April Observing List

For our late April West Hawaii Astronomy Club star party I have put together a short observing list. This in my effort to expand our skills and knowledge of the sky.

NGC6656
M22 or NGC6656 in Sagittarius, a classic globular cluster

The best upcoming weekend for a star party is May 4th, the same day as new Moon. The 4th is also AstroDay Hilo and many members including myself will be busy. Thus our next new Moon star party will be Saturday, April 27th. With a last quarter Moon rising a little before 2am it is a nice night for a star party with dark skies until long after midnight.

Ten objects, from easy to a few more challenging targets, something for everyone. None of these are Messier objects, a couple are from catalogs you may have never heard of. Trust me in that there are a few nice surprises to be found here…

NGC2362
RA: 7h 18′ Dec: 24° 57′ S Mag: 4.1 Open cluster in CMa
Centered on the bright star Tau CMa

h3945
RA: 7h 16′ Dec: 23° 19’S Mag:4.8 Binary star in CMa
Pan north of NGC2362 a few fields or about 1° north and a touch west, called the Winter Alberio

The Stargate
RA: 12h 36′ Dec: 12° 1’S Mag:7 Asterism in Crv
Very bright, easy to find, just one degree SW of M104, look for a triangle within a triangle

NGC4361
RA: 12h 24 Dec: 18° 47’S Mag:10 Planetary nebula in Crv

Melotte 111
RA: 12h 22′ Dec: 25° 51’N Mag:1.8 Open cluster in Com
Hint: Do not use the telescopeNGC4565
RA: 12h 36′ Dec: 25° 59’N Mag: 9.5 Galaxy in Com

Trumpler 20
RA: 12h 39′ Dec: 60° 36’S Mag 10.1 open cluster in Cru
Large, try binoculars or lowest power, very rich!

DY Cru
RA: 12h 47′ Dec: 59° 42’S Mag: 8.4-9.8 Carbon star in Cru
Put Mimosa in the field, put in an eyepiece for about 100x and look 2′ W of Mimosa, if needed put Mimosa just out of the field of view to cut the glare

Pismis 4
RA: 8h 34′ Dec: 44° 24’S Mag: 5.9 Open cluster in Vela
Large, bright, use lowest power

Trumpler 14
RA: 10h 43′ Dec: 59° 32’S Mag: 5.5 Open Cluster in Car
Part of the Eta Carina nebula complex, 19′ NW of Eta Carina

NGC3532
RA: 11h 5′ Dec: 58° 46’S Mag:3 Open cluster in Car
Big, bright, use lowest power

You may notice a lot of seemingly odd catalog designations… Pismis, Trumpler, Melotte… Just to show that there is a lot to discover beyond the Messier and NGC catalogs.

A couple hints… All of these objects are to the south, setup your telescope to be comfortable looking south. Most of these will not be in your telescopes little computer if you use GOTO. Learn how to enter manual RA and Dec coordinates.

M6 The Butterfly Cluster
M6, the Butterfly Cluster, 9 x 1min Canon 60D and AT6RC

All of these objects should be visible in the early to mid-evening on April 27th. Those in Canis Major should be viewed first, while the last are in Crux which rises around 7pm and culminates around 10pm.

The dimmest objects listed here are tenth magnitude, within easy reach of a six inch telescope. If you do not have a six inch, check out the view in someone else’s telescope. The brightest object here does not even need a telescope, indeed it is too large to fit in the field of view.

Mercury at Maximum Elongation

Mercury, Venus and Jupiter
An evening conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter on 30 May, 2013

Today Mercury is passing through maximum elongation, the furthest it will rise above the rising Sun in the dawn sky. After today the planet will slide back into the Sun’s glare headed for superior conjunction on May 21st.

This is the best apparition of the year, morning or evening, with the planet over 27° from the Sun.

Continue reading “Mercury at Maximum Elongation”

Beyond Messier

I have noted a tendency among my fellow observers in our little local club… To observe the same objects over and over.

M6 The Butterfly Cluster
M6, the Butterfly Cluster, 9 x 1min Canon 60D and AT6RC

These are the big, bright, showpiece objects that we observe repeatedly. You know the ones… the Orion Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, Omega Centauri, Eta Carina, Jewelbox, Etc.

I too visit old favorites in the night, stopping by to enjoy the beauty. I will also make it a point to view some new objects each observing session, something I have not seen before. Our universe has more to offer, there are many beautiful sights to be had that are all too often overlooked.

Continue reading “Beyond Messier”

A Pretty Scene in Taurus

The Pleiades star cluster
The Pleiades star cluster M45

This evening, April 8th will offer a beautiful view with Mars and slim crescent Moon located between the Pleiades and the larger Hyades star clusters.

The Moon will be a slim crescent, only 14% illuminated. Mars will be 5° north (to the right) of the Moon, shining at +1.5 magnitude. Above and below will be the bright star clusters.

Kaʻohe Observing

A nice night at Kaʻohe last night for the members of the West Hawaii Asrtonomy Club. As usual it was cloudy when we arrived, but cleared just after sunset leaving a very nice sky. While heavy dew shut most of us dawn after 11pm, we had several hours of very nice observing.