A celestial cloud of swirling gases.

See Messier 8, the Lagoon Nebula

The Lagoon – aka M8 – is the largest and brightest nebula, or cloud in space, in the vicinity of the Teapot asterism in the constellation Sagittarius.

A large, 3-lobed cloud in space.

See Messier 20, the Trifid Nebula

The Trifid is another famous binocular object, visible in the direction toward the galaxy’s center. Its name means “divided into three lobes.” If you view this nebula through a telescope, you’ll see why.

Andromeda galaxy, closest large spiral

The Andromeda galaxy is the closest big galaxy to our Milky Way. At 2.5 million light-years, it’s the most distant thing you can see with the eye alone. The moon is waning. It’s the right time of year. Time to start looking! 

Dark Rift in the Milky Way

Standing under a dark sky in late July or August? Look up! You’ll notice a long, dark lane dividing the bright Milky Way. This Dark Rift is a place where new stars are forming.

Find M4 near the Scorpion’s Heart

If you’ve never found a deep-sky object on your own before, M4 – a globular star cluster, one of the nearest to our solar system – is a grand place to start. It’s near the bright red star Antares in the easy-to-spot constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. To spot it, you’ll need a dark sky.

M17 is the Omega Nebula

The Omega Nebula – M17 – is visible through binoculars and glorious in a low power telescope. It’s one of our galaxy’s vast star-forming regions. How to find it.

What appears to be a densely populated star field with a few galaxies visible.

The Coma Cluster of galaxies

The Coma Cluster is one of the richest galaxy clusters known. How many suns and how many worlds might be located in this direction of space?

The spectacular Large Magellanic Cloud

The Large Magellanic Cloud, which is visible to the unaided human eye, might look like a small, faint bit of the Milky Way that’s broken off. But really it’s a separate small galaxy, thought to be orbiting our larger Milky Way.

Messier 33: 2nd-closest spiral galaxy

The Triangulum galaxy, aka Messier 33, is 2.7 million light-years away, and the 3rd-largest member of our Local Group, after the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies.

Pleiades star cluster, aka Seven Sisters

The Pleiades star cluster – also known as the Seven Sisters, or M45 – is visible from virtually every part of the globe. It looks like a tiny misty dipper of stars.

M5, your new favorite globular cluster

Sure, M13, the Great Hercules cluster is wonderful. But some amateur astronomers say this cluster, M5, is even better. How to find it in your sky.

Meet M13, the Great Cluster in Hercules

Many stargazers call it the finest globular cluster in the northern half of the heavens. It’s M13, also known as the Great Cluster in Hercules.

The Beehive: 1,000 stars in Cancer

On a dark night, look for it as a smudge of light, with 3 times the moon’s diameter. It’s really a wondrous cluster of stars called the Beehive, or M44.

Orion Nebula is a place where new stars are being born

Everything you need to know about the Orion Nebula. How to find it in your sky tonight. Plus … the science of this star factory in space.

Small Magellanic Cloud orbits Milky Way

You need to be in Earth’s Southern Hemisphere to see the Small Magellanic Cloud. It looks like a luminous cloud, but it’s really a dwarf galaxy, orbiting our Milky Way.

Meet the Double Cluster in Perseus

The Double Cluster in the constellation Perseus is a breathtaking pair of star clusters, each containing supergiant suns. How to find it in your sky.

Awesome beauty of the Eagle Nebula

The Eagle Nebula – aka Messier 16 or M16 – is home to several famous structures, including the Pillars of Creation and the Stellar Spire.

M6 and M7 in the Scorpion’s Tail

If you have a dark sky, look for them. They may well be the finest star clusters visible at this time of year.

Giant star cluster Omega Centauri

All globular star clusters are impressive, but Omega Centauri’s in a class by itself. Sparkling with 10 million stars, it’s the Milky Way’s largest globular.

Crab Nebula

Look for the Crab Nebula

The Crab Nebula, about 6,500 light years from Earth, is the scattered fragments of a supernova, or exploding star, observed by earthly skywatchers in the year 1054.