Along the path of the zodiac, just east and a little north of Sagittarius, lies the smile-shaped constellation Capricornus. After the gaudy splendors of Sagittarius and other northern summer constellations, Capricornus isn’t much to look at. It’s the smallest constellation of the zodiac and the second-faintest after Cancer. It has just two stars brighter than 4th magnitude, so it’s a challenge to see this constellation in the city. But Capricornus offers several splendid alignments of stars that make for excellent viewing with a pair of binoculars on nights in August through October. Let’s have a look… [Read more…] about A Stroll Through the Stars of CapricornShare 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.
Last week, you began a tour of some of the finer sights in and around the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius. This week, let’s look slightly westward to see another handful of splendid sights along the Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way. The tour follows the objects in the white font in the above image. Those in blue font were covered in last week’s tour.
The base of operations for this tour is the grand constellation Scorpius, the Scorpion. The long, winding constellation is one of the few that obviously resembles its namesake. The claws of the fearsome celestial arachnid face westward towards the relatively sparse star fields of the constellation Libra. At the heart of the scorpion lies the bright red-orange supergiant star Antares. And to the east lies the winding tail that passes through increasingly rich star fields towards the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy [Read more…] about Touring the Heart of the Milky Way – Part 2Share This:
The rich and gauzy star fields along the Milky Way towards the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius constitute what’s arguably the most beautiful part of the night sky. Northern observers can see these constellations well over the southern horizon in the mid-to-late evening hours in August and September, while southern-hemisphere observers see this glorious region nearly overhead. Aim binoculars or a telescope towards this part of the sky, or simply gaze in this direction on a dark night with your unaided eyes, and you will see something good. The trick is figuring out which sight is which. To help you sort it all out, here’s a step-by-step tour of a small selection of the more prominent sights of the deep sky towards the center of the Milky Way [Read more…] about Touring the Heart of the Milky Way – Part 1Share This:
Striking in photographs and picturesque in a telescope, the Sombrero galaxy offers a fine, if unusual, example of an edge-on spiral galaxy. This is a lovely object, with a huge and brilliant central galactic bulge likely caused by the machinations of a massive black hole, and an inky-dark dust lane that resembles the brim of the traditional Mexican hat that lends its name to this distant island universe [Read more…] about The Sombrero GalaxyShare This:
Let’s take a look at the ancient constellation Coma Berenices, a faint group of stars tucked under the handle of the Dipper halfway between the stars Arcturus and Denebola in Leo’s hindquarters. There is something for everyone here: history and legend, a beautiful naked-eye star cluster that invites careful inspection, and dozens of galaxies to explore with a modest telescope. And armchair astronomers can contemplate the immensely distant Coma Cluster of Galaxies, some 300 million light years away, that first yielded evidence for the mysterious dark matter that makes up a good portion of the universe [Read more…] about Touring Queen Berenice’s HairShare This: