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Tom T's Small Wonders

Welcome to the Small Wonders Archive.

Small Wonders is an observing column oriented towards the beginning to intermediate observer and designed to be used in the field. It differs from typical observing columns in a number of ways:
  • A range of targets are presented - most articles have something to offer nearly every aperture and observing skill
  • Complete finder charts are displayed with the target list - from widefield to eyepiece
  • DSS images are displayed for every target to help the observer identify the field
  • It's to available readers free of charge
  • Readers are invited (via the various observing and photography forums or e-mail) to contribute their sketches, images and observations.† Contribution calls are normally posted 2-4 weeks in advance of each article.
Each article is provided in both HTML and PDF format, feel free to print off any articles that interest you.† Please do not redistribute the PDF's electronically, but feel free to refer people to the site, or hand out print copies as you like.

I'd like to take a minute to thank all the people who have contributed to Small Wonders - the sketchers, observers, photographers, and readers who have taken the time to give their input.† There have been many, and I thank you for your time.† The articles wouldn't be nearly as good without your contributions.† A special thanks goes to Allister St. Claire for encouraging the series of articles and for providing feedback to help set the tone, Collin Smith for his editorial assistance, Olivier Biot for his assistance in creating the PDF's,† Marcin Siudzinski for the Polish translations, Steed Joy for the Chinese translations, Emre Evren for the Turkish translations, Pierre Henrotay for the French translations, Roman Bakay for the Russian translations, Chris Mariott for creating SkyMap Pro (and graciously allowing me the use of it for creating these articles), and Mike Bieler and the owners of Astronomics for graciously sponsoring CN.

Articles are arranged by their initial publication / posting dates.† Please note that after the initial few articles CN moved to a new format - thus some of the older articles may have some formatting issues.† If you find any errors, please contact me and I will get them fixed.

Chinese translations by Steed Joy are now available.

Polish translations by Marcin Siudzinski are now available on the 1st ever Polish equipment and astronomy website:Astronoce (en: AstroNights) (you may have to hunt a bit).

Turkish translations by Emre Evren are now available.

French translations by Pierre Henrotay are now available.
Russian translations by Roman Bakay are now available.

Please e-mail me at with your questions, comments, observations, photos and sketches.† Also feel free to e-mail me if you're interested in translating any or all of the SW series into a different language.

Thank you for visiting.†

††† ††† ††† ---Tom Trusock

Live from NEAF!
[Article | 04/06/11 | by Tom Trusock
Join Tom T and the rest of the CN crew for this special weekend of webcasts from the worlds largest astronomy show.. . .

Small Wonders: Andromeda
[Article | 09/22/04 | by Tom Trusock
Andromeda, the daughter of Cassiopeia and Cepheus, was condemned to be sacrificed to Poseidon and bound to a rock near the shore. Just having returned aft. . .

Small Wonders: Aquila
[Article | 08/23/06 | by Tom Trusock
Aquila occupies some prime summer real estate. Lying astride the Milky Way and bordered Scutum and Sagitta itís a fantastic area to pull through with a ri. . .

Small Wonders: Auriga
[Article | 01/02/05 | by Tom Trusock
Auriga - (aw-REE-ga) - A bright constellation located in the winter milky way, the charioteer was probably first placed in the night sky by the ancient bab. . .

Small Wonders: Canes Venatici
[Article | 05/26/05 | by Tom Trusock
Canes Venatici is a somewhat small constellation, and may be difficult to find. Flanked by both Ursa Major and Bootes, Canes is located in a somewhat barr. . .

Small Wonders: Canis Major
[Article | 02/17/07 | by Tom Trusock
Check that thermometer and bundle up tonight, because it's time for the Dog Da... uh... Nights of winter! This month we'll focus on Canis Major, Orion's f. . .

Small Wonders: Cassiopeia
[Article | 11/06/05 | by Tom Trusock
Itís time to pay homage to the Queen. In late fall and early winter we see the annual ascent of Cassiopeia, Queen of Ethiopia, wife of Cepheus and mother . . .

Small Wonders: Cepheus
[Article | 09/12/05 | by Tom Trusock
Photometrically, Cepheus isnít one of the brighter constellations. Itís brightest star, Alpha (Alderamin) is only mag 2.4. Although itís not a standout, . . .

Small Wonders: Coma Berenices
[Article | 05/03/05 | by Tom Trusock
Coma Berenices. (Koh-ma Be-ren-i-sez) A tiny constellation - tiny in size, and somewhat unimpressive in stellar brightness (it's brightest star is Beta at . . .

Small Wonders: Cygnus
[Article | 08/10/05 | by Tom Trusock
Cygnus is a spectacular summer constellation. For observers at mid-northern latitudes, it passes directly through zenith and thus offers some of the best . . .

Small Wonders: Delphinus and Equuleus
[Article | 08/19/04 | by Tom Trusock
This is something of a sparse piece of sky if you are only interested in looking for bright showpiece objects. For small scopes, there are a few nice deep. . .

Small Wonders: Gemini and Cancer
[Article | 02/25/05 | by Tom Trusock
Cancer (the Crab) and Gemini, (the Twins) are both constellations of the zodiac, but that's about all they have in common. Cancer is far fainter than Gemi. . .

Small Wonders: Hercules
[Article | 06/30/09 | by Tom Trusock
Dragging forth the summer Milky Way, legendary strongman Hercules is yet another boundary constellation for the summer season. His toes are dipped in the . . .

Small Wonders: Leo
[Article | 03/03/05 | by Tom Trusock
To many Leo's appearance means spring and what's more, signals the start of big game season for serious deep sky aficionados. You won't find the typical a. . .

Small Wonders: Lepus
[Article | 01/23/07 | by Tom Trusock
Ah Lepus Ė the galactic rabbit. Overlooked by everybody except perhaps Orions hunting dogs, this little constellation has a few very interesting gems for . . .

Small Wonders: Lyra
[Article | 07/09/04 | by Tom Trusock
Lyra, like most constellations, has been many things to many people over the years. Today we see it as the Lyre. A stringed instrument similar to a harp t. . .

Small Wonders: Observing the Hubble Sequence in the Fall Northern Sky
[Article | 09/12/09 | by Tom Trusock
After reading The Day We Found the Universe (Marcia Bartusiak), I got to thinking about Hubble's galactic classification scheme. How much, exactly, can . . .

Small Wonders: Ophiuchus
[Article | 06/09/09 | by Tom Trusock
This massive constellation culminates around midnight on June 12th and for me, has always been the harbinger of Summer. . . .

Small Wonders: Orion
[Article | 01/26/05 | by Tom Trusock
If there's one constellation known to astronomer and non astronomer, young and old, it would have to be Orion. It was the first constellation that I learn. . .

Small Wonders: Pegasus
[Article | 11/02/04 | by Tom Trusock
For naked eye observers, the great square of Pegasus is the dominant feature in northern hemisphere skies in the fall. Ironically, the stars that make up . . .

Small Wonders: Perseus
[Article | 11/07/07 | by Tom Trusock
Perseus slew the gorgon Medusa and then (while riding Pegasus) rescued Andromeda - the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia - from Cetus. It's his story tha. . .

Small Wonders: Quick Peeks - Aquarius
[Article | 10/13/08 | by Tom Trusock
No time for observing? Nonsense! There's always time to take a quick peek. . .

Small Wonders: Quick Peeks - Cepheus
[Article | 10/01/08 | by Tom Trusock
No time for observing? Nonsense. Grab that small scope or those binoculars and join me for a couple of Quick Peeks in Cepheus. . . .

Small Wonders: Quick Peeks - Cetus
[Article | 12/20/08 | by Tom Trusock
No time for observing? Nonsense. There's always time for a quick peek.. . .

Small Wonders: Quick Peeks - Sculptor
[Article | 01/01/09 | by Tom Trusock
It's time for a quick peek at the southern sky.... . .

Small Wonders: Sagitta and Vulpecula
[Article | 09/18/06 | by Tom Trusock
This month we've got two tiny constellations to look at: Vulpecula and Sagitta. The fox and the arrow seem to be a match made in heaven, but on investigat. . .

Small Wonders: Sagittarius
[Article | 07/29/04 | by Tom Trusock
For some reason I've never really fathomed, Sagittarius has long been seen as a cosmic Centaur with a Bow. (In this case, I find it somewhat reminiscent . . .

Small Wonders: Scutum
[Article | 07/22/07 | by Tom Trusock
Scutum, formerly Scutum Scobiescianum, is an interesting little constellation. With only one star brighter than 4th magnitude, it's something of a cosmic . . .

Small Wonders: Taurus
[Article | 01/10/05 | by Tom Trusock
For the last several thousand years, mankind has been a little bull-headed when it comes to Taurus. It has the distinction of being one of the oldest reco. . .

Small Wonders: Ursa Major
[Article | 03/29/06 | by Tom Trusock
Throughout history, Ursa Major has been a recongnizable figure in the night sky. Itís alternately been seen as a bear, three hunters and a bear, a plough,. . .

Small Wonders: Ursa Minor
[Article | 07/11/05 | by Tom Trusock
Ursa Minor is probably one of the best known asterisms in the entire sky. Nearly everyone has heard of the "Little Dipper", but ironically, among non astr. . .

SW: Deep Andromeda - Satellite Galaxies, Star Clouds and Globular Clusters of M31
[Article | 11/26/06 | by Tom Trusock
If you're a long time reader of this series you're probably asking yourself - "Andromeda? Didn't we do that already?" Not like this. . . .

SW: Deep Virgo - Markarian's Chain
[Article | 04/13/08 | by Tom Trusock
Deep in the heart of one of the largest structures in the observable universe lies an improbable chain of potentially interacting galaxies.... . .

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