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The Skies of September, 2020

Sep 12 2020 12:28 PM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Autumnal Equinox, Planet Plotting, September Moon Focus Constellations: Bootes, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, Corona Borealis, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Pegasus, Andromeda, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Perseus Comet Journals

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Cosmic Challenge: Ring Nebula Central Star and Galaxy IC 1296

Sep 01 2020 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

As we say goodbye to summer and get ready to welcome in autumn, I thought I would offer not one, but two challenges this month to bridge the seasonal change. Both appear right next to each other in our sky but are millions of light years apart. And both require all the aperture you can throw at them to be seen.

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The Skies of August, 2020

Aug 08 2020 01:53 PM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, August Moon Focus Constellations: Coma Berenices, Bootes, Ursa Major, Draco, Ursa Minor, Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Cygnus, Aquila, Lyra, Ophiuchus, Hercules, Corona Borealis

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Cosmic Challenge: NGC 6445, The Box Nebula

Aug 01 2020 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

The sky is full of weird sights. And among planetary nebulae, NGC 6445 is one of the strangest. Discovered by William Herschel on May 28, 1786, NGC 6445 shines at 11th magnitude. That's bright enough to be seen even through giant binoculars. Although visible in smaller apertures, it takes a 6-inch telescope for NGC 6445's true, if bizarre, nature to shine through. The nebula's brighter central shell looks like a dented rectangle. Nature rarely creates an amorphous form with sharp edges, and indeed, the peculiar appearance of NGC 6445 is due largely to our perspective as well as its age. But the look is very odd nonetheless. No wonder NGC 6445 has been nicknamed the Box Nebula.

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Cosmic Challenge: Seyfert's Sextet

Jul 06 2020 03:00 PM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Seyfert's Sextet, known to many as Hickson Compact Galaxy Group 79, is a tight gathering of galaxies in the northern corner of Serpens Caput. Serpens Caput is the western segment of this bisected constellation, marking the triangular head of the serpent that Ophiuchus is handling. Observing Seyfert's Sextet has been one of my pet projects for years. It's a fun little galactic rat pack for summer outings before we plunge headlong into the summer Milky Way.

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June - July Skies

Jul 06 2020 02:38 PM | cookman in This Month

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Summer Solstice, Planet Plotting, June/July Moon Focus Constellations: Leo, Coma Berenices, Bootes, Ursa Major, Draco, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Cygnus, Aquila, Lyra, Ophiuchus, Hercules, Corona Borealis

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Cosmic Challenge: Rupes Recta (Straight Wall), Huygen's Sword, Birt, and Rima Birt

Jun 01 2020 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

What is your favorite lunar feature? Maybe it's the mighty craters Copernicus or Tycho. Or could it be the historic Sea of Tranquility? Perhaps you enjoy visiting the rugged southern highlands around Clavius, or the Apennine and Alp Mountains. If I had to come up with my favorite target, it would have to be a far more modest sight. I always enjoy looking for and at the Straight Wall.

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Cosmic Challenge: Two Pairs

May 01 2020 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Most agree that the Messier catalog of deep-sky objects stands as the finest single compilation of star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies visible from the northern hemisphere. When it comes time to single out the finest of the list's 109 entries, however, we often have trouble agreeing. Is it the Orion Nebula, M42; the Great Globular Cluster, M13; or maybe the Ring Nebula, M57? So many choices! One thing is for certain -- you'll never find Messier's 40th entry on anyone's "finest" list.

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Cosmic Challenge: Leo Trio 2

Apr 01 2020 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

You have undoubtedly heard of the Leo Trio, made up of M65, M66, and NGC 3628. But how about the Leo Trio 2? The Leo