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:
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:
Orion is perhaps the most famous of the 88 constellations in the night sky, and it’s likely the easiest to find for stargazers all over the world. And unlike most constellations, Orion looks like its legendary namesake: a mighty hunter with a shield, a raised arm, and a sword hanging from his star-jeweled belt. The constellation harbors some dazzling sights including what may be the most beautiful object in the night sky for a small telescope, the famous Orion Nebula, a bright blister in the nearest star-forming region to our solar system. In this little tour, we’ll have a look at some lesser-known sights in the constellation Orion north of the three bright stars of Orion’s Belt [Read more…] about Orion, Above the BeltShare This:
When time is tight and the weather turns cold, and I grow despondent at the light-polluted skies under which I find myself, I turn to a class of celestial objects that are very forgiving of observing conditions 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 installment 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:
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: