Beginner Deep Sky Objects – June to August

When you are beginning deep sky astrophotography, it can be overwhelming to choose an object with the massive number of objects out there. The time between June and August presents us with a multitude of objects to pick from.

In this article we will go over my top seven June to August picks for beginners, with a setup with a smaller focal length.

Just like the previous article, there are some rules

  • Rising shortly after dark or at least before midnight – maximize time on it 
  • Doesn’t require a whole lot of focal length. A camera lens or small telescope will work, so even if all you have is a 70-300 kit lens, all of these will work for you!
  • Not going to be setting before dawn – which is why we’re grabbing a lot of eastern target

Lagoon Nebula

Lagoon Nebula
Lagoon Nebula (bottom) taken by me June 2020

Starting off with an object you can even see in Milky Way pictures, is the Lagoon Nebula. It is one of the few nebulae you can see with the naked eye in dark enough skies. An interesting fact: in most Sci-Fi shows, real life objects are usually represented incorrectly. But there was a show that this was on, and correctly named! Can you guess the show?

As I mentioned, it can be seen in Milky way shots, but to get detail, starting with a 135mm lens such as the Rokinon 135mm lens is the best starting point. You can increase focal length all the way up to about 550mm with a crop sensor, or 840mm with a full frame.

How to find: Look for the Teapot in Sagittarius. From the top left of the “handle” of the teapot, go up through the top about the same distance, as between the stars, and you’re on top of it.

Info about the Lagoon Nebula:

  • Distance: 4,077 ly
  • Magnitude: 6.0
  • Object Type: Emission Nebula
  • Constellation: Sagittarius
  • Catalog: M8

North America Nebula

North America Nebula taken Summer 2022

The next object has a lot of versatility, the North America Nebula. The region surrounding the nebula hosts other objects as well, such as the Pelican Nebula.

You can start wide and get the whole region with a 135mm lens. To keep the whole object in one frame, you’ll want to keep your focal length below 550mm.

How to find: The North America Nebula is near the star Deneb in the constellation Cygnus. Near Deneb, look for the stars 56 and 57 Cyg. Look about the same distance for the star 62 Cyg, the nebula is in between 57 and 62.

Info about the North America Nebula:

  • Distance: 2,202 ly
  • Magnitude: 4.0
  • Object Type: Emission Nebula
  • Constellation: Cygnus
  • Catalog: NGC7000

Hercules Cluster

Hercules as shown in Stellarium
M13 as shown in Stellarium

The Hercules Cluster is one of the few Globular Clusters visible to the naked eye under dark enough skies.

Now, this one, you will need the longest focal length you have. Normally, this object is usually captured with long focal lengths of above over 1000mm, but due to the brightness, an argument could be made that you could use a 2x Barlow with a focal length of 550mm.

How to find: Starting at Deneb, draw a line between Deneb and Vega. Now keep that line going until you hit the keystone in Hercules. On the edge opposite from Vega is the cluster, about 1/3rd from the star 44 Her.

Info about the Hercules Cluster:

  • Distance: 22,180 ly
  • Magnitude: 5.8
  • Object Type: Globular Cluster
  • Constellation: Hercules
  • Catalog: M13

Rho Ophiuchi

My image of Rho Ophiuchi taken June 2022

Rho Ophiuchi is one of the most photographed objects this time of year. The main reason for this is due to the features and the colors available, which can create a beautiful picture.

Most commonly, this is taken with a 135mm lens. However, using the “Nifty Fifty” lens, you can include the nearby Blue Horsehead Nebula. Anything more than 135mm, and you’ll need to create a mosaic.

How to find: This one is probably the easiest to find in the whole list. In Scorpius, look for Antares. You’ve found it!

Info about Rho Ophiuchi:

  • Distance: 358 ly
  • Magnitude: 4.63
  • Object Type: Star System/Dark Nebula
  • Constellation: Scorpius and Ophiuchus
  • Catalog: No designation, but M4 is part of the complex

Eagle Nebula

Eagle Nebula taken June 2022

The Eagle Nebula is another popular nebula, primarily due to the famous Hubble Picture of the Pillars of Creation. The pillars are but a small feature of the overall nebula.

For focal length, you can start wide with a 135mm, and with the right framing you can also capture the nearby Omega Nebula. But to start getting detail on the Eagle, you will want to use a small refractor of around 360mm, such as the . You’ll fill the frame at around 700mm before needing to do mosaics.

How to find: If you go back to the teapot of Sagittarius, look above it for Scutum. The bottom stars of Scutum don’t have easy to remember names, but you can look a little to the west of the bottom right star, and there it is!

Info about The Eagle Nebula:

  • Distance: 7,000 ly
  • Magnitude: 6
  • Object Type: Emission Nebula
  • Constellation: Serpens
  • Catalog: M16

Cat’s Paw

Cat’s Paw as seen in Stellarium

The Cat’s Paw Nebula is one of those nebulae that is very apparent as to how it got its name. This one is a little further south, so those in the Southern hemisphere should be able to get this one with ease.

This one does require going into a focal length of at least 300 or more, but you can do a wider shot that includes the nearby Lobster nebula.

How to find: Using the stars Mula and Shaula, draw a line the same distance between the two past Shaula. From there, the Lobster is on the east of the line, Cat’s Paw on the west.

Info about The Cat’s Paw Nebula:

  • Distance: 5,500 ly
  • Magnitude: 10
  • Object Type: Emission Nebula
  • Constellation: Scorpius
  • Catalog: NGC 6334

Veil Nebula

Veil Nebula Mosaic taken Summer 2021

For the final object on this list, we’re going back to the Summer Triangle to the Veil Nebula Complex.

The Veil Nebula Complex offers options. You can start at 135mm and get the whole complex, or go all the way up to 700mm to get individual sections, such as the Eastern Veil, the Western Veil, or Pickering’s Triangle.

How to find: Start at Sadir in Cygnus, then go down to Aljanah. Moving another two degrees further past Aljanah to 57 Cyg, and you’re there!

Info about The Veil Nebula:

  • Distance: 1,470 ly
  • Magnitude: 7
  • Object Type: Supernova Remnant
  • Constellation: Cygnus
  • Catalog: NGC 6960 (Western), NGC 6992 (Eastern)


If you would prefer, you can watch the video below to get a better idea of how to find these targets:


The period between June and August is a rewarding time of year for beginning in Deep Sky Astrophotography. Not only can you get Milky Way shots, but you can zoom in a bit and get any of the objects listed above.

If you missed it and are checking this out earlier in the year, check out the Beginner Deep Sky Objects – March to May article.

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