Stuck in the Lagoon's quagmire

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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!  

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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.


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