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Cosmic Challenge: NGC 4361

Apr 03 2024 12:31 PM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Corvus, the celestial crow, flies low in the spring sky as viewed from the northern hemisphere. Located between the constellations Virgo and Hydra, it is easily identifiable by its compact shape resembling a perched bird. The crow carries with it but one notable deep-sky object for backyard telescopes. Planetary nebula NGC 4361 is almost perfectly centered within Corvus's trapezoidal body.

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The Skies of April, 2024

Apr 03 2024 11:39 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, April Moon Focus Constellations: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Lynx, Leo Minor, Canes Venatici, Bootes, Coma Berenices, Leo, Cancer, Gemini, Auriga, Perseus

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The Skies of March, 2024

Mar 21 2024 03:36 PM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, March Moon Focus Constellations: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Lynx, Leo Minor, Coma Berenices, Canes Venatici, Bootes, Leo, Cancer, Gemini, Auriga, Taurus, Perseus

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Cosmic Challenge: NGC 2403

Mar 01 2024 07:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Hovering above the northeastern horizon at this time of year is the obscure constellation Camelopardalis the Giraffe. Though the human eye alone reveals little more than a void populated by a scattering of 4th-magnitude and fainter stars, binoculars begin to unleash some of the beast's latent wonders. One of the Giraffe's few hidden treasures that is visible through binoculars is NGC 2403, a spectacular spiral galaxy tilted nearly face-on to our perspective.

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The Skles of February, 2024

Feb 04 2024 09:54 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, February Moon Focus Constellations: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Lynx, Leo, Cancer, Gemini, Auriga, Taurus, Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus, Aries, Pisces

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Cosmic Challenge: Abell 12

Feb 01 2024 07:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Deep-sky objects can be challenging for several reasons. Some are especially faint, while others are especially small, and still others are so large that they can't fit into a single eyepiece field. Or the problem might be that a particular target is so close to another, noticeably brighter object that the light from that intruder all but obliterates the quarry. The latter problem plagues planetary nebula Abell 12. It shines at about 14th magnitude, which is not exactly bright, but is also not exceptionally dim for a telescope 10 inches (25 cm) or more in aperture. The problem, however, is that it is located a scant arcminute away from 4th-magnitude Mu (μ) Orionis. That's why it's known by the nickname the Hidden Planetary.

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The Skies of January, 2024

Jan 06 2024 02:22 PM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, January Moon Focus Constellations: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Lynx, Leo, Cancer, Gemini, Auriga, Taurus, Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus, Pisces, Aries

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Cosmic Challenge: NGC 1851

Jan 06 2024 12:13 PM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

I thought I'd welcome in the new year with a target that is not challenging due to its faintness, but rather due to its southern location far from any bright stars. NGC 1851 is a 7th-magnitude globular cluster in the constellation Columba, the Dove.

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The Skies of December, 2023

Dec 07 2023 11:30 AM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, December Moon Focus Constellations: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, Cygnus, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Lynx, Gemini, Auriga, Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus, Pisces, Aries, Taurus

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Cosmic Challenge: NGC 51 Galaxy Group

Dec 01 2023 07:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Of the dozens of galaxy groups scattered around the autumn sky, the 136-million-light-year-distant NGC 51 group is one of the more difficult bunches to spot. Although they are not listed among Paul Hickson's compact galaxy groups, the six galaxies here are ideally placed near the zenith in early December evenings for observers at mid-northern latitudes. Its high altitude carries the group far enough above any horizon-hugging interferences that might spoil some of our other challenges.

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