Cepheus, the King, is an ancient and rather dim constellation, but its position along the northern Milky Way means it harbors more than its share of deep-sky sights including star clusters, nebulae, even the lovely Fireworks galaxy (NGC 6946). But the best field of view in the constellation encompasses three deep-sky sights including a star-forming nebula, star cluster, and an aging red supergiant that’s one of the reddest and most luminous stars in the sky [Read more…] about The Elephant Trunk NebulaShare This:
Recent Astronomy Articles at Cosmic Pursuits
Our planet’s atmosphere, fragile and proportionately thin as the skin of an apple, is not living its best life right now. In my part of the world – western Canada – hundreds of wildfires have filled the air with grey-orange smoke for over a month, and the hot and bone-dry conditions show no sign of letting up. The only star I see these days is an angry red Sun. It’s an ominous sight, but still strangely beautiful as the fine smoke particles strongly scatter blue light out of the line of sight. Others have bigger problems than I, of course, but I do have a long list of astrophotography projects on hold. A good night of stargazing may still be weeks away. Is this the new normal?
The planet Jupiter is always one of the brightest objects in the night sky. It’s brighter than any star, and is only outshone by the planet Venus and the Moon, and, very rarely, by Mars and Mercury. Jupiter reaches a position for optimum viewing in a telescope once every 13 months, roughly, and it makes its latest closest approach to Earth on August 20, 2021 at 0h Universal Time when the planet appears in the extreme eastern part of the constellation Capricornus. A couple of months before and after this date, Jupiter is in perfect position for viewing with a small telescope, or even a pair of binoculars. You can’t miss it: the planet is by far the brightest object in the southeastern sky as night gets underway in the northern hemisphere and nearly overhead in the southern hemisphere. The visible face of Jupiter reveals so many interesting features in a small telescope that the planet is a favorite target for new and experienced stargazers [Read more…] about A Guide to Observing the Planet Jupiter – 2021Share This:
Many casual observers get hooked on amateur astronomy after a first look at Saturn through a telescope. More than a few have looked through my small refractor on a night of good seeing and asked of Saturn, “Is it real?”
Oh, it’s real, all right. And incredibly beautiful… the color, the proportions, the apparent 3D perspective of this grand icy world. It is arguably the finest sight accessible with a small telescope. The planet reaches opposition on August 2, 2021 and will remain bright and large in a telescope over the next few months. Here’s how to find it and see it in a small telescope.
When it comes to galaxies, gravity and Newton’s first law of motion often combine to put the finest earthbound sculptors to shame. Take the galaxies NGC 2936 and NGC 2937, for instance. Here we see an everyday spiral galaxy bent and molded by the gravitational influence of a featureless elliptical companion galaxy into a graceful arc of stars and gas and dust a hundred thousand light years long. Together, the two bear a remarkable resemblance to a mother penguin holding watch over a shimmering egg. It’s one of the most beautiful galaxy pairs in the heavens [Read more…] about Dancing GalaxiesShare This: