AAT image of the Center of the Milky Way


This image was obtained from the AAT and shows the central region of our Milky Way galaxy, situated in constellation Sagittarius, but near the triangle with Scorpius and Ophiuchus. Many Messier objects show up here. As north is about on the left, they are concentrated in the left half of the picture; the southernmost Messier object, open cluster M7, is just right and below center, and bright smallish M6 just above it.

This image is a bit untypical for most time, but on the other hand, demonstrates a typical phenomenon occuring periodically in the Milky Way: Bright Jupiter (the brightest, yellowish "star" in the image) is just passing between us and the Milky Way's central region. This is possible as the orbital plane of all planets, the ecliptic, is passing through our image, and all three constellations mentioned above.

On the very left in the middle, the Sagittarius star cloud M24 can easily be found. Even more left to the picture's edge, a suggestion of open cluster M18 is just notable, while M17 seems to lie just beyond the edge. Below and slightly left of M24, open cluster M25 can be found quite easily, while above right there's an almost starlike blueish patch which actually is open cluster M23 (it is almost exactly above Jupiter).

More to the right of M24, about one third to the image's center, is the bright red Lagoon Nebula M8, with slightly above and left the very small, red-'n'-blue Trifid Nebula M20, and just left of it, open cluster M21. The objects just mentioned, plus some more northern, can be better found in our M24 image.

The Galactic Center is situated almost exactly in the center of this image. The irregular bright patch just right is the Butterfly cluster M6, the more obvious cluster below and slightly right of the center is splendid M7.

The image also contains a larger percentage of all Milky Way globular clusters, including many from the Messier catalog. Below Jupiter, bright and yellow-orange colored globular cluster M22 is easily visible between two fainter stars, while fainter M28 is just visible above Lambda Sagittarii, the white star which is prominent right of Jupiter. At some distance below Jupiter, the trapezium-shaped "teapot" asterism of Sagittarius is clearly recognizable, and just below and right of its lowest star, on the edge of the image, M54 can be glimpsed. Right of the teapot and below the image's center, bright white star Epsilon Sagittarii leads the way to M69, which is the red-orange patch above and left of the white star below and left of Epsilon. It is a bit more difficult to identify M70 about half-way between M69 and M54. Some more of Messier's globular clusters are situated within the field of this image, but the present author could not identify them: M9 should be in the upper part about half way from the center to left, and M19 and M62 should be just right of the upper middle.

Several conspicuous southern nebulae show up left of the center, but they are too much south for Messier's location in Paris.

This image is copyrighted and may be used for private purpose only. For any other kind of use, including internet mirroring and storing on CD-ROM, please contact the Photo Permissions Department (photo at aaoepp.aao.gov.au) of the Anglo Australian Observatory.

  • More information on this image by David Malin
  • Old style AAT image

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: April 19, 1998