“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 ?