Nearly overhead in the mid-evening hours of northern spring (and low over the northern horizon in the southern hemisphere), the constellation Cancer is the faintest of the twelve constellations of the zodiac. Many casual stargazers pass it by when looking from bright Gemini to the striking group Leo to the east. In city skies, the constellation is hard to see at all. Despite its inconspicuousness, there are some excellent sights in Cancer within reach of a telescope, including the superb star cluster M44, the Beehive Cluster, and the intriguing M67, one of the oldest known open star clusters. [Read more…] about The Star Clusters of CancerShare This:
Recent Astronomy Articles at Cosmic Pursuits
The Pleiades star cluster in the constellation Taurus is one of a handful of objects in the heavens that never fail to amaze and inspire even the most experienced observers. As beautiful in an inexpensive pair of binoculars as in images from big professional telescopes, this star cluster presents visual observers an especially lovely sight with stars of an unearthly blue ensconced amid a faint frost of nebulosity. If there were more objects like it in the night sky, there would be a lot more amateur astronomers in the world [Read more…] about The Many Names of the PleiadesShare This:
In this month’s sky tour, we grab our optics and tour of a few of the deep-sky highlights of the constellation Auriga, the Charioteer. Auriga lies along the relatively rich path of the northern Milky Way. And while it’s not Sagittarius, to be sure, the constellation has an eclectic selection of open clusters, nebulae, and interesting stars. Southern-hemisphere stargazers can also spot the constellation over the northern horizon in December through February [Read more…] about Ambling Through AurigaShare This:
If you’re looking for something good to see in the northern-hemisphere winter sky, my recent article at Sky & Telescope magazine will give you plenty of ideas. From the star clusters of Perseus down to the rich fields of Canis Major and Puppis, this tour includes a couple of dozen deep-sky sights and collections of sights that look better in a small telescope than in a big one.
And, in the video below, I walk through the article with Dr. Frank Timmes of the University of Arizona as part of the American Astronomical Society’s video series. Take some ideas from this article, dress warmly, and head outside your your scope!
Comet Leonard (C/2021 A1) has been putting on quite a show, at least for astrophotographers, low over the southern horizon late in December through early January. The faint tail has grown to an immense length and clearly appears to be breaking into pieces as this spectacular image reveals. In early January it remains an elusive object and one better positioned for southern-hemisphere observers.
But if you haven’t managed to see it, you can still enjoy plenty of online images. One of the most spectacular was captured by the expert imagers Terry Hancock and Tom Masterson as the comet passed the globular cluster Messier 3 in Canes Venatici in the early-morning sky on December 3. As they processed this once-in-a-lifetime image, they discovered a pleasant surprise – a meteor trail blazed through the field of view! Here you see the mesmerizing yellow-orange glow of the meteor trail left by sulfur and iron atoms left in the trail of the burnt-up meteor. The image was captured with a QHY367 Pro C one-shot color CMOS camera and a Takahashi E180 Astrograph using the System 4a telescope at Grand Mesa Observatory.
Bob King has a recent update and more images of the comet at the Sky & Telescope website.Share This: