Stuck in the Lagoon's quagmire

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Oct. 16 2010 7:18 AM

Stuck in the Lagoon's quagmire

The Lagoon Nebula is one of the more famous objects in the sky. It's a big, bright gas cloud easily spotted using binoculars in the constellation of Sagittarius, and through a telescope reveals quite a bit of detail. I've seen it literally hundreds of times, observing in the summer when Sagittarius is up. You can even see it in a picture I took a few weeks ago (if you're really curious, scroll to the bottom, click the pic of Sagittarius, and then look off to the right of center; the compact fuzzy pink thing is the Lagoon).

So when you take something big, bright, and close, and point Hubble at it, the detail is pretty spectacular:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Advertisement

hst_lagoon

As you might expect, I could go on and on about what you're seeing here: dense clouds of gas and dust, star forming regions, shock waves, and the like. Instead, though, I'll direct you to the four bumps, like a wave going across the nebula from left to right and downsloping a bit. Take a look at that third one from the left. Does it look familiar...?

[Punch line after the jump... don't wanna rue-een it...]

lagoon_quagmire

Oh yeah! Giggity giggity lagoon!

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about because you are even older than I am, then just assume it's really Bob Hope. Or Nixon. Or given that eyebrow ridge, Neanderthal Nixon.

I'll stick with Quagmire, though. But not too close. Because, y'know. Ewww.


  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Nov. 21 2014 1:38 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? See if you can keep pace with the copy desk, Slate’s most comprehensive reading team.