June 8 – Galaxies

M81 in the constellation Ursa Major (Big Dipper)

M81 in the constellation Ursa Major (Big Dipper)

Evening Highlights:
  • M51: The Whirlpool Galaxy, which is actually two galaxies colliding – M51A and M51B – is a beautiful grand-design spiral galaxy found in Ursa Major, and is over 23 million light years away.
  • M81: A spiral galaxy in Ursa Major, over 12 million light years away.
  • M82: A starburst galaxy in Ursa Major, over 12 million light years away.  M81 and M82 can often be seen together in a single field of view.
  • M31: The Andromeda Galaxy, a spiral galaxy and only 2.5 million light years from Earth.  M31 is also the only galaxy that can be seen with the naked-eye.  However, M31 does not rise this evening until very late at night – we will try to show M31 on August 31.
  • The planets Venus and Jupiter will be visible early in the evening, while later Saturn and Mars will be visible.
  • If you arrive by car, please park by 8:20 PM.  Bring a chair if you can.  Our presentation will start about 8:40, and observing at 9:30.

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June 22 – Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn

June 22 – Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn

Evening Highlights:
  • Mercury at magnitude -0.5 may be viewed in the western sky shortly after sunset.
  • Venus at magnitude -4.0 will be visible in the western sky after sunset.
  • Jupiter is the brightest object in the night sky (other than the Moon) at magnitude -2.4 (smaller number means brighter), find it in the southern sky.
  • Ringed Saturn will be magnitude 0.0, and can be seen left of Jupiter in the south-east, and is low on the horizon in the early evening.
  • If you arrive by car, please park by 8:20 PM.  Bring a chair if you can.  Our presentation will start about 8:40, and observing at 9:30.

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July 20 – Star Clusters

m13

M13 in the constellation Hercules

Evening Highlights:
  • M13 – First discovered by Edmond Halley (of Halley’s Comet fame) in 1714, and one of the oldest and most densely populated globular clusters with nearly one million stars.
  • M15 – 32000 light years distant, may have a 4000 solar mass black hole at its core.
  • M3 – First discovered by Charles Messier in May 1764.  Thought to contain over 500,000 stars, and is 190 light years across.
  • M80 – Several hundred thousand stars, 32000 light years distant, and one of the densest clusters.
  • Three planets are visible in the sky tonight- Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn (Mercury sets very early, shortly after dusk).
  • Unlike most deep sky objects, all of the globular clusters listed above are visible through both telescopes and  binoculars.  Please feel free to bring a personal pair of binoculars to tonight’s workshop.
  • If you arrive by car, please park by 8:10 PM.  Bring a chair if you can.  Our presentation will start about 8:30, and observing at 9:15.

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August 3 – Planetary Nebulae

NGC6960, The Veil Nebula, in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan)

Evening Highlights (revised 2/24/18):
  • The Ring Nebula (M57) , a planetary nebula nearly 2300 light years from Earth.
  • The Blue Racquetball, NGC 6572, a smooth disk brighter toward the center, 3,500 light years away is optimally viewed at 22:15 but well situated from dusk until past midnight.
  • The Dumbbell Nebula (M27), a planetary nebula, approximately 1360 light years from Earth.
  • The Bowtie Nebula, NGC 40, is well situated in Cepheus for viewing until very late in the night.  It is 3,700 light years distant, and an easy target.
  • The Blinking Planetary Nebula, NGC 6826, at a distance of 3,600 light years will be high up in the sky all night, and should be easily visible in the Meade 12″ scope.
  • Four planets are visible in the sky tonight.  Venus (magnitude -4.3) can be seen after sunset.  Jupiter (-2.1) will be nice in the SSW at dusk, Saturn (0.2) in the southern sky, and Mars (-2.7) will be in the SE at its brightest.
  • If you arrive by car, please park by 8:00 PM.  Bring a chair if you can. A video on nebulae will be shown at about 8:20.  Observing will begin about 9:05.

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August 17 – Double Stars

Albireo

Albireo in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan)

Evening Highlights:
  • Albireo: Appearing as a single star in the constellation Cygnus, through a telescope it resolves to a beautiful double system of gold and blue.
  • Alcor and Mizar: Found in the handle of the Big Dipper/Ursa Major, it’s one of the few naked eye double stars.  Even more interesting – it’s actually a sextuple system!
  • Epsilon Lyrae: Found in Lyra, if looking through binoculars you’ll see two widely separated stars.  Look through a telescope, and you’ll find that each ‘star’ is actually a double!
  • Saturn: With its rings tilted at 26 degrees this year, will be a good target early, and Mars (-2.5) will be bright but low in the south later in the evening.
  • If you arrive by car, please park by 7:40 PM.  Bring a chair if you can.  Our presentation will start about 8:00, and observing at 8:45.

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