The constellation Canis Majoris, the ‘Big Dog’, is home to many fine open clusters of blue-white stars along the stubby Orion Arm of the Milky Way. There are some real gems here, including the modest but delightful open star cluster NGC 2362, a group that hosts some of the youngest-known stars. Centered on the bright star τ (tau) Canis Majoris, this cluster, in a telescope, looks like a large diamond set among many smaller blue-white gems [Read more…] about A Little Cluster in the Big DogShare This:
Nearly overhead in the after-dinner hours of a northern winter night, the rich constellation Perseus offers even a modestly-equipped amateur astronomer many hours of pleasant stargazing. Named after the great hero of Greek mythology, Perseus finds itself in the starry plane of the Milky Way Galaxy where thousands of brilliant blue-white stars have coalesced in the the last few tens of millions of years. Near the star Mirfak, or α (alpha) Persei, the brightest star in Perseus, lies a particularly dazzling collection of associated blue-white stars that make up a loose cluster often called the “Attendants of Mirfak”. This little group is a beautiful sight in binoculars [Read more…] about The Attendants of MirfakShare This:
Visible nearly overhead in the northern hemisphere, the bright constellation Auriga makes for pleasant viewing this time of year. The constellation, which looks like a big hexagon about 15° across, sits in a fine star field along the northern Milky Way directly opposite the much richer sky near the galactic center in Sagittarius. Auriga also holds the dazzling star Capella, the most northerly first-magnitude star in the skies. The constellation is also visible above the northern horizon from most populated parts of the southern hemisphere. Whether you have a pair of binoculars or a small telescope, make an appointment to examine the three finest open star clusters of Auriga– M36, M37, and M38– along with a smiling asterism embedded in the stream of the Milky Way [Read more…] about Three Clusters and a Cheshire CatShare This:
In the late days of northern summer, the constellation Cygnus lies nearly overhead in the mid-evening hours. A long, conspicuous constellation, Cygnus stretches along the diffuse arc of the Milky Way and is packed full of lovely deep-sky objects for stargazers of all skill levels.
Cygnus is an ancient star group and goes back at least 2,000 years. In Greek legend, Cygnus was a friend of Phaeton, the son of Helios, the Sun god. Phaeton met his demise while foolishly trying to drive his father’s sun-chariot across the sky. When Phaeton fell into the river Eridanus, Cygnus begged Zeus to turn him into a swan so he could fly down to retrieve his friend’s body. In doing so, however, he gave up his immortality. Zeus was touched by the selfless act of Cygnus in honoring his friend, so he cast the swan in a place of honor in the night sky [Read more…] about Touring the Backbone of Cygnus, the SwanShare This:
As befits a large constellation at the edge of the Milky Way, Ophiuchus is packed with deep-sky sights for observers with small and large telescopes. Open and globular star clusters abound here, along with many fine double stars. Let’s have a short tour of a handful of the highlights of the constellation, moving from easy objects to more difficult sights [Read more…] about Touring Clusters and Stars in OphiuchusShare This: