
due to the dark lanes of dust that divide the glowing cloud's brightest region into three distinct segments.