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The Trifid Nebula, Messier's 20th

Charles Messier made a list of objects in the night sky as he hunted for comets. As he encountered objects which were not comets, he made a note of them so he and others wouldn't waste time on them in their search for the transient icy rocks of the solar system. What has become known as the Trifid Nebula is the 20th object in his 110-object catalog.

In this 30-minute exposure, M20 is seen as it can never be seen with the eye through a telescope. Only the long exposure of a photograph along with some post-processing can bring out the colors and detail seen here. At only 30 minutes, this is considered a short astronomical exposure. A more refined photograph of this object requires more exposure time along with dark and flat frames, neither of which were used in the version seen here.

M20, the Trifid Nebula, as imaged with an AG Optical 10" f/3.8 Newtonian telescope and FLI ML11002-C camera. Thirty-minute exposure (2 x 15 minutes) with no darks or flats. Cropped from full frame.

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