Saturday, September 12, 2015

Total eclipse of the moon, Serpens Cauda, and Ophiuchus

Special Note: There will be a total eclipse of the moon on Sunday evening September 27, 2015 beginning 7:09 pm and lasting until 9:23 pm mountain daylight time. It will be easily visible in the eastern sky. This is a colorful and beautiful phenomenon that you may enjoy observing. Here is a table  of when it will be visible from a newsletter of the Cache Valley Astronomical Association. If you attempt to image it, I would be glad to post it in a future post if you send me a copy.

September is often a great time to enjoy observing, and this September has been no exception. Here in northern Utah we have had an exceptional spell of clear warm nights, with no moon risings until very late in the night. This week I decided to image in the constellation Serpens Cauda (serpents tail) and bordering to the west of it Ophiuchus (a man holding a snake). Serpens Cauda has the Eagle Nebula (Messier 16) made famous by the Hubble Space Telescope. Ophiuchus is rich with Globular Clusters. Ophiuchus is now quite low in the west so some of the images are not as sharp as they would have been a few months ago. It is situated off the right side of the Milky way, in the lower area of the sky.

Messier 16 is referred to as the Eagle Nebula, a beautiful Emission nebula located in the Milky way in the constellation Serpen Cauda. This is the material that stars are made of.
Messier 9 is a distant globular cluster in the constellation of Ophiuchus
Messier 19 is a grand globular cluster in Ophiuchus.

NGC 6284 is another more distant globular in Ophiuchus
NGC 6287, another globular cluster
NGC 6304 another globular, probably not resolved here very well because it was quite low when I imaged it.
Messier 9, discovered by Chares Messier who compiled a list of objects he found when searching for comets.
NGC 6356, another globular in Ophiuchus.
NGC 6366, is a very loose globular cluster in Ophichus
NGC 6369 is a nice small Planetary nebula, with a barely visible white dwarf in the middle, the result of a giant star shedding it's outer layers in a spectacular explosion.
Messier 14, another spectacular globular cluster discovered by Charles Messier.
NGC 6401, another small globular in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Finally, NGC 6633, a large open star cluster with not to many members.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sagittarius the Archer

Summer is passing quickly, so I thought I would take advantage of looking at the deep sky eye candy in the constellation Sagittarius before it disappears in the west this fall. This constellations has some of the most interesting objects to image. It is located low in the south as the sun sets and darkness deepens.

Messier 17, called the Omega Nebula or the swan nebula, is a large glowing cloud of gas, where new stars are built.
Messier 8 is an emission nebula, glowing from some of the stars embedded within the cloud of gas.

Messier 20, called the Trifid Nebula is striking because of the prominent dark lanes which are thick clouds in front of the red glowing gases.

Messier 22, is a large globular cluster of suns. There are many of these large congregations of stars orbiting our Milky Way galaxy. The largest appear so because they are generally closer to us. This cluster is estimated to be about 11,000 light years distant.

Messier 28 is another globular cluster, though it appears much smaller. This globular is about 18,000 light years from earth.

Messier 21 is a open star cluster, one of many in this part of our galaxy.