No matter how many times I have looked at the Swan (M17), this nebula is a delight to observe. I have studied it with different scopes, binoculars, and astro-video tools on scopes. In the context of the local star field in a binocular to the dashing and flagrant color with astro video, the object is magnificent. When I see it, I think start thinking of the scriptures about the heavens, which are often found as declarative announcements of praise. These are appropriate for the heavens, and those that recorded the words had never seen optics.
The sketch below is a simple one because it was done rapidly. My objective was not the detailed structure of the gas clouds, but the general shape and color of the object. In practical terms, I was also tired after chasing edge-on galaxies, it was late, but I did not want to stop without a quick look at M17 using a color astro video camera. The colors are over simplified in the sketch and they are not entirely correct. So when you look over the sketch, realize it is an UNDERSTATEMENT of it’s dynamic color and structure. In closing, I want to echo the sentiment of 3 verses of Psalm 150:
“Praise God in his sanctuary, praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness….Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
Note: this link (http://christworksministries.org/inspiration_swan) takes you to another sketch of the Swan that I did in 2008. The story has a different theme but the sketch was a bit more careful than the one in this blog. If you care to compare, feel free.
Note on the object shape and name: If the reader is not familiar with the object, it has several names. The Swan is one of them. You can see it if you look at the sketch and imagine the central white/flaming pink dense area that goes from left to right and slightly ‘uphill’ is the base of the “swan” from tail to breast. The white/pink arc on the right end that extends downward and looks like a hook would be the curved neck. In a small telescope, you can also see the same things minus the color and detail. The nebulosity actually extends some distance, but without astro video or photographic work, the extent is pretty hard to see. I captured a little of the extent, but I deliberately made the astro video less sensitive so I would stay focused on the central section.