Weymouth Astronomy

Deep Space Objects - April 2020

M81 and M82 Galaxies

M81 - Image courtesy of Rob Hodgkinson Within the constellation of Ursa Major lies this pair of galaxies. M81 (NGC3031, Bode's Galaxy) is a large magnitude 7 galaxy which has a bright core and is therefore easily observed with small instruments. Through a telescope M81 has an obvious oval shape whereas M82 (NGC 3034), also known as the Cigar Galaxy is thin and pencil shaped. On very dark and clear nights it may be possible when viewing through a larger telescope to observe a dark lane of dust across M82.

M82 - Image courtesy of Rob Hodgkinson M81 is spiral galaxy where larger telescopes may review spiral arms extending from the core. M82 is an irregular galaxy with no defined sprial arms but is full of irregular dust clouds and collections of stars. M82 is the smaller of the two but still contains tens of billions of stars. Both of these galaxies are best seen from January through to August.

Open Cluster - M35

M35 is an open star cluster comprising several hundred stars around a hundred of which are brighter than magnitude 13 and so will be seen under dark skies with a relativly small telescope. It is easily spotted with binoculars close to the "foot" of the upper right twin of Gemini and 3000 light years from Earth.

Looking through a small telescope will initially reveal several bright stars, though further observation will reveal approx 50 dimmer stars merging into a hazy background of light. This cluster is best viewed from December through to May.

The Pleiades - M45

M45 - The Pleiades 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.