This is a star cluster in Scorpius called NGC 6124 – it doesn’t have a name, to the best of my knowledge. But a good one might be the “Dark River Cluster.”
I’ve shot lots of stuff along the Milky Way on my various trips to the southern hemisphere, but this field was a pleasant new surprise. While I had photographed this star cluster before, previous portraits had been extreme closeups. I had not shot it with a wide field like this.
The field here takes in about the same area of sky as binoculars. One of my projects on this current trip to Chile has been to shoot binocular fields like this. And it’s a good one. The cluster is a little off the beaten track in Scorpius and tends to be ignored. But its position entangled with lanes of dark nebulosity makes it a wonderful contrast of stars and darkness.
The dark lanes are obscuring dust in the foreground, hiding the light of distant stars in the Milky Way. The cluster itself is about 18,000 light years away, quite a distance for a star cluster, and putting it a good portion of the way toward the centre of the Galaxy.
For this shot I used the Canon 7D camera and 135mm telephoto, for a stack of six 2-minute exposures at ISO 800 and f/2.8.
– Alan, May 3, 2011 / Image © 2011 Alan Dyer