Of the many deep-sky sights in the constellation Cygnus along the rich band of the northern Milky Way, the Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888) isn’t the biggest or brightest, but it still finds its place on the target list of many astrophotographers and visual observers. This shimmering and intricate arc of glowing gas presents a rare example of a massive star in its end stages as it ejects mass at a furious rate on its way to a violent demise as a supernova.
Imagine a young stargazer living at a latitude of 42 degrees north.
Polaris, the fabled North Star, shines far above the northern horizon. Around it wheel the circumpolar constellations of Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, Draco, and Cepheus, ancient landmarks of the northern sky.
In the south, the tail of Scorpius brushes low along the horizon for a few brief months of Summer. Those stars are among the most southerly he can see. But from his star maps, the young stargazer knows that farther south lie some of the greatest wonders of the entire celestial sphere, all the way down to the obscure South Celestial Pole. Yet the poor lad can never see them. The obstinate bulk of the spherical Earth hides them forever [Read more…] about A Northern Observer Discovers the Southern SkiesShare This:
Like the drift of the continents or the erosion of great mountain ranges on Earth, the motion of the stars across the sky is almost imperceptibly small over the paltry span of a human lifetime. But in this quite astonishing video made with data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Gaia spacecraft, which compresses 5 million years of star motion into a few minutes, you can see more than 2 million stars move across the sky like grains of pollen floating in a breeze. It is mesmerizing (and unexpectedly calming) [Read more…] about Moving StarsShare This:
High in the northeast sky, Almaak, the third-brightest star in the constellation Andromeda, is one of the most beautiful double stars in the sky. It’s a snap to find and reveals its full splendor in even the smallest of telescopes [Read more…] about The Colorful Double Star Almaak in AndromedaShare This:
When 18th-century composer William Herschel grew restless with his life as a professional musician, he turned to the new science of astronomy for inspiration and challenge. Like most new stargazers, Herschel began by reading popular works of astronomy, learning the names of the stars and constellations, and inspecting the heavens with telescopes made with small glass lenses that collected the feeble light from distant stars [Read more…] about Book Excerpt: The Armchair Astronomer, Volume 1Share This: