The Lagoon Nebula, M8, is located in the constellation Sagittarius and is a stone’s throw away in cosmic terms, just 5,200 lightyears from Earth.
The Lagoon Nebula is formally known as Messier 8, as it was one of the deep-sky objects catalogued by French astronomer Charles Messier when he was compiling his Messier Catalogue.
Rather than making a list of tantalising deep-sky objects, however, Messier was in fact a comet hunter, and was listing celestial objects he wanted to avoid in his search for comets!
The Lagoon Nebula had been discovered much earlier, however, in 1654 by Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Hodierna.
M8 Lagoon OSC plus Mono Ha by Jesper Sundh, Lyon centre, France. Equipment: AP1600GTO mount, SW120ED, SXVR-M25C, UV/IR block, SW80ED, Atik 460EX, Astrodon 3nm Ha filter, SX Lodestar, OAG in the SW80ED.
This star-forming region is a cosmic cloud of interstellar gas that glows due to stars within the nebula unleashing ultraviolet radiation and ionising hydrogen gas, causing it to shine.
Of particular note is NGC 6530, an open star cluster embedded within the nebula, and giant star Herschel 36, which is the main source of the Lagoon Nebula’s glow.
This star is 32 times as massive as our Sun and is unleashing a torrent of charged particles known as a stellar wind, which sculpts and carves the cosmic cloud and gives the Lagoon Nebula its distinctive shape.
Below is a selection of images the Lagoon Nebula – some in which it is paired with the Trifid Nebula – sent to us by BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers and astrophotographers from around the world.
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Lagoon Nebula by Mark Casto, Halesworth, Suffolk, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 200p, EQ5 mount with dual axis motor, Canon 350d
Lagoon and Trifid Nebula wide field by Mark Casto, Halesworth, Suffolk, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher Evostar ED80, Canon 350D, EQ5 Mount unguided
The Lagoon Nebula – M8 by Simon Hollingdale, East Sussex, UK Equipment: Atik 314L mono, ED80, 0.6 reducer. Guided using a finder guider & phd neq6 mount.
M8 The Lagoon Nebula by Michael LaMonaco, Jenny Jump State Park, NJ, USA. Equipment: Celestron C8, f/6.3 Reducer/Corrector, Celestron Advanced VX GEM, Canon 60Da
Lagoon Nebula Close Up by Chris Price, Cedartown, GA, USA. Equipment: SkyWatcher Pro 100ed APO, Celestron CG-5 Advanced GT mount, Canon T3i
Lagoon Nebula Wide Field by Chris Price, Cedartown, GA, USA. Equipment: SkyWatcher Pro 100ed APO, Celestron CG-5 Advanced GT mount, Canon T3i
The Lagoon Nebula by Tom Bishton, South East Queensland, Austrailia. Equipment: Skywatcher ED120 Black Diamond Refractor, AZEQ6 Mount, Orion ST80 Guidescope, Skywatcher Synguider, Canon 6D camera
Rich colourful Lagoon and Trifid with IC1274 by Christian vd Berge, Kiripotib, Namibia. Equipment: Nikon D600, APM 107/700, Riccardi 0.75 reducer, Fornax 51 mount, Lacerta MGEN guide.
Pipe Nebula with Lagoon and Trifid by Christian van den Berge, Namibia. Equipment: Nikkor 80-200mm F2.8 (80mm F4), Nikon D5100, Fornax 51 mount, Lacerta MGEN guide.
M8 and M20 Triffid and Lagoon Nebulae by Tom Bishton, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: Skywatcher ED120 Black Diamond Telescope, AZEQ6 Mount, Orion ST80 Guidescope, Skywatcher Synguider, Canon 6D camera
M8 – Lagoon Nebula by Andreas Papp, Hakos Farm, Namibia. Equipment: Self made 8″ F3.8 Astrograph, SW EQ6 mount, Lacerta MGEN for autoguiding, modified Canon 550D camera
M8, Lagoon Nebula by José J. Chambó, Hoya Redonda, Valencia, Spain. Equipment: GSO 8″ f/3.8, Canon EOS-100D
Lagoon & Trifid Nebulae by Ravi Kailas, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Equipment: Canon 6D, Canon 300mm f2.8ii, Astrotrac TT320X-AG (unguided).
M20 and M8 by Mario Richter, Kiripotib Astrofarm, Namibia. Equipment: Am Apotheke Witz reduziert of fornax 51.
Lagoon & Trifid Nebulae by Terry Hancock, Grand Mesa, Whitewater Colorado, USA. Equipment: Takahashi FSQ-130, Paramount ME German Equatorial Mount, QHY367C, Optolong Luminance Filter.
M8 & M20 by de Cuevas David, Treize Vents, France. Equipment: AstroTech 66ED, WIlliams Optic FF II, Canon 450D Baader, Skywatcher EQ6 Pro
M8 by Ronald Piacenti Junior, Observatorio Norma, Brasilia-DF, Brazil. Equipment: Celestron C6 Schmidt-Cassegrain, HEQ5 Pro mount, ZWO ASI174MC camera, focal reducer 0.63, optilong CLS filter.
M8 by Ronald Piacenti Junior, Padre Bernardo, Goias, Brazil. Equipment: Explore Scientific 80 mm Essential ED Triplet Refractor, SkyWatcher HEQ5 Pro Mount, ZWO ASI174 camera
M8 Lagoon Nebula by Tom Bishton, Brisbane, Australia. Equipment: ED120 Refractor, AZEQ6 Mount, ST80 Guidescope, Canon 600D modded, Synguider
Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8 – SHO) by William Tan, Johor, Malaysia. Equipment: Skyrover 110ED doublet len, iOptron ZEQ25, ASI1600MM Cool
Trifid and Lagoon Nebulae by Gábor Szendrñi, Kendig-peak, Hungary. Equipment: GPU 100/635 apochromatic refractor + Riccardi 0.75x reducer/flattener, modified Canon EOS 700D, ISO 800, 30 x 240 s exposure
Lagoon & Trifid Nebula by Peter Louer, North Tenerife. Equipment: Astro Modified Canon 600D Canon 100-400mm lens set at 180mm, Skywatcher Staradventurer mount.
Very bright optical transient near the Trifid and Lagoon Nebulae by Sebastian Voltmer, Siding Spring, Australia. Equipment: Takahashi FSQ-106ED, FLI Microline 16803, Paramount PME.
Messier 8 by Jose Manuel Perez, Observatori Astronòmic de l’Institut d’Alcarràs (OAIA), Spain. Equipment: Meade LX200 8″ f10, Sbig ST9.
Around M8, M20 and M21 by Konstantinos Christodoulopoulos, Parnonas Mountain, Greece. Equipment: Canon EOS 450D, Canon EF 200mm lens, Skywatcher HEQ5 Synscan pro, Vixen ED81S, DMK21AU04, PHD guiding.