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NGC 6611 (15,086 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Eagle Nebula

NGC 6611, IC 4703, Ced 159, LBN 67, Sh 2-49, Gum 83, Star Queen, Messier 16, Eagle Nebula, h 2006, GC 4400

RA: 18h 18m 48.1s
Dec: −13° 48′ 26″

Con: Serpens
Ch: MSA:1344, U2:294, SA:15

Ref: NGC/IC, NED, Steinicke (2009)

(reference key)

Type: bright nebula

Mag: B=?, V=?

Size: 120′ x 25′
PA: ?

Image gallery

Photos  (7)

Select a photo and click the button to view


It is a member of the Serpens OB 1 Association.

Historical observations

William Herschel (c.1784)

In the Appendix to the 1912 'Scientific Papers of Sir William Herschel' this object is described as "1783, July 30, 20 feet telescope, Large stars with small ones among them; within a small compass I counted more than 50, and there must be at least 100 without taking in a number of straggling ones, everywhere dispersed in the neighbourhood."

Innes, R.T.A

Innes, in Union Observatory Circulars No 19 (1914) notes: "In Dr Dreyer's New Gen. Cat. of Nebulae this is described as a 'cluster of at least 100 stars large and small,' and in Professor S J Bailey's list in Harvard C.O. Annals LX, p 215, as a coarse cluster. But a glance at the Wolf-Palisa Chart No 93 or at any of the photographs referred to above shows that much nebulosity is visible. With the 9-inch refractor the nebula is just visible and it fills the perimeter of the cluster with faint extensions beyond. On the best photographs, the shape is perhaps spiral, but the bright portion forms a thick round ring or disk with a central hole.

Messier 17, the "Horse Shoe" or "Omega" nebula, is about 2.5� South following. The brightest portion of this nebula is a bar of light with a decidedly corkscrew or twisted rope appearance; this can be seen on the photograph in Harvard C.O. Annals, LX, plate III, fig. 32."

Barnard, E.E. (1908)

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

Published comments

Bailey, S.I. (1908)

"cluster, coarse"

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

Remarks, p.218: "A5297 shows stars only. They are said, however, to be involved in faint nebulosity."

Melotte, P.J. (1915)

A catalogue of star clusters shown on Franklin-Adams chart plates. Mem.R.A.S., 60(5), 175-186.

Duncan, J.C. (1920)

Duncan, J. C. (1920) Bright nebulae and star clusters in Sagittarius and Scutum photographed with the 60-inch reflector. Astrophys. J., 51, 4-12.

Doig, P. (1925)

Doig, P. (1925) Notes on the nebulae and clusters in Webb's 'Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes' (Sixth edition, Vol.ii). Part IV. M.N.R.A.S., 36(2), 58.

Vorontsov-Velyaminov, B. (1925/1926)

Vorontsov-Velyaminov, B. "Integral magnitudes of south star clusters", Astron. Nach. 228, 325. Comparing the brightness of the cluster with the extrafocal images of stars, he estimates the magnitudes as 6.03

Trumpler, R.J. (1928)

Trumpler (Lick Obs Bul, Vol 14, No. 420) gives the diameter as 8' and the class as 2 3 mN.

Helwan Obs. Bulletin No 38 (1935)

pB, 20'x20', diffuse nebulosity with many absorp.lanes and vmB stars involved, in a rich field.

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

Ced 159 (NGC 6611)

Position (1900): RA 18 13.2, Dec - 13 49

Star: Cl (Mp=7.3, , SpT=Oe5)

Spectrum of nebula: emission spectrum (observed)

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

Size: 35'x28'

Notes: "NGC 6611 = GC 4400 = h 2006 = M 16 = IC 4703. R. IC 4703 refers to the nebula, which Roberts claimed to have discovered. The cluster was found about 1746 by de Cheseaux (Compare Chapter I p. 13). His brief note does not contain any statement as to nebulosity. However, Messier undoubtedly perceived the nebula in addition to the cluster stars (Compare (260)!) FA 86. WP 93. (30, 85, 88 Pl 57, 93 Pl 34, 114, 194, 234, 260, 365, 366, 383, 578, 589, 615 Pl 23, 630 Pl 6 Pl 7 P1 8, 715, 717, 753). HD stars in the cluster: -13 4932 = HD 168137. -14 4991 = HD 168183. -14 4994 = HD 168207. -13 4925 = HD 168075. -13 4926 = HD 168076."

Sharpless (1959)

A catalogue of H-II regions. Astrophys.J.Suppl.Ser., 4, 257-279.

"M16. Part of I Ser association. Contains cluster NGC 6611"

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 6.5 mag cluster associated with nebulosity.

Modern observations

Whitman, A. (1998)

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

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: "6M; 7' diameter; many 8M and dimmer members; surrounded by faint nebulosity: the "EAGLE" or Burnham's "STAR QUEEN"; much detail visible with N-filter; nebulosity is 20' x 12' extent; easily withstands high-x with N-filter; cluster H19 (Tr-32) 5' diameter is 30' to NW; reference-BCH-III-1783 and VADSS-190."

