“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” –Thomas Sowell

Every object of the 110 in the Messier Catalogue tells its own unique story, but not every object is a true astronomical object on its own! Along with two groupings of stars — a double star (M40) and a quadruple star (M73) — there’s also a very special object that’s neither a star cluster nor a chance grouping: the Sagittarius Star Cloud!

Image credit: RoryG from East Texas, at http://eastexastronomy.blogspot.com/2011/03/messier-24-sagittarius-star-cloud-redo.html.

Image credit: RoryG from East Texas, at http://eastexastronomy.blogspot.com/2011/03/messier-24-sagittarius-star-cloud-redo.html.

What you’re actually seeing is a hole in the “dust” of the Milky Way’s plane, enabling us to see more than 10,000 light-years, all the way to the closest spiral arm to us. That little window opens up, by angular size, the largest Messier object of them all!

Image credit: © 2006 — 2012 by Siegfried Kohlert, via http://www.astroimages.de/en/gallery/M24.html.

Image credit: © 2006 — 2012 by Siegfried Kohlert, via http://www.astroimages.de/en/gallery/M24.html.

Go read the whole story, and enjoy the amazing images that come with it!

Comments

  1. #1 Marti Latta
    Toronto, Canada
    August 5, 2014

    Thanks so much for Messier Mondays! I look forward every week to a new, mind-blowing vision of the universe around us.

  2. #2 irene
    Sao Paulo, SP BRASIL
    August 6, 2014

    Great way to start my day… truly a magnificent website. Thanks!

  3. #3 Urban Jonsson
    Sweden
    August 12, 2014

    Nice site, it gives dimension. I have an experience I would like to share: twenty years ago, I stood gazing up at a clear night sky – All the stars of the milky way were brilliant – and then suddenly I saw the shape of our galaxy, I saw it from inside. I could see that I was inside it and I could see the disk-shaped big thing from inside – It was overwhelming to grasp an object of this size. This was the largest single object I have ever made an image of. Sometimes I wonder if it’s possible to see even larger ?