View enlargements


M24 is a patch of Milky Way, a clumping of stars within our own galaxy and easily visible with the unaided eye. Within it is the tiny open cluster NGC6603. At one time it was thought that NGC6603 was the real M24, however Messier's description quite clearly refers to something much larger and more impressive than NGC6603. The two photographs show a close up of the centre of the cluster, and a montage that illustrates the extent of the object. NGC6603 is the tiny cluster clearly visible in the close up photograph top centre above one of the bright stars. In the montage it is towards the top left but so small it is hard to see. Given Messier's optics, it is quite possible that he could not see the cluster through his telescope. On the far opposite side of M24 is the tiny planetary nebula NGC6567. A real observational challenge as even in a photograph it could be a star.