Object Data: The region of M8 and M20 in Sagittarius is one of the most outstanding areas of the summer night sky. In the upper part of the photo is M20 with its beautiful combination of reflection and emission nebulosity. To the north west of M20 is the fine galactic cluster M21. Dominating the lower part of the photo is the vast area of M8, whose combined brightness and size is probably not exceeded anywhere in the night sky. To the ENE of M8 is the region of NGC6559 / IC4685 / IC1275 / IC1274, a complex of emission and reflection nebulosity which is probably connected to the M8 region by the continuous underlying nebulous haze. Some fainter nebulous regions are also visible, such as NGC6526, immediately to the north of M8. The galactic centre is not far off the south west corner of this photo.
Date: 29/05/00; 03/06/00
Location: Southern France
Conditions: calm, transparency=7/8, seeing=6/7
Optics: AP 155 EDF f/7 with 4" focuser and integral field flattener
Mount: AP 900 GTO on Portable Pier
Autoguiding: SBIG ST-4 tracking AP 80mm f/11 guidescope
Camera: Pentax 6x7
Film: Kodak GPY 400 120 format (hypered)
Exposure: 2x35 minutes, 29/05/00; 2x40 minutes, 03/06/00
Enhancement: Four negatives were scanned at 2500dpi using a Sprintscan 45 Ultra, then digitally registered in Registar, then further enhanced in Photoshop.
Notes: These were the first negatives I have scanned with the new Sprintscan 45 Ultra - a very high quality scanner capable of 2500 dpi from 35mm to 4x5" plates. Both sets of exposures went quite well and the total of four exposures should have yielded a very deep result but for the very low elevation of this sky region from southern France - the most southerly location I can reasonably get to on a regular basis. The 23 degree (maximum) elevation of this region will always be a limiting factor, but I nonetheless I keep trying - the summer Milky Way holds a special fascination for me because of its relative invisibility from the UK. On warm summer nights in southern France it is wonderful to see the tail of the Scorpion riding along the crest of the horizon - it is worth returning each summer just for that sight alone.