- Review: Explore Scientific 16”, Europe edition, late 2016
- VITE 2X Barlow Lens Review
- Sky Commander Review
- Wireless Control of Canon EOS DSLRs with DSLR Controller and TP-Link MR3040 W...
- Review of the 18” f/5 Otte binodobson
- Wireless Telescope Control for Celestron (and Compatible) Scopes
- A Review of Teeter STS18
- MesuMount 200 Review
- First Light with the Prototype 8x42 Space WalkerTM 3D Binoculars
- INTERSTELLARUM DEEP-SKY ATLAS (FIELD EDITION) REVIEW
- THE BAADER BBHS-SITALL SILVER DIAGONAL
- Explore Scientific AR 102
- Review: davejlec's Paralellogram Mount
- Annals of the Deep Sky, Volumes One and Two
- Discovery 17.5” Split Tube Dobsonian Telescope
CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.
One of the greatest naked-eye challenges goading amateur astronomers around the world is trying to spot the elusive arc of nebulosity known as Barnard's Loop. Cataloged officially as Sharpless 2-276, Barnard's Loop is a ghostly, 10°-wide semicircular bow of nebulosity that wraps around the eastern side of Orion, the Hunter. In long exposure photographs, it bears the unmistakable resemblance to portions of the Veil Nebula supernova remnant in Cygnus. Spotting it by eye stands as a monumental test for observers.
Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, December Solstice, Planet Plotting, December Moon
Focus Constellations: Camelopardalis, Auriga, Gemini, Orion, Taurus, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cepheus, Draco, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Lynx
Let's begin this challenge with a riddle. What's big and round, close at hand, and yet nearly impossible to see? If you answered "the Fornax Dwarf Galaxy," then you are correct! The Fornax Dwarf, a dwarf spheroidal system, covers a 17'x13' area of our late autumn sky and lies about 530,000 light years from the Milky Way. That's well within the confines of our Local Group of galaxies. And with a magnitude rating of 9.3, it sounds like it should be bright and easy to see. But when we look its way, it's not there. Even the best photos manage to record only an incredibly dim, elliptical haze peppered by some 19th-magnitude stars!
Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Polar Reversal?, Planet Plotting, November Moon
Focus Constellations: Camelopardalis, Auriga, Taurus, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cepheus, Cygnus, Lyra, Draco, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Bootes
As a group, emission nebulae, or Hydrogen-II regions, are the most difficult deep-sky objects to see visually. The problem is that they radiate light in very narrow segments of the visible spectrum, with their brightest emissions in the red wavelengths. As luck would have it, the human eye is all but color blind to red light under dim light conditions. Arguably, the only objects more difficult to spot than emission nebulae are the opaque profiles of dark nebulae. These cosmic dust clouds are themselves invisible; we only see their silhouettes against the starry backdrop. No starry backdrop, no dark nebula; it's that simple. And that brings us to this month's double challenge in Cygnus. IC 5146, known to many by its nickname, the Cocoon Nebula, is a taxing patch of glowing gas, while Barnard 168 is a thin, sinuous lane of darkness that seems to start at the nebula and extend far to its northwest.
Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Halloween, Planet Plotting, October Moon
Focus Constellations: Camelopardalis, Auriga, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cepheus, Cygnus, Lyra, Aquila, Hercules, Draco, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Bootes
Of the more than 130 globular clusters gravitationally linked to our Milky Way galaxy, only four are known to contain planetary nebulae. The best known example of a planetary/globular pairing is Pease 1 found within M15 in Pegasus. That's this month's Cosmic Challenge.
Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Autumnal Equinox, Planet Plotting, September Moon
Focus Constellations: Camelopardalis, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cepheus, Cygnus, Lyra, Aquila, Ophiuchus, Hercules, Draco, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Bootes
Last month, I offered up two planetary nebulae for smaller apertures. This month, we again hunt for a pair of planetaries. This time, however, we may need a little more oomph to get the job done.