Ware, Donald J

The Eagle Nebula and Cluster. While photographs of this object highlight the beautiful nebulosity in the region, visually, the open star cluster is the predominant feature. It is about 15' in diameter and separated into two concentrations of stars, one to the northwest, and one to the southeast. I counted about 30-35 stars in both sections. The nebulosity is faintly visible as being attached to the eastern part of the northwestern stellar concentration, and separating the two portions. A UHC filter greatly enhances the view, showing the Eagle pattern clearly and its relation to the cluster."

Steve Coe

Steve Coe, observing with a 13" f/5.6, notes: "(M 16) Open Cluster is bright, large and not rich at 100X. There are several nice chains of stars that form beautiful curved lines, they remind me of the antennae of a butterfly. The nebulosity can be seen without the UHC filter, but it is much better with the UHC. Several dark lanes wind through the nebulosity, including Burnham's "Star Queen" near the center."

Mitsky, Dave (IAAC)

Your skills: Intermediate (some years)

Date/time of observation: 6/18/98 06:05 UT

Location of site: Naylor Observatory http://www.msd.org/obs.htm (Lat 40.1d N, 76.9d W, Elev 570')

Site classification: Exurban

Sky darkness: ~5.0 Limiting magnitude

Seeing: 8 1-10 Seeing Scale (10 best)

Moon presence: None - moon not in sky

Instrument: 12.5" f/6.5 Cave equatorial Newtonian

Magnification: 65x, 121x

Filter(s): O-III

Object(s): M16 (NGC 6611)

Category: Emission nebula.

Constellation: Serpens

Data: mag 6.0 size 35.0' x 28.0'

Position: RA 18:18.8 DEC -13:47


Also known as the Eagle or Star Queen Nebula, M16 is a fairly large nebula and associated open cluster that lies at a distance of 5900 light years. M16 spans about 14 light years and is some 5,500,000 years old. The open cluster consists of approximately 40 to 60 stars. The Eagle Nebula's talons were the subject of one of the Hubble Space Telescope's most famous images.

Only the star cluster could be seen without a nebula filter. M16 appeared as a region of pale luminosity when an O-III filter was used. The dark regions such as the Elephant's Trunk were not visible.


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.: 145

The Eagle Nebula. Observed for only a short time, but was very beautiful. For some reason, I could not find it easily. A

friend finally found it in the 25 and was blown away. Nebulas filter use is unknown. At medium power, the nebula is a

strange shape. Was able to easily see the dark dust lane in the central region. A beautiful object.

Contemporary observations

Auke Slotegraaf

1997 July 7

1997 July 7, Monday, 21:00 - 24:00 Jonkershoek. 11x80's tripod-mounted. Bright milky way patch; rounded triangular shape of nebulosity and star-glimmer. Knot of stars in the northern tip. Look for a long (1.5 deg) thin finger of darkness stretching to the Omega Nebula nearby.


Observing from Stellenbosch, 1983, I saw this cluster in a 2-inch refractor as having about 7 bright stars. It has a roughly capital-A shape; one bright star which is actually a close double -- 20x needs severe averted vision to see, but clearly double at 60x.

1995 May 30

1995-05-30: 11x80.Technopark. 23:00 SAST. Hazy sky. Round nebulous glow, well-edged, large and small stars involved. Looks rather like a current bun.

Magda Streicher

(no date)

Alldays (22.50S, 20.12E, 770m).

12-inch f/10 SCT (76x, 218x, 346x)

Lovely field of nebulosity with a lot of detail. The cloud is defided in two to three sections. The SE section is the largest with a string of stars running W-E embedded in the nebulosity. The norther section is elongated and thinner in a W-E direction. The Eastern end of the nebulosity is been cut into the nebula with a sharp point ended more or less in the middle of the nebula. The Western end been the brightest part of the nebula and is also cut in though smaller section with a tri-angle of stars in the mouth of the cut on the west end. A 7.8 stars is situated right north of the nebula. The eastern end of the nebula is more hazy.

2006 July 01


16-inch f/10 SCT (290x, 463x)

This wonderful nebula was observed with great care and a lot of time. Star hop from the triangle of similar 11 Magnitude stars more or less 6' SW to the curved half moon string of stars, which indicates the middle of the cluster. A double star is just north of the string with a brighter double star to its SW, which dominates the field of view. Around 3' from this center of action towards SE two 9.4 Magnitude stars can be seen with ease a few arc minutes apart. The southern star has a lot of haze around it and with an H Beta filter and high power I was able to see the trunk of the Eagle Nebula. Slightly further SW from this dark finger-like nebula I also spotted a round dark nebula, which mingles well with the haze in the immediate field of view.

Tom Bryant

2010 9 14 21:30:2

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[18h 18m 48s, -13� 47' 0"] The loose cluster only was visible, only the faintest hint of nebulosity.

2008-09-01 21:15:00

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[18h 18m 48s, -13� 47' 0"] This looks like a meer loose open cluster in this light pollution. The wonderful nebulosity is not visible.

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