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:
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.
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:
It had been two years since I’d had a good look at the summer Milky Way. At my latitude, it doesn’t get dark enough for visual stargazing from late May to late July, and clouds, smoke, moonlight, and the vicissitudes of life disposed of the remaining late summer nights. But this week delivered what I’ve long awaited – a promising forecast of two nights with a crystal-clear atmosphere and no moon. The excuses were over – it was time to drive an hour west of town to my favorite dark-sky site with a telescope, a bag of eyepieces, and a star map in the back seat. If I was going to see the Milky Way before winter comes, it was now or never.
If you’re looking for something good to see in the sky this month, my recent article at Sky & Telescope magazine takes you on a tour of the sights in and around the asterism known as Taurus Poniatowski. A little offshoot of the constellation Ophiuchus, Taurus Poniatowski spans a patch of sky about the size of your hand held at arm’s length, but it contains all sorts of fascinating deep-sky sights from double stars to open clusters, and even a galaxy (unusual in this part of the sky). Grab some binoculars and your favorite telescope, and head outside to see this fascinating little star group.
At a distance of about 11 million light years, the Messier 81 (M81) galaxy group lies nearly overhead in the late northern spring and early summer and presents a handful of intriguing targets for backyard stargazers. This aggregation of gravitationally bound galaxies lies mostly in Ursa Major with some spillover into Camelopardalis. It’s one of the nearest galaxy groups to our own, and it contains some 40 galaxies and a total of about a trillion stars [Read more…] about Touring the M81 Galaxy GroupShare This: