M 16

Eagle Nebula

The Eagle Nebula is a nebula in connection with an open star cluster. The Eagle Nebula is famous for the "Pillars of Creation".


recording data

object Messier 16
date of recording
9 August 2016, 30 June 2017, 5 July 2017, 29 July 2017
exposure 10.5 h, H-Alpha: 150x80", OIII: 192x50", SII: 144x80" RGB: 85x55"
telescope Celestron RASA F2.2
focal lenght 620mm
filter Baader f/2 Highspeed 2" H-Alpha, Baader f/2 Highspeed 2" OIII, Baader f/2 Highspeed 2" SII
cameras ZWO ASI1600mmc, Canon EOS 5Dda MKII
guiding 250mm guide scope, MGEN
mount Celestron CGE pro
AstroBin click here

A celebrity

Messier 16 (M16), the famous Eagle Nebula, is an eagle-shaped nebula with a young open cluster of stars in the constellation of Serpent. It was discovered around 1745 by the Swiss astronomer Jean-Philippe Loys de Chéseaux. He described the object as a "cluster of stars between the constellations Ophiuchus, Sagittarius and Antinous (now Scutum)".

The fog itself was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764. Messier described a "bunch of small stars in a faint glow near the tail of the Serpent".


The Eagle Nebula is especially known for the Pillars of Creation region, three large gas columns that Hubble impressively photographed in 1995. Also known as the "Star Queen Nebula", M16 is located at a distance of 7,000 light years from Earth. The Eagle Nebula covers an area of 70 by 55 light years or 30 arc minutes in the sky.


The name comes from the shape of the nebula, which is supposed to resemble an eagle with outstretched wings. The American astronomer Robert Burnham, Jr. introduced the name Star Queen Nebula because the central column of the nebula reminded him of a silhouette of the star queen.


IC 4703, the H-II region surrounding the open cluster, is a diffuse emission nebula, a vast region of active star formation with a visual magnitude of 8, located in the nearest inner spiral of the Milky Way arm from Earth.


In Messier 16 there are several regions with active star formation. These include the famous creation pillars in the central part of the nebula and the Stellar Spire, which is located next to the column structure.

The largest of the three pillars of creation is about 4 light years high. The Stellar Spire, a large tower of gas, is about 9.5 light years high, which corresponds to a length of 90 trillion kilometres.  This is about twice the distance from the Sun to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri.


Messier 16 is best seen in a low-power telescope. 4-inch instruments will resolve about 20 stars against several regions of nebulae. The star cluster is quite easy to find, but the surrounding fog requires extremely good visibility and instruments with large apertures. The Pillars of Creation can only be seen in 12-inch telescopes and larger telescopes.

Baerenstein Observatory

private observatory
Marcel Drechsler






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