NASA Night Sky Notes September 2021

NASA Night Sky Notes September 2021

This article is distributed by NASA Night Sky Network

The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov to find local clubs, events, and more!

Catch Andromeda Rising

David Prosper

If you’re thinking of a galaxy, the image in your head is probably the Andromeda Galaxy! Studies of this massive neighboring galaxy, also called M31, have played an incredibly important role in shaping modern astronomy. As a bonus for stargazers, the Andromeda Galaxy is also a beautiful sight.

Have you heard that all the stars you see at night are part of our Milky Way galaxy? While that is mostly true, one star-like object located near the border between the constellations of Andromeda and Cassiopeia appears fuzzy to unaided eyes. That’s because it’s not a star, but the Andromeda Galaxy, its trillion stars appearing to our eyes as a 3.4 magnitude patch of haze. Why so dim? Distance! It’s outside our galaxy, around 2.5 million light years distant – so far away that the light you see left M31’s stars when our earliest ancestors figured out stone tools. Binoculars show more detail: M31’s bright core stands out, along with a bit of its wispy, saucer-shaped disc. Telescopes bring out greater detail but often can’t view the entire galaxy at once. Depending on the quality of your skies and your magnification, you may be able to make out individual globular clusters, structure, and at least two of its orbiting dwarf galaxies: M110 and M32. Light pollution and thin clouds, smoke, or haze will severely hamper observing fainter detail, as they will for any “faint fuzzy.” Surprisingly, persistent stargazers can still spot M31’s core from areas of moderate light pollution as long as skies are otherwise clear.

Modern astronomy was greatly shaped by studies of the Andromeda Galaxy. A hundred years ago, the idea that there were other galaxies beside our own was not widely accepted, and so M31 was called the “Andromeda Nebula.” Increasingly detailed observations of M31 caused astronomers to question its place in our universe – was M31 its own “island universe,” and not part of our Milky Way? Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis engaged in the “Great Debate” of 1920 over its nature. Curtis argued forcefully from his observations of dimmer than expected nova, dust lanes, and other oddities that the “nebula” was in fact an entirely different galaxy from our own. A few years later, Edwin Hubble, building on Henrietta Leavitt’s work on Cepheid variable stars as a “standard candle” for distance measurement, concluded that M31 was indeed another galaxy after he observed Cepheids in photos of Andromeda, and estimated M31’s distance as far outside our galaxy’s boundaries. And so, the Andromeda Nebula became known as the Andromeda Galaxy.

These discoveries inspire astronomers to this day, who continue to observe M31 and many other galaxies for hints about the nature of our universe. One of the Hubble Space Telescope’s longest-running observing campaigns was a study of M31: the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT): bit.ly/m31phat . Dig into NASA’s latest discoveries about the Andromeda Galaxy, and the cosmos at large, at nasa.gov.

Spot the Andromeda Galaxy! M31’s more common name comes from its parent constellation, which becomes prominent as autumn arrives in the Northern Hemisphere. Surprising amounts of detail can be observed with unaided eyes from dark sky sites. Hints of it can even be made out from light polluted areas. Image created with assistance from Stellarium

While M31’s disc appears larger than you might expect (about 3 Moon widths wide), its “galactic halo” is much, much larger – as you can see here. In fact, it is suspected that its halo is so huge that it may already mingle with our Milky Way’s own halo, which makes sense since our galaxies are expected to merge sometime in the next few billion years! The dots are quasars, objects located behind the halo, which are the very energetic cores of distant galaxies powered by black holes at their center. The Hubble team studied the composition of M31’s halo by measuring how the quasars’ light was absorbed by the halo’s material.  Credits: NASA, ESA, and E. Wheatley (STScI)  Source: https://bit.ly/m31halo

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NASA Night Sky Notes August 2021

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NASA Night Sky Notes August 2021
This article is distributed by NASA Night Sky Network
The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov to find local clubs, events, and more!

Corner the Great Square of Pegasus

David Prosper

The Summer Triangle may be the most famous seasonal star pattern, but during early August evenings another geometrically-themed asterism rises: the Great Square of Pegasus. This asterism’s name is a bit misleading: while three of its stars – Scheat, Markab, and Algenib – are indeed found in the constellation of the winged horse Pegasus, its fourth star, Alpheratz, is the brightest star in the constellation Andromeda!

August evenings are an excellent time to look for the Great Square, as it will be rising in the east after sunset. If not obvious at first, wait for this star pattern to rise a bit above the murky air, and remember that depending on your point of view, it may appear more like a diamond than a square. Look for it below the Summer Triangle, or to the southeast of nearby Cassiopeia at this time. As the Great Square rises in prominence during autumn evenings, it becomes a handy guidepost to finding more constellations, including some of the dimmer members of the Zodiac: Aries, Pisces, Aquarius, and Capricornus. Like the Summer Triangle, the Great Square of Pegasus is also huge, but Pegasus itself is even larger; out of the 88 constellations, Pegasus is 7th in size, and feels larger as the stars in its neighboring constellations are much dimmer.

There are many notable deep-sky objects found within the stars of Pegasus – ranging from easily spotted to expert level targets – making it a great constellation to revisit as your observing skills improve. Notable objects include the densely-packed stars of globular cluster M15, a great first target. The potential “Milky Way look-alike” galaxy NGC 7331 is a fun target for more advanced observers, and expert observers can hop nearby to try to tease out the much dimmer interacting galaxies of Stephan’s Quintet. A fascinating (but extremely difficult to observe) object is a gravitationally-lensed quasar famously known as the Einstein Cross. Pegasus has quite a storied history in the field of exoplanet research: 51 Pegasi was the first Sun-like star discovered to be host to a planet outside our solar system, now officially named Dimidiam.

While observing Pegasus and its surroundings, keep your eyes relaxed and ready to catch some Perseids, too! August 2021 promises an excellent showing of this annual meteor shower. The crescent Moon sets early on the evening of the shower’s peak on August 11-12, but you can spot stray Perseids most of the month. If you trace the path of these meteors, you’ll find they originate from one point in Perseus – their radiant. Giant planets Jupiter and Saturn will be up all evening as well. Look south – they easily stand out as the brightest objects in the faint constellations Aquarius and Capricornus.

Pegasus truly holds some fantastic astronomical treasures! Continue your exploration of the stars of Pegasus and beyond with NASA at nasa.gov.

While the stars of the Great Square of Pegasus are not as bright as those of the Summer Triangle, they still stand out compared to their neighbors, and make a great foundation for exploring this area of the night sky. Note that the brightness of the stars near the horizon is  exaggerated in this picture

Stephan’s Quintet is one of the most famous deep-sky objects in Pegasus. First discovered in 1877, it contains the first galaxy group discovered (which includes 4 of the 5 galaxies making up the Quintet) – and has been studied extensively ever since. One day this group will merge into one supergalaxy! While famous, these galaxies are hard to spot in all but the largest backyard telescopes – but are a favorite target of astrophotographers. Take a virtual flyby of these galaxies with a tour created from Hubble data at: bit.ly/quintetflyby

Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon, J. DePasquale, F. Summers, and Z. Levay (STScI)

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NASA Night Sky Notes July 2021

NASA Night Sky Notes July 2021
This article is distributed by NASA Night Sky Network
The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov to find local clubs, events, and more!

Observe the Milky Way and Great Rift

David Prosper

Summer skies bring glorious views of our own Milky Way galaxy to observers blessed with dark skies. For many city dwellers, their first sight of the Milky Way comes during trips to rural areas – so if you are traveling away from city lights, do yourself a favor and look up!
To observe the Milky Way, you need clear, dark skies, and enough time to adapt your eyes to the dark. Photos of the Milky Way are breathtaking, but they usually show far more detail and color than the human eye can see – that’s the beauty and quietly deceptive nature of long exposure photography. For Northern Hemisphere observers, the most prominent portion of the Milky Way rises in the southeast as marked by the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius. Take note that, even in dark skies, the Milky Way isn’t easily visible until it rises a bit above the horizon and the thick, turbulent air which obscures the view. The Milky Way is huge, but is also rather faint, and our eyes need time to truly adjust to the dark and see it in any detail. Try not to check your phone while you wait, as its light will reset your night vision. It’s best to attempt to view the Milky Way when the Moon is at a new or crescent phase; you don’t want the Moon’s brilliant light washing out any potential views, especially since a full Moon is up all night.
Keeping your eyes dark adapted is especially important if you want to not only see the haze of the Milky Way, but also the dark lane cutting into that haze, stretching from the Summer Triangle to Sagittarius. This dark detail is known as the Great Rift, and is seen more readily in very dark skies, especially dark, dry skies found in high desert regions. What exactly is the Great Rift? You are looking at massive clouds of galactic dust lying between Earth and the interior of the Milky Way. Other “dark nebulae” of cosmic clouds pepper the Milky Way, including the famed Coalsack, found in the Southern Hemisphere constellation of Crux. Many cultures celebrate these dark clouds in their traditional stories along with the constellations and Milky Way.
Where exactly is our solar system within the Milky Way? Is there a way to get a sense of scale? The “Our Place in Our Galaxy” activity can help you do just that, with only birdseed, a coin, and your imagination: bit.ly/galaxyplace. You can also discover the amazing science NASA is doing to understand our galaxy – and our place in it – at nasa.gov.

 
The Great Rift is shown in more detail in this photo of a portion of the Milky Way along with the bright stars of the Summer Triangle. You can see why it is also called the “Dark Rift.” Credit: NASA / A.Fujii

If the Milky Way was shrunk down to the size of North America, our entire Solar System would be about the size of a quarter. At that scale, the North Star, Polaris – which is about 433 light years distant from us – would be 11 miles away! Find more ways to visualize these immense sizes with the Our Place in Our Galaxy activity: bit.ly/galaxyplace
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Sky Targets for March 2021

Telescopius sends out monthly target during monthly new moon.

The first target is both NGC2238 and Rosette Nebula which are within the same nebula. Next is a Globular Cluster NGC5053 in the constellation Coma Berenices. Followed by HCG 44 a Galaxy Cluster in the constellation Leo. The Flaming Star Nebula located in the constellation Auriga.

The Cone Nebula located in the constellation Monoceros. Another nebula in the same constellation is NGC2239. How about grabbing a Barred Spiral Galaxy, NGC 4559 in the constellation Come Berenices.

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What’s In the Sky in March 2021

From Orion Telescopes monthly newsletter:

Orion Continues to Shine
Constellation Orion is still well-placed in March skies for telescopic study. Check out bright nebula M42, also called the Orion Nebula, which is visible as the middle “star” of Orion’s “sword” just south of the three recognizable stars of Orion’s belt. While easily detected in astronomy binoculars, the wispy Orion Nebula will reveal more intricate details in a telescope. After March, our namesake constellation will get lower and lower in the west, making it harder to see as the Sun moves eastward in the sky.

New Moon
New Moon comes on March 13th, making it the best night in March for viewing faint deep sky objects.

Morning Planetary Group
March 10th brings a nice group of planets. Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, and the Moon will all be grouped together. Get up early, grab a telescope and take a look!

Brilliant Binocular Clusters
Grab a pair of 50mm or larger astronomy binoculars in March for great views of the Pleiades star cluster (M45), the Beehive cluster (M44), and the must-see Double Cluster in Perseus. These sparkling sky gems are simply beautiful when observed with big binoculars, or use a wide-field eyepiece and short focal length telescope for a closer look.

Galaxies Galore
By about 9-10pm throughout March, Ursa Major, Leo, and the western edge of the Virgo galaxy cluster are high enough in the eastern sky to yield great views of some of our favorite galaxies. Check out the bright pair of M81 and M82 just above the Big Dipper asterism. Look east of bright star Regulus to observe the Leo Triplet of galaxies M65, M66, and NGC 3628. In the northeastern sky, check out the famous Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). While the Whirlpool can be seen with modest 50mm binoculars, using a 10″ or 12″ telescope in a location with dark skies will display the distant galaxy’s beautiful spiral arms. With an 8″ or larger telescope and a dark sky this region of the sky harbors dozens of galaxies — try to find them all! “

Read More at:

https://www.telescope.com/assets/images/email/2021_02_26_WITS/2021_02_26_WITSWeb2.html?utm_source=210226&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=US-210226-WITS

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Mini Messier Marathon

Since we are still in a covid environment, if you want to participate in the Messier Marathon, it starts on March 10 through the 16th. You can download the list and see how many you can bag every night. If the weather is nice, I plan to pull the roof on my observatory and grab the messier objects I can. I am limited to 20 degree views, so some of them I have to wait till they come over the observatory. Of course this all depends on the weather.

Wallys is still not open for viewing, due to snow and ground conditions. We also hesitant to start up any viewing parties until maybe August or September of this year. We need to keep everyone safe, let’s see how this all pans out.

You can down load the list from this website: ftp://vbas.dyndns.org/Observing/messier-checklist-pennington-order.pdf

Or this one that I use from the Denver Astronomy Club, https://www.denverastro.org/xforms/marathon_messier_card.pdf

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THE UNISTELLAR MESSIER MARATHON March 10-16, 2021

By admin | February 26, 20210 Comment

One week to capture 110 Messier Objects

From March 10-16, 2021, astronomers and space-lovers worldwide are invited to participate in a record-setting world’s largest*Messier marathon:A race to observe all 110 Messier objects in one evening . For space-lovers who can’t spare an over-night,Unistellar has developed numerous mini marathons which can be completed in as little as one hour of observation time.

MOUNTAIN VIEW AND MARSEILLE – February 25, 2021 – Astronomers across North America, Europe and Japan have joined forces for a friendly competition to observe iconic deep-sky objects—all in hopes of getting stargazers curious about astronomy in March.

Messier Marathon Week, hosted by Unistellar and now in its second year, challenges stargazers to observe as many Messier objects as possible in one night. Events take place March 10 – 16, 2021, the only time of year that all Messier objects are visible in one night. If enough stargazers participate, Unistellar hopes to set a world record for the largest Messier Marathon event.

Some of the world’s leading astronomy institutions have signed up for the Unistellar Marathon, giving stargazers across multiple contents and languages access to diverse perspectives on space. Organizations including the SETI Institute plan to participate, either by attempting a Messier marathon or by sharing their best Messier observations.

Unistellar Marathon Website

For more information please click link above.

Whats a Messier Object or a list, visit Seasky.org

Wikipedia- Messier Objects Wikipedia – Messier

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Welcome To Our New Webpage

I had to end up changing the format, we were using a older software program and an update in the dbase was done which made both our main, member and gallery sites unavailable.

All have been upgrade but could not import the older data that we had, I managed to save the club gallery but no the websites. So we have to start a new.

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