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Clusters Nebulae Galaxies

Image Credit: NASA
Tonight | May 04, 2010

Small Magellanic Cloud: a nearby dwarf galaxy

If you could view it with your eye alone – in the sky visible from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere – you would say it does resemble a luminous cloud. Really, though, it is a nearby dwarf galaxy, orbiting our Milky Way.

Photo Credit:  NASA
Tonight | Jun 29, 2009

M11: Wild Duck Cluster

The Wild Duck Cluster (Messier 11) is found in the constellation Scutum the Shield, just south of the Eagle’s Tail in the constellation Aquila. Unless you have eagle eyes, don’t expect to see this distant star cluster with the eye alone. Starting from the star Altair, star-hop to M11′s general location. Then find it with binoculars!

Tonight | Jun 29, 2009

M20: Trifid Nebula

The Trifid Nebula (Messier 20) is one of the many binocular treasures in the summer Milky Way. Its name means “divided into three lobes,” but you’ll probably need a telescope to see why. On a dark, moonless night, you can star-hop upward from the spout of the Teapot in Sagittarius to the Lagoon Nebula (Messier 8). In the same binocular field, look for the smaller and fainter Trifid Nebula as a fuzzy patch above the Lagoon.

Tonight | Jun 29, 2009

The Lagoon Nebula, Messier 8

The Lagoon Nebula is the largest and brightest of a number of nebulosities in and around Sagittarius.

Photo Credit:  Richard Hammar
Tonight | Jun 29, 2009

M33: Triangulum Galaxy

Although long-exposure photographs show the Triangulum galaxy (Messier 33) in a beautiful pinwheel shape, this face-on spiral galaxy looks relatively lackluster in binoculars or even the telescope. The Triangulum galaxy has a low surface brightness that makes this faint object a major challenge, with or without binoculars.

Photo Credit:  madmiked
Tonight | Jun 29, 2009

M16 and M17: Eagle and Omega Nebulae

Barely visible to the unaided eye on a dark, moonless night, the Eagle Nebula (Messier 16) and Omega Nebula (Messier 17) are best seen through binoculars, or low power in a telescope. These two closely-knit patches of light readily fit within the same binocular field. Star-hop to them from the Teapot in Sagittarius.

Photo Credit:  Eclipse.sx
Tonight | Jun 29, 2009

Great Rift: Dark area in the Milky Way

Outside on a dark summer night, looking edgewise into our galaxy’s disk, you’ll notice a long, dark lane dividing the bright starry band of the Milky Way. This is the Great Rift.

Photo Credit:  Wil Milan
Tonight | Jun 29, 2009

Beehive: 1,000 stars in Cancer

Between the star Regulus in Leo and the stars Castor and Pollux in Gemini, you might notice a smudge – really a cluster of stars – called the Beehive.

M4 near Antares
Tonight | May 29, 2009

M4: Globular cluster near Antares

If you’ve never found a deep-sky object on your own before, M4 is a grand place to start. The M4 star cluster is easy to find, because it’s right next to Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. This is not an open star cluster or loose collection of fairly young stars. Instead, it’s a globular star cluster, a symmetrical grouping of some of the galaxy’s oldest stars.