In the months from late November through early March, in both the northern and southern hemispheres, the famous Pleiades star cluster grabs the attention of experienced and untutored stargazers alike. The little dipper-shaped cluster, which is about the width of your little finger held at arm’s length, presents a spectacular sight in binoculars or small telescope where it transforms from a tiny cluster of half a dozen members to an arresting array of couple of hundred of blue-white stars. The cluster itself is a snap to observe, but at its heart lies a far more challenging object, an ethereal reflection nebula created by starlight reflected by fine grains of stardust in an interstellar cloud that the cluster is passing through. [Read more…] about The Merope NebulaShare This:
Recent Astronomy Articles at Cosmic Pursuits
In early 2020, a team of astronomers announced the discovery of the Radcliffe Wave, an astonishing undulating structure in our part of the galaxy. Spanning nearly 9,000 light years, this structure extends halfway across the sky from Cygnus to Orion and rises about 500 light years above and below the plane of the Milky Way. While it mostly consists of a series of interconnected clouds of dark gas and dust, a few glowing stellar nurseries have emerged along the Radcliffe Wave, many within reach of visual observers and astrophotographers with a small telescope. In my latest article at Sky & Telescope (the cover article of the January 2023 edition), I tour the highlights of the Radcliffe Wave from one end to the other. This is the best time of year to see the entire wave, so grab your telescope and make a plan to head outside to follow the length of this immense interconnected structure. Read a PDF of the article at this link. You can also listen to an interview I did with the good folks at the Actual Astronomy podcast about the Radcliffe Wave at this link.Share This:
Mars approaches a grazing lunar occultation on September 5, 2020. Image courtesy of Delberson Tiago de Souza at Astrobin under the Creative Commons License.
Set a reminder – and hope for clear sky – on the night of December 7-8 as a remarkable event takes place – a full December ‘Cold Moon’ passing in front of Mars just two hours before the planet reaches opposition. The event is visible through parts of western Europe, Canada, and the U.S. except for the eastern seaboard, the southeast, and Alaska. You can see the event without optics, with binoculars, or the telescope of your choice. It will be an astronomical event to remember [Read more…] about The Full Moon Occults Mars at OppositionShare This:
Before the days of sensitive, low-noise digital cameras, amateur and professional astronomers used chemical emulsions on cellulose film or glass plates to record photographic images. But film astrophotography was not for the faint of heart – it took time, patience, and more than a little skill to produce good images of deep-sky objects or the Milky Way. Modern digital cameras now make astrophotography so much easier, of course, so why would anyone use film anymore? [Read more…] about Milky Way Photography on Medium-Format Film – A Q&A With James CormierShare This:
The planet Mars is one of the most interesting planets to observe with a small telescope, but also one of the most difficult. The planet only gets close enough to Earth to give up much detail just once every 780 days (about two years and two months), and when it does make an apparition, it still appears relatively small compared to Jupiter or Saturn. But observing Mars is worth the effort. It’s the only planet to reveal an appreciable amount of surface detail in a small telescope, and it also features occasional surprises such as dust storms and local fogs and cloud banks.
Seeing Mars takes a little practice, however, as well as the right tools for the job. This guide will help you understand what you can see on the surface of Mars, especially during the time before and after the opposition of December 8, 2022. And it will help you get the best view of this remarkable world with a telescope and a few essential accessories [Read more…] about Guide to Observing Mars in 2022Share This: