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.

Mars and the Pleiades

Over the next week Mars will pass by the Pleiades star cluster. The bright planet and the cluster should make a pretty arrangement in the evening sky.

The Pleiades star cluster
The Pleiades star cluster M45

Tonight the planet is 4° from the cluster. By Saturday, March 30th, the planet will be just over three degrees away. Through the next week the planet and cluster will slowly drift apart again.

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

Vernal Equinox

The spring equinox will occur at 19:20HST today.

Sunrise over Georgia Strait
Sunrise over Georgia Strait

The equinox is defined as the time at which the Sun passes through the plane of the Earth’s equator. Until the fall equinox occurs on Sep 22nd, the Sun will be located in the northern hemisphere with a positive declination coordinate.

Today the length of the day and night will be very near equal, thus the term equinox. the Sun will rise and set nearly exactly due east and due west.

Today is considered the start of spring for most cultures in the northern hemisphere, or the start of fall for those in the southern hemisphere.

2019 Apsides and Seasons
Event Universal TimeHawaii Standard Time
Perihelion Jan 0305:20UTJan 0219:20HST
Spring Equinox Mar 2021:58UTMar 2011:58HST
Summer SolsticeJun 2115:54UTJun 2105:54HST
Aphelion Jul 0422:11UTJul 0412:11HST
Fall Equinox Sep 2307:50UTSep 2221:50HST
Winter SolsticeDec 2204:19UTDec 2118:19HST
Data from US Naval Observatory Data Services