Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti


M20 Trifid Nebula



Trifid Nebula Wide View Below

Features Partial M8 Lagoon Nebula Left & M21 Open Star Cluster Upper Right




The Trifid Nebula was named over 200 years ago by John Herschel to describe its tri-lobed appearance.  A bright young triple star at the center of the Trifid excites and illuminates the surrounding hydrogen clouds.  The three components of the triple star are too close too each other to distinguish in this image.  Above the emission nebula a fainter blue reflection nebula is seen.  The star forming Trifid Nebula is 5,200 light years away. 


  • Date & Location:  August 30th, 2011  - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  60F with light winds

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with average transparency

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is Refractor w/1.5x extender  =  810mm @ f8.1

  • Filter:  Astronomic  EOS clip-in CLS-CCD (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Tracked, PEC active

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500D) Hap Griffin Modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  7 x 5 minutes exposures ISO 1600 (35 min total)

  • Calibration Frames:  16 Darks & 9 Bias frames

  • Processing:  Images Plus 3.82b, Photoshop CS4, NIK, Noise Ninja

  • Comments:   Located on my southern horizon, which is somewhat light polluted, I was able to gain enough detail from the nebula with the aid of a light pollution suppression filter and the combining multiple light frames.



The wide field image shows the colorful Trifid Nebula M20 to right of center with the large Lagoon Nebula M8 partially shown on the far left of the image frame.  To the upper right is the open star cluster M21 which features a group of young blue giant stars.  These stars are believed to be about 4.6 million years old and are located 4250 light years from Earth, so closer to us than the Trifid Nebula.  For an even wider field view of this region that includes all of the Lagoon Nebula click on the following link.

Wide Field Lagoon & Trifid Nebula Region


  • Date & Location:  August 4/5, 2016 - StarEffects Observatory, Bernville. PA

  • Weather:  Calm winds, average temp of 66F

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with Above Average Transparency - Average Transparency at finish. 

  • SQM-L:  Start to Finish 20:49 - 20:57

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is 540mm w/Field Flattener @ f5.4

  • Filter:  Astronomic  EOS clip-in CLS (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  TeleVue TV60is - Orion Star Shoot AG - 5 second exp - good graph

  • Camera:  Canon TIi  Hap Griffin modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  24 x 5min @ ISO800  (total 2 hours)

  • Calibration Frames: 16 Darks, 16 Bias @ 70F - No Flats Used.

  • Processing:    Images Plus 5.75a, PS CS6, GradientXTerminator, NIK filter tools 

  • Comments:  Overall pleased with this semi-wide field image considering the relatively short exposure time. 

Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors