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:
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.
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!
“Out on the lawn I lie in bed, Vega conspicuous overhead…” -W.H. Auden
I see plenty of stars in my line of work, and I’ve yet to see one I don’t like. But if had to choose a favorite, it would be the dazzling star Vega, the jewel of the tiny constellation Lyra, the Lyre. Intensely bright and blue-white in color, Vega conjurs memories of pleasant summer evenings spent stargazing and offers astronomers a remote stellar laboratory to help understand how stars evolve [Read more…] about Contemplating the “Harp Star”Share This: