The Pleiades star cluster in the constellation Taurus is one of a handful of objects in the heavens that never fail to amaze and inspire even the most experienced observers. As beautiful in an inexpensive pair of binoculars as in images from big professional telescopes, this star cluster presents visual observers an especially lovely sight with stars of an unearthly blue ensconced amid a faint frost of nebulosity. If there were more objects like it in the night sky, there would be a lot more amateur astronomers in the world [Read more…] about The Many Names of the PleiadesShare This:
It’s the second-closest star cluster to Earth, and it appears so large that many new stargazers don’t even know it’s a true star cluster. But the Hyades, which make up the V-shaped head of the constellation Taurus, the Bull, is a resplendent collection of young, mostly blue-white stars that are lovely to the unaided eye and a wonder to behold in a pair of binoculars.
Often overshadowed by the smaller and more famous and apparently smaller Pleiades to the west, the Hyades are visible high in the northern sky this time of year. They’re visible from the southern hemisphere, too, perhaps 20° above the northern horizon just after sunset in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. An easy way to spot the Hyades? Follow a line from Orion’s Belt to the northwest until you see the little V with the bright orange star Aldebaran at one apex and keep going to get to the Pleiades. Follow Orion’s Belt in the other direction and you’ll find the bright blue-white star Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. The image below shows you what to look for [Read more…] about The Hyades Star ClusterShare This:
Take any three stars and they’ll form some kind of triangle. But there is only one constellation Triangulum. It’s a small but ancient star group surrounded by the larger constellations Andromeda to the north and west, Pisces to the southwest, Aries to the south, and Perseus to the northeast. While modest, Triangulum hosts many fine sights for stargazers on a northern autumn (or southern spring) evening. Look for it about 10º due south of the star Almaak (γ Andromedae) and just northeast of Aries [Read more…] about A Trek Through TriangulumShare This:
We turn our gaze to the southern reaches of the constellation Puppis, south and east of the bright star Sirius and Canis Major, to examine two stunning star groups in a rich field of the Milky Way.
The first stop is the star cluster NGC 2477. Discovered by Nicolas de Lacaille (the ‘father of southern astronomy’) in 1752, this is a glorious star cluster, bright enough to be visible without optics from southern latitudes. It’s a fantastic binocular object, but it’s best viewed at low-power with a small telescope where it fits in the same field of view as an adjacent star cluster, NGC 2451. At a distance of 3,700 light years, NGC 2477 is one of the richest and densest of open star clusters and looks a little like the loose globular cluster M71 in the constellation Sagitta. The cluster has an impressive 1,900 members and spans about 37 light years. It’s also an ancient cluster, about 1 billion years old, and likely has lost many members since its birth to gravitational perturbations from other stars and star clusters [Read more…] about NGC 2477 – The Electric Guitar ClusterShare 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: