Photo by Pittendreigh
HOW TO FIND IT:
Find M16 by looking for an open cluster that is north of the chain of objects that include M24, M18 and M17. Now look north of M18 and you will find M17.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Messier noted only a weak light among the stars of M18, but there is a spectacular nebula that shows up well in photographs. A nebula filter brings it well in view.
M17 is an excellent nebula. Messier saw in it a spindle. Some see a swan. I have seen it appear as a check, the letter "V" or a number "2". William Herschel saw the last letter of the Greek alphabet -- W -- giving M17 its nickname, the Omega Nebula.