Deep Space Objects - December 2018
The Pleiades - M45
This open cluster is best viewed from October through to March. This collection of stars also known as the 'Seven Sisters' and can be found by locating Orion high above the southern horizon. To the right is a bright orange-red star (Aldebaran - eye of Taurus), use this star as a stepping stone to the star cluster. Six stars of this cluster are easily visible to the naked eye but as many as 18 can be seen without any optical equipment if the skies are very dark and away from light pollution. In many ways this cluster is best viewed with Binoculars or the finderscope.
The Andromeda Galaxy - M31
The Andromeda Galaxy is the largest of approx. 20 galaxies (including our own Milky Way galaxy) which make up the 'Local Group'. Latest observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope revealed that M31 contains one trillion stars, greatly exceeding the number of stars in our own galaxy. M31 is best seen from September through to Jaunary. You should easily spot M31 with binoculars and, if there is a dark sky, you can even see it with your unaided eye.
To locate M31, find the square of Pegasus. Start at the top left star of the square - Alpha Andromedae - and move two stars to the left and up a bit. Then turn 90 degrees to the right, move up to one resonably bright star and continue a similar distance again in the same direction. Or by following the "arrow" made by the three rightmost bright stars of Cassiopeia down to the lower right.
|Weymouth Astronomy Estab 2006|