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Star cloud M24

Fantastic sight in binoculars and small telescopes

M24, also known as the Sagittarius Star Cloud, is a large naked eye expanse of stars, clusters, nebulosity and other objects located in Sagittarius. At mag. +4.6 and covering 1.5 degrees of sky, it's visible to the naked eye as a large detached part of the Milky Way. The object is a fantastic sight in binoculars and small telescopes. It's claimed that M24 has the densest concentration of individual stars visible, around a thousand, in a single binocular field of view. The Sagittarius Star Cloud is not a true deep sky object but results from a rare alignment between the Earth and the centre of our galaxy. We would expect this region to be packed with interstellar dust, however by chance we are looking through a gap in the dust. 

As a result, many thousands of distant stars, clusters and nebulae are visible that would otherwise be obscured. Spatially, M24 covers a volume up to 16,000 light-years deep. M24 can be found 7 degrees north and a little west of the top star of the bright teapot asterism, Kaus Borealis (λ Sgr - mag. +2.8). Positioned north of M24 is open cluster M18 and the Omega Nebula (M17). All three objects are visible in the same binocular field of view. Open clusters M23 and M25 are located a few degrees west and east of M24 respectively. M24 was discovered by Charles Messier on June 20, 1764. It's best seen from southern or equatorial latitudes during the months of June, July and August.

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