While not a constellation itself, the Summer Triangle dominates the overhead sky in the northern summer and autumn months and guides stargazers to other stars, constellations, and deep-sky sights. The vertices of the triangle are marked by three bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair, each of which belong to true constellations Lyra, Cygnus, and Aquila, respectively. The image below shows the Summer Triangle rising as seen from mid-northern latitudes at 10 p.m. in mid July. The triangle is big: it spans about two full hand widths held at arm’s length. The triangle can be seen well south of the equator, too, above the northern horizon. Southern stargazers call it the “Northern Triangle” or the “Winter Triangle” [Read more…] about Touring the Summer TriangleShare This:
Deep Sky Observing
Articles about how to understand, find, and see celestial objects including stars, galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters with binoculars, telescopes, and the naked eye.
Thanks to gravity, most galaxies clump together in groups or clusters, so a neighboring galaxy is usually never far away. But the galaxy NGC 6503 has found itself in a lonely position, perched at the edge of a strangely empty patch of space called the Local Void. The galaxy is near enough and bright enough to spot with a small telescope in the northern constellation Draco, the Dragon [Read more…] about NGC 6503, the Lost-in-Space GalaxyShare This:
Today, let’s look at the spiral galaxy M83, a lovely cosmic lotus blossom and one of the showpieces in the southern deep sky.
Barely visible from northern latitudes, M83 lies roughly 15 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra. It’s one of the 25 brightest galaxies in the sky, and one of the closest and brightest barred spiral galaxies. At magnitude 7.6, it’s easily visible with binoculars and small telescopes about 18° due south of the bright star Spica, in Virgo, and just north of the star Menkent in the constellation Centaurus [Read more…] about The Southern Pinwheel – M83Share This:
Northern stargazers in spring look out of the plane of the Milky Way in the night sky before midnight, so there are few bright stars and star clusters visible, and even fewer bright nebula. But there is a little gem under the bowl of the Big Dipper, the famous Owl Nebula, also known as M97. A young planetary nebula, M97 is a speeding cloud of glowing gas ejected by a small dying star. In a small telescope under dark sky, the nebula resembles the eyes of wise old barn owl gazing out of the interstellar darkness [Read more…] about The Owl NebulaShare This:
While it may take a little practise to see the subtle differences in each of these balls of ancient stars, and despite claims of many beginning stargazers, all globular clusters do not look the same. The images above show four of the brightest globular clusters visible in a telescope this time of year. Each has a distinctive appearance, pattern, and brightness gradient. All images were taken with the same exposure and filter and with the same 6″ RC telescope so you can get an idea of their comparative appearance [Read more…] about From the Observer’s Log: Four Great GlobsShare This: