A Celestial Swan

This is M17, the “Swan Nebula”. Everyone seems to see something different in it! To me the whole thing looks like a swan seen from the side, but my family sees different birds within it. It’s like seeing shapes in clouds, which makes sense, as this is just a really, really big cloud of gas within our galaxy.

It’s about 5,500 light-years away within the constellation Sagittarius. It’s fairly bright as nebulas go; you can see it in binoculars if you know where to look.

I processed this image in a couple of different ways; one that approximates how our eyes would see it if they could, and other in the “Hubble Palette” that maps ionized Sulfur, Hydrogen, and Oxygen emissions to red, green, and blue respectively.

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