Just off the tip of the Northern Cross (or the tail of Cygnus, the Swan) lies the photogenic NGC 7000, an immense star-forming complex embedded in rarefied hydrogen gas set aglow by massive blue-white stars. This emission nebula has an evocative shape that resembles the continent of North America which lends its informal name. Unlike more compact and concentrated nebula like the Swan or Orion Nebulae, the North America Nebula is a challenging object to spot visually. But it’s always a treat to see its faint ethereal glow emerging from the starry background of the northern Milky Way. [Read more…] about The ‘North America’ NebulaShare 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 great amateur astronomer Leslie Peltier once suggested a cure for many of the world’s problems is simply “one gentle dose of starlight to be taken each night just before retiring”. If you feel the need for a little starlight these days, there is no better bang for your buck than looking at galaxies. Northern spring is the perfect time for observing these immense collections of billions of stars, hundreds of which lie within easy reach of a small telescope (thousands if you’re using a camera instead of an eyepiece) [Read more…] about Edge-On Spirals Galaxies in the Northern Spring SkyShare This:
When time is tight and the weather turns cold, I turn to a class of celestial objects that are very forgiving of observing conditions, light pollution, and telescope aperture: double and multiple stars. There are thousands of these objects visible during the year. Many are run-of-the-mill sights. But many more present a lovely appearance in a small telescope, revealing color, brightness contrast, and a jewel-like appearance that appeal to the artistically inclined while also packing plenty of physics and sheer challenge to the observer.
In this instalment of Cosmic Pursuits, I share with you three double and multiple stars in and around the throne of the legendary Ethiopian queen (along with a couple of extraordinary ‘bonus objects’). So grab a small telescope and head out to see them for yourself. The map above shows you where to find these relatively bright star systems and ‘bonus objects’… [Read more…] about Hopping Double Stars in CassiopeiaShare This:
Look to the east of mighty Orion and you’ll see the constellation Monoceros, the Unicorn. While its stars are faint, Monoceros holds a small treasure chest of superb deep-sky sights for backyard stargazers. Perhaps the most striking is the Rosette Nebula, an achingly beautiful blossom of glowing gas and dust where new stars are forming. The Rosette is an immense nebula, some three times larger than the Orion Nebula and three times farther away. As you see in the image above by Terry Hancock, the nebula overlaps the star cluster NGC 2244 which has formed within the nebula and blown a bubble to give us a look inside. While hard to see the Rosette visually, even in large telescopes, the nebula is an excellent photographic target and the cluster is a superb sight [Read more…] about The Rosette NebulaShare This:
I write this in late October. Every night, the sky is four minutes more wintry than it was the night before. For now, the sky is still dominated by the constellations most associated with Autumn, even as the Summer Triangle slides past the meridian and the Pleiades rise in the east.
The constellations of northern autumn, Pegasus and Andromeda, linger well into the winter months and offer many deep sky wonders for observers equipped with a good telescope. One recent autumn evening, as the Pleiades rose in the east, I set about looking for a handful of these sights in my 8-inch Edge HD Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope [Read more…] about Faint Fuzzies in and Around Pegasus and AndromedaShare This: