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Bringing the Universe to Your Classroom!

Showing posts with label ring nebula. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ring nebula. Show all posts

Saturday, June 1, 2019

What's In The Sky - June 2019

Get ready for summer stargazing! With the weather warming up, June is a great time of year to enjoy relaxing evenings under starry skies with your telescope or astronomy binoculars. Here are a few of Orion Telescopes and Binoculars top picks for June 2019 stargazing:

Jupiter at Opposition

Jupiter shines brightly in the constellation Ophiuchus during June and will be at opposition to the Sun on June 10. Around the same time is also its closest approach to Earth, making it an ideal time for observation. Use a SkyQuest XT6 PLUS Dobsonian along with the 10mm Plossl eyepiece and Shorty 2x Barlow lens that come with it to get views of the largest planet in our solar system at 240x magnification! Or, pair it with the Orion StarShoot 1.3mp Solar System V Imaging Camera for an affordable planetary imaging system!

M13 - Great Globular Cluster in Hercules imaged on ATEO-1 by Insight Observatory.
M13 - Great Globular Cluster in Hercules imaged on ATEO-1 by Insight Observatory.

Summer is Globular Season!

Globular star clusters are densely packed balls of stars that are concentrated towards the center of the Milky Way. June skies offer some of the finest globular cluster viewing opportunities. While you can detect most globular clusters in 50mm or larger binoculars, a moderate to high-power eyepiece in a 6" or larger telescope offers the best chance to resolve individual stars. In the constellation Hercules, look for M92 and the “Great Cluster” M13. In Scorpius, look for M4 and M80. The constellation Ophiuchus is home to six globulars – M10, M12, M14, M107, M9, and M19. Can you spot them all?

The Virgo Cluster

A treasure trove of galaxies can be explored if you point your 6” or larger telescope toward the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. The Event Horizon radio telescope array released the first image of a black hole in April, of the supermassive black hole in M87. While the black hole might need an Earth-sized radio telescope array to resolve it, the galaxy itself can be viewed with more affordable equipment. Aim your telescope at M87 in the constellation Virgo and start scanning the surrounding night sky. How many galaxies can you see?

Summertime Star Party

Take advantage of the New Moon on June 3rd and the galaxies and globular clusters visible to put on a star party! Not only will the dark skies of the moonless night provide great opportunities to see fainter objects more clearly, but the warm June weather will make it easy to enjoy starry sights all night long with friends and family.

Swirling Spirals

Around 10pm in mid-June, two glorious, face-on spiral galaxies M51 and M101 will both be in a great position for viewing and imaging. Look for M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, to the southwest of the star Alkaid at the end of the Big Dipper's "handle". Scan the sky to the northeast of Alkaid to find M101, the Pinwheel Galaxy. Under very dark skies, these distant galaxies can barely be detected in smaller telescopes, but a 10" or larger reflector will reveal much more impressive views. If you're viewing from an especially dark location, try to resolve the delicate spiral arms of M51 in a 10" or larger telescope.

M101, M27, and M51 imaged on ATEO-1 by Mr Daniels 8th-Grade Students from the Plymouth Community Intermediate School, Plymouth, MA.
M101, M27, and M51 imaged on ATEO-1 by Mr Daniels 8th-Grade Students from the Plymouth Community Intermediate School, Plymouth, MA.

Gems of the Summer Triangle By 10pm in mid-northern latitudes, the Summer Triangle, comprising beacon stars Vega (in Lyra), Deneb (in Cygnus), and Altair (in Aquila), will be fully visible above the horizon. Several celestial gems lie within its confines, including the Ring Nebula (M57), the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), open star cluster M29, and the visually challenging Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888). To catch a glimpse of the elusive Crescent, you'll almost certainly need an Orion Oxygen-III Filter in a larger telescope.

Summer Sky Challenge Discovered in 1825 by the German astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve, NGC 6572 is bright enough to be seen in a humble 60mm refractor telescope from a dark sky site; but it is very, very small! At only 8 arc-seconds in size, it takes a lot of magnification to distinguish this from a star. The easiest way to find it is to look in the target area for a green star. NGC 6572 is one of the most intensely colored objects in the night sky. Some say this is green, some say it is blue; what do you think?

All objects described above can easily be seen with the suggested equipment from a dark sky site, a viewing location some distance away from city lights where light pollution and when bright moonlight does not overpower the stars.
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Saturday, September 8, 2018

What's In the Sky - September 2018

September nights are full of wonderful treats for amateur astronomers to enjoy with binoculars and telescopes. See some of Orion Telescopes and Binoculars top September stargazing suggestions below:

Spiral Galaxies

The fall stargazing season kicks off in September with wonderfully placed spiral galaxies M31 in Andromeda, M33 in Triangulum, and M74 in Pisces. Use a big telescope to see these distant galaxies.

The Northern Milky Way

Early in the month, around 9 PM, the "Summer Triangle" of three bright stars Vega, Deneb and Altair will be nearly overhead. In the northernmost portion of the Summer Triangle, you'll see a bright portion of the northern Milky Way. Point a telescope there and you'll discover that the fuzzy outlines of the Milky Way will resolve into vast fields of stars to explore.

New Moon

For the best conditions to see the galaxies and clusters described above, plan a stargazing session for the night of September 9th, when the New Moon will provide dark skies. This is the best night of the month to observe the night sky since light from stars and faint deep sky objects won't have to compete with bright moonlight.

Three Globular Star Clusters

Off the western side of the constellation Pegasus, three globular star clusters almost line up in a row from north to south in September skies. These globular clusters are, from north to south, M15 in Pegasus, M2 in Aquarius and M30 in Capricorn. From a dark sky site, you can easily find all of them in 50mm or larger binoculars.

Planetary Nebulas in the Summer Triangle

Use a star chart and see how many of these planetary nebulas you can find in September: the famous Ring Nebula (M57) in the constellation Lyra; the Dumbbell Nebula (M27) in Vulpecula; and the "Blinking Planetary," NGC 6826 in Cygnus. Not far outside the western boundary of the Summer Triangle is a small, but intensely colorful planetary nebula, NGC 6572. All these can be seen in a 6" or larger telescope. Enhance your views of these distant clouds of dust and gas with an Oxygen-III filter.

The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31) - Imaged by Insight Observatory on ATEO-1
The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31) - Imaged by Insight Observatory on ATEO-1

The Galaxy Next Door

In early September, lurking low in the northeast sky is another galaxy, separate from our Milky Way - the Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31). From a very dark area without a lot of light pollution, the core of M31 is visible with the unaided eye as a slightly fuzzy spot in the sky. A pair of 7x50, 9x63 or larger binoculars will give you a much better view and any telescope will help reveal some of the neighboring galaxy's subtle dust lanes.

Dip into the Whirlpool

If you haven't tracked down "The Whirlpool Galaxy," M51, just off the handle of the easily recognizable Big Dipper asterism, do it now while you still can! It will be too low for most to get a good view after September and you'll need to wait until late winter or next spring to catch a good view of this truly picturesque galaxy. An 8" or larger telescope will help you see faint details of M51 more clearly.

A Brilliant Open Star Cluster

Off the western end of the constellation, Cassiopeia is the beautiful Open Star Cluster M52. You can find it with 50mm or larger binoculars from a dark sky site, but the view is definitely better in a telescope. With an 8" or larger scope, and with the aid of an Orion UltraBlock or Oxygen-III eyepiece filter, you may even be able to catch views of faint nebulosity surrounding M52.

Don't Miss the Double Cluster

If you enjoyed observing M52, you'll love the popular favorite "Double Cluster in Perseus." Lying between constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus is a bright, fuzzy spot in the Milky Way, and a binocular will reveal two, bright open star clusters close to one another. For a real treat, use a telescope equipped with a wide-angle eyepiece to explore these sparkling clusters. In early September the "Double Cluster" appears low in northeastern skies around 9 PM, but it becomes a real showpiece later in the evening as it climbs higher in the sky.

Planetary Viewing

Viewing planets is always rewarding and September will provide ample opportunities. Mars and Saturn are still visible until late in the night (early in the morning). Jupiter is still up in the early evenings but will set fairly soon after dark. Go out and enjoy!

A Thinly Veiled Challenge

A challenging object to see in September is the supernova remnant called the Veil Nebula, located in the constellation Cygnus which is nearly overhead as soon as it gets dark. With the help of a star chart, aim your telescope at the naked eye star 52 Cygni. One branch of the Veil crosses over this star and to the east are brighter segments of this roughly circular nebula. While the Veil Nebula can be seen in big binoculars by expert observers under very dark skies, you will likely need at least a 6" aperture telescope and an Orion Oxygen-III eyepiece filter if you are anywhere near city lights.

All objects described above can easily be seen with the suggested equipment from a dark sky site, a viewing location some distance away from city lights where light pollution and when bright moonlight does not overpower the stars.
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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What's in the Sky - May 2018

Get outside with your telescope (or without a telescope) on clear May evenings to see celestial treats recommended by Orion Telescopes and Binoculars! With weather warming up and skies clearing up, there's no shortage of celestial delicacies to view with telescopes and binoculars. Here are a few of Orion's top suggestions for May observing:

Radiant of the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower peaking before dawn on May 6th.
Radiant of the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower peaking before dawn on May 6th.

Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

Grab a blanket or a comfy lounge chair to sit back, relax and watch the Eta Aquarids meteor shower, one of two annual showers caused by dust particles from Halley's Comet. Catch the peak of the dazzling show before dawn on May 6. The waning gibbous Moon might outshine some of fainter meteors, but there will still be opportunities see meteors streak across the night sky at the approximate peak rate of about 30 per hour. Look for meteors appearing to radiate from the constellation Aquarius.

Bright Jupiter

Jupiter reaches opposition on May 9th, making it the best night of the year to explore the gas giant planet and its four brightest moons Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Since Jupiter will be directly opposite the Sun from Earth, it will be visible all night long. Opposition occurs when a planet reaches its closest approach to Earth in its elliptical orbit. Take advantage of Jupiter's brightest night of the year and take a closer look at its cloud band "stripes" and four Galilean moons with any size telescope.

M97, the "Owl Nebula" in Ursa Major (left) and M57, the  "Ring Nebula" in Lyra (right).  Images by Insight Observatory.
M97, the "Owl Nebula" in Ursa Major (left) and M57, the  "Ring Nebula" in Lyra (right).
Images by Insight Observatory.

Four Big Planetary Nebulae

Use a 6" or larger telescope and an Oxygen-III or UltraBlock filter to catch nice views of four relatively large planetary nebulae in May skies. See the "Ghost of Jupiter," NGC 3242 in Hydra; M97, "the Owl Nebula" in the Big Dipper; NGC 4361 in Corvus, and the famous "Ring Nebula", M57 in Lyra just a few degrees from bright star Vega. To help you locate these objects, use the The DeepMap 600.

New Moon, Dark Skies

Take advantage of the dark skies provided by the New Moon on May 15th to scope out the many star clusters, galaxies and other deep-sky gems on display. Pack up your astronomy gear using our full line of telescope and accessory cases and head to a dark sky site for the best viewing conditions.

M13, the "Great Globular Cluster in Hercules (left) and M3, Globular Cluster i n Canes Venatici (right).  Images by Insight Observatory.
M13, the "Great Globular Cluster in Hercules (left) and M3, Globular Cluster i n Canes Venatici (right).
Images by Insight Observatory.

Five Glittering Globular Clusters

Five picture-perfect examples of globular star clusters will be visible in May skies. Check out M3 in the constellation Bo├Âtes. M13, the "Great Cluster in Hercules" will be visible near the zenith. M5 can be found in Serpens, and M92 in the northern section of Hercules. Be sure to track down M4 (NGC 6121) in Scorpius on May 27th, as it will be in a great position for telescopic study throughout the night, reaching zenith around midnight. Big telescopes will provide the best views, but even a pair of humble 50mm or larger binoculars will show you these dense balls of stars from a dark sky site.

Crescent Moon and Venus

After the sun sets on May 17th, you'll find a stunning view of the waxing crescent moon to the left of brilliant Venus. While you're observing the pair, use at telescope to look for the crater Furnerius at the lower right of the crescent moon's face. Try Orion's 1.25" Orion 25% Transmission Moon Filter, perfect for crescent phases, to improve lunar contrast and tone down glare.

M101, Face-On Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major (left) and M51, Face-On Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici (right). Images by Insight Observatory.
M101, Face-On Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major (left) and M51, Face-On Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici (right).
Images by Insight Observatory.

Four Face-On Spirals

Use a large telescope to see the classic pinwheel shapes of galaxies M51 and M101 in the Big Dipper asterism of Ursa Major, and M99 and M100 in the Virgo galaxy cluster. There are also dozens of additional galaxies to explore in the Virgo cluster with a large aperture telescope.

All objects described above can easily be seen with the suggested equipment from a dark sky site, a viewing location some distance away from city lights where light pollution and when bright moonlight does not overpower the stars.
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