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NGC 6514 (14,868 of 18,816)


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Trifid Nebula

NGC 6514, Ced 151, C 1759-230, Cl Collinder 360, LBN 27, LBN 006.99-00.17, Ocl 23.0, Messier 20, Trifid Nebula, V 10, V 11, V 12, IV 41, h 1991, h 3718, GC 4355

RA: 18h 02m 23s
Dec: −23° 01′ 48″

Con: Sagittarius
Ch: MSA:1392, U2:339, SA:22


(reference key)

Type: bright nebula (HII region)

Mag: B=6.75, V=6.3

Size: 28′
PA: ?

Image gallery

Sketches  (3)

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Photos  (20)

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History and Accurate Positions for the NGC/IC Objects (Corwin 2004)

NGC 6514. See NGC 6533.

Historical observations

William Herschel (c.1784)

Synonyms: H V-010, H V-011, H V-012, H IV-041

Recorded as IV.41 on May 26, 1786 by William Herschel with an 18.7-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He called it "a double star with extensive nebulosity of different intensity. About the double star is a black opening resembling the neb. in Orion in miniature."

Observed in 1784 by William Herschel with an 18.7-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He called it "three nebulae, faintly joined, form a triangle. In the middle is a double star, vF, and of great extent."

Recorded as IV.41 on May 26, 1786 by William Herschel with an 18.7-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He called it "a double star with extensive nebulosity of different intensity. About the double star is a black opening resembling the neb. in Orion in miniature." In the Appendix to the 1912 'Scientific Papers of Sir William Herschel' this object is described as "1783, May 3, 20 feet telescope, two nebulae close together, both resolvable into stars; the preceding however leaves some doubt, though I suppose a higher power and more light would confirm the conjecture. 10 feet telescope, power 350; the instrument will not bear a higher power in this low altitude."

John Herschel (1847) Cape Observations

Observed by Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope with an 18-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He recorded the "triple star in the trifid nebula." On a second occassion he called it "one of the most remarkable nebulae, and must bve very carefully delineated. It is very large and has many outlying portions and sinuses. See fig 2, Plate II."

Lassell, W. (1866)

Bibcode: [1866MmRAS..36....1L]

Sketched and described.

Barnard, E.E. (1908)

See: Barnard, E.E. (1908) Some notes on nebulae and nebulosities. Astr. Nachr., No.4239.

Published comments

Cederblad, S. (1946) [VII/231]

Ced 151 (NGC 6514)

Position (1900): RA 17 56.6, Dec - 23 2

Star: -23 13804 (Mp=6.95, V=6.91, SpT=O7)

Spectrum of nebula: emission spectrum (observed)

Classification: Nebulous cluster (Nebulous envelop of intricate structure, eg. NGC 2175)

Size: 29'x27'

Notes: "NGC 6514 = GC 4355 = h 1991 = h 3718 = H IV 41 = HV 10, 11, 12 = M 20 = "The Trifid nebula". Disc. Le Gentil 1748 (Compare Chapter I note 14). WP 92. (30, 57, 74, 85, 88 Pl 42, 93 Pl 29 Pl 30, 103, 114, 164, 174, 176, 191, 194, 210, 216, 228, 237, 238, 252, 260, 351. 366, 399, 407, 408, 453, 455, 457, 482, 486, 511, 520, 543, 559, 616, 630 Pl 4 Pl 6, 673, 682, 715, 717, 768). R. Hubble (366) ascribes the nebular light mainly to -23 13804. According to Wallenquist (768), -22 4510 (of the {alf} Cygni type) is probably responsible for the light of 1he northern part. HD stars belonging to the cluster : -23 13789 = HD 164384. -22 4503 = HD 164402 = Boss 24526. -23 13804 = HD 164492 = Boss 24537. -22 4510 = HD 164514. -22 4516 = HD 164637 = Boss 24558. -22 4520 = HD 164704. -23 13832 = HD 164739. -22 4533 = HD 164833."

Burnham's Celestial Handbook

Better known as the Trifid nebula, M 20 was probably first seen by LeGentil in 1747 and discovered by Messier in June 1764. Messier saw it as a cluster of faint stars." and found its presence "indicated only by a peculiar glow [which surrounded] the delicate triple star in the centre of its opening, the nebulous matter resisted light of my telescope..."

Sir William Herschel found the nebulosity conspicuously divided by a curious pattern of dark lanes, and catalogued the brightest portions as four separate objects.

John Herschel was probably the first to call it the "Trifid" nebula, and described it as "consisting of three bright and irregularly formed nebulous masses, graduating away insensibly externally, but coming up to a great intensity of light at their interior edges where they enclose and surround a sort of 3-forked rift or vacant area, abruptly and uncouthly crooked and quite void of nebulous light... A beautiful triple star is situated precisely on the edge of one of these nebulous masses just where the interior vacancy forks into two channels." This multiple star, GC 24537, which is also the illuminating star in the nebula, has six components which were discovered by S.W. Burnham using the 36" Lick refractor:


Components Magnitudes Separation PA

A - B 7 10.6 5.4" 23

A - C 7 8.8 10.6" 212

A - F 7 13.8 22.1" 106

C - D 8.8 10.5 2.2" 282

C - E 8.8 12.4 6.2" 191


The dark lanes are also known as Barnard 85.

Shapley, H. & Paraskevopoulos, J.S. (1940)

Galactic and Extragalactic Studies, III. Photographs of thirty southern nebulae and clusters. Proc. N.A.S., 26, 31-36.

Lynds, B.T. (1965)

(Astrophysical Journal Supplement, No 105, 1965) in her Catalogue of Bright Nebulae, notes that its maximum size is 20' x 20' and that it is brighter on the red POSS plate.

Doig, P. (1926)

"A Catalogue of Estimated Parallaxes of 112 Nebulae, Open clusters and Star Groups", Vol 36 (4), p 107-115.

He gives the approx. diameter as 24x20 arcmin.

Doig, P. (1925)

Journal BAA, 35, Sep, p316

Covers an area 24'x29' on photos, with remarkable dark lanes. Lampland suspects changes, two fine filaments crossing the dark lanes being slightly displaced, and finds a faint 16th mag variable in it.

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

(Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 5.0 mag cluster associated with nebulosity.

Bailey, S.I. (1908)

"!! nebula, double, irregular, the larger part trifid; stars involved; The Trifid Nebula"

Bailey, S.I. (1908) A catalogue of bright stars and nebulae. Ann.Harv.Coll.Obs., 60(8), 199.

Remarks, p.218: "a beautiful object. the spectrum is gaseous. the nebula, as shown in fugure 12, consists of two nearly distinct parts, each having a bright star near the centre. faint stars are also involved, but these are little, if any, more numerous than the stars in the surrounding region."

Modern observations

Whitman, A. (1998)

Seeking summer's dark nebulae. Sky&Telescope, Aug, 114-118.

Hartung, E.J. (1968) Astron.Obj.South.Tel

Notes that a 4" will show three of the companions, whilst an 8" is needed to see the fourth. C E Barns described the Trifid as "a dark night revelation even in modest apertures... Bulbous image trisected with dark rifts of interposing opaque cosmic dustclouds..." Burnham comments that the trifid appearance should be easy in a good 8-inch at moderate power, while Hartung says that the lanes "may be seen with 10.5cm [4"]". The lanes are about 45" across, the east and west lane merging into the surrounding blackness of the night sky on the edges of the nebula, whereas the southern lane is blocked by a bright feature.

Neilson, David (1992)

Neilson (Oakland, California, USA), writes in the The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 10, July 1992: "Not seen to advantage. Bright, close pair at centre of mistiness. Closer inspection shows the tripartite division of the mist. Seven or eight fainter stars involved (12.8-inch)."

Harrington, Phil (1990)

Harrington, P. (1990) An observer's guide to diffuse nebulae � II. Sky&Telescope, July, 97.

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the e-version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "6.3M; One of the best! 25' diameter nebulosity complex worth an hour of your time; includes double star HN-40 (6" separation @ PA 022; 7.6-10.7M); dark lanes intersect to give name-"TRIFID"; N-filter aids greatly; faint nebulosity just N and A little E of main body; reference-BCH-III-1590."

Ware, Donald J

The Trifid Nebula. Only a short distance north of M-8, this object is rather easily found, but is considerably fainter than that object. A double star is seen surrounded by a mostly circular patch of light. This patch of light is divided into three separate regions by dark lanes which intersect near its center. On a good night, a fainter region of reflection nebulosity of almost equal size as the main portion can be seen to the north."

Gramer, Lew (IAAC)

Observer: Lew Gramer; Your skills: Intermediate; Date and UT of Observation: 1997-07-4/5, 03:45 UT; Location: Savoy, MA, USA (42N, elev 700m); Site classification: rural; Limiting magnitude: 7.1 (zenith); Seeing: 5 of 10 - mediocre, near total cumulus; Moon up: no; Instrument: Naked eye, 50mm Simmons binoculars; Magnification: 1x, 7x; Filters used: None; Object: M8, M20, ngc6530 (globular ngc6544 not seen); Category: Reflection nebulae and open cluster; Constellation: Sgr; Data: mags 4.6, 6.3, 4.6 sizes 80'x40', 28', 15'; RA/DE: 18h00m -24o; Description: Two bino fields (8o) due N of Sgr's teapot spout, and arrayed about the line formed by the mag 4-6 stars 4, 7 and 9 Sgr and the blurry open cluster n6530. M8 and M20 fall easily in the same field, forming between them a beautiful complex of BRIGHT haze and intermingled field stars. The dark bar running through the center of M8 was readily apparent even at 7x, as was some mottling whenever averted, concentrated vision was used. M20 to the N appeared much fainter, and (more suprisingly) larger than M8, and often required averted vision to see. No detail could be discerned in the extended haze. Interestingly, back- ground stars in this field were so thick and poorly resolved that they seemed to form a "bridge" of nebulous light between and among the two brighter (M8) & fainter (M20) true nebulae. No note of globular ngc 6544, SE of M8, was made at the time.

Shaffer, Alan (IAAC)

Observer: Alan Shaffer (e-mail: milkyway@gte.net, web: http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/3693/); Instrument: 25-inch Dobsonian reflector Location: Mt. Pinos, California, US; Light pollution: none Transparency: excellent Seeing: excellent; Time: Sat Jun 7 10:00:00 1997 UT Obs. no.: 143

Trifid Nebula. An utter beauty. Again, using the O-III filter, this object jumps out. Easily observe the dark dust lanes in the central area of the nebula. Again, this nebula was observable to the naked eye. Could easily split the double star.

Steve Coe

Steve Coe, observing with a 13" f/5.6, notes: "(M20) Very bright, very large, irregularly round, approximately 40 stars involved in a nebula that is criss-crossed by dark lanes at 135X. The Trifid is naked eye from even a moderately dark site. The UHC filter enhanced the nebulosity, but I like the view of this object better without the filter. The triple star in the center of the brightest section is HN 40, it is split at 165X and it two yellow and one light blue star embedded within the Trifid nebulosity."

Contemporary observations

Kerneels Mulder

2008 October 25

Date and Time: 25 October 2008, 20:00
Location: Prince Albert (Western Cape, South Africa).
Instrument: Orion XT10 10" f/4.7 Dobsonian Reflector
Eyepieces: 10mm (120x, 26′ FOV), 25mm (48x, 1� FOV)
Sky Conditions: Clear. Seeing: 7/10. Transparency: Good

Easy to locate since it's within 5� of M8. In the finderscope it is visible as a patch of nebulosity surrounding a star. Using an O-III filter increases the contrast of the nebula.

At 96x (25mm barlowed) details become visible. It is reasonably faint and not as distinct as easy to see as M8. The nebula is roughly circular in form with diffuse edges and is slightly smaller than 30′.

A double star in the centre of the nebula can be resolved into two distinct stars in close proximity to each other. Three dark lanes converge in centre forming a Y shape and dividing the nebula into 3 areas. Brightness fades towards edges. Around 7 fainter stars can be seen within the nebulosity and 2 stars within the dark lane that runs from NE to SW.

Auke Slotegraaf


Observing from Stellenbosch, 1983, I saw this cluster in a 2-inch refractor as a tiny nebulous patch containing a star: looking just like a bright star viewed through a heavily dewed lens!

1998 July 31

Location: Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Assegaaibosch Station

Date: 1998 July 31 / August 01, 01:00-02:40 SAST

11x80 tripod-mounted binoculars (9.5 mag stars at times not easy)

Sky conditions: Mediocre (transp. low, seeing average, dew) The skies are showing the effects of the combination of pollution (mainly from a nearby wood-processing plant) and a stable inversion layer, turning daytime skies grey-blue, and night skies ashen.

An 8th magnitude star [multiple on map], one of several in a rough chain leading north-eastwards to M21. This star, however, is clearly bloated, being surrounded by nebulosity.

Although the U339 shows the Trifid as two nebulous portions, only the southern part was seen.

Looked carefully for B85, nothing seen.

Richard Ford

2010 May,15 Saturday


Instrument:12"Dobsonian Reflector Telescope.

Sky Conditions:The fainter parts of the Milky Way are barely visible.

Transparency of the Sky:Haziness only visible on the horizon.

Seeing:Atmosphere stable with little interference.

Limiting Magnitude:4.9.

First Impression:Nebula.



Chart Number:No.18(Extract taken out of "Atlas of the Night Sky").

Size:26mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:57'/6=9.5'.

20mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:50'/5.5=9.0'.



Size in Arc Minutes:9.2'.

Brightness:Extremely Bright.

Brightness Profile:High Surface Brightness.

Challenge Rating:Spectacular under dark skies.



Upon observing this nebula,I have found areas of uneven

brightness all over.This nebula has a cauliflower shape of bright dark lanes broken away from each other.This nebula is well divided into dark lanes which is split into three.In overall,the bright central star in this nebula breaks the nebula into bright lanes of gas and dust.

Tom Bryant

2006-10-13 23:00:00

Observing site: Pinnacles overlook

Telescope: C-8

[18h 2m 18s, -23� 2' 0"] Just north of M8, the nebulosity is more uniform that M8's, and fainter. The "Trifid" nature is not so apparent, as it's difficult to see the dark lanes cutting the nebula into 3 parts. It looks more like a cloud crossed by some slightly darker lines. There is a concentration of stars about the nebula, but the entire field looks like a cluster, which, in a way it is: the Sagittarius arm cluster!

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