Let’s follow last week’s sky tour with a pair of objects where low power is so essential that without it, you might miss them entirely. The first is the open cluster IC 4665, which lies a degree or two north of the star Beta Ophiuchi (Cebalrai). The cluster was “discovered” by astronomer after astronomer, but it didn’t make enough of an impression on anyone to stick around in the astronomical consciousness until it was finally added to the Index Catalog in 1908. In my little telescope at 18x I see a very scattered group of twenty or so easily seen stars spreading across a degree or more of sky. Try as I might, I could not imagine a compelling picture in this random assortment of star dots. Surrounding the most nearly crowded part of the cluster are a few more isolated pairs and individual stars that give the impression of being cluster members. This might be a better object for binoculars than for any telescope. [Read more…] about A Low-Power Romp in the Late-Summer SkyShare This:
Recent Astronomy Articles at Cosmic Pursuits
The Rosetta spacecraft made its final maneuver around the Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67p) in 2016 and made a controlled hard landing. Rosetta had accompanied the comet for more than 2 years, measured valuable scientific data, brought a lander on to the comet’s surface and took vast numbers of pictures.
In 2017 the European Space Agency released over 400,000 images from the Rosetta mission. Based on these images, motion designer Christian Stangl and composer Wolfgang Stangl worked together to create this short (but quite astonishing) film.
The sequences are digitally enhanced real-footage from the probe.
Watch the beauty of an active alien body, far out in the dephts of our solar system.Share This:
In my previous sky tour, I talked up the virtues of observing deep sky objects using fairly high magnifications with a reasonably big 8-inch f/10 telescope. This time around, let’s veer to the opposite extreme and take a tour of a series of celestial objects that are best seen using small telescopes, low magnifications, and wide fields of view.
Cygnus, the Swan, which is as emblematic of northern-hemisphere summer as any other constellation, holds two of the best examples of wide-field objects which are visible nearly overhead in late northern summer, and low over the northern horizon for southern-hemisphere observers [Read more…] about Deep Sky Tour: Nebulae in CygnusShare This:
It’s a question that inevitably arises in conversations about the cosmos: does life exist elsewhere in the universe?
For those who hope the answer is “yes”, the harvest of exoplanets by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope and other telescopes over the past decade has been hugely encouraging. As of mid 2019, in the small slice of sky under its exacting gaze, analysis of Kepler’s measurements found more than two thousand extrasolar planets, and all telescopes have confirmed some 3,700 exoplanets. Extrapolating these results, astronomers estimate our Milky Way galaxy alone might hold some 10 billion planets that may have the temperature and composition to harbor habitable life. With that much real estate, many believe that complex or even intelligent life must have formed on at least some of these? [Read more…] about Is the Universe Too Dangerous for Life?Share This:
Second only to the rings of Saturn, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (GRS) is probably the most iconic planetary feature in the solar system. Unlike the rings, which aren’t going away any time soon, recent observations of an apparent unraveling of the GRS suggest big changes in this iconic feature, if not its impending demise [Read more…] about The Disappearing Great Red SpotShare This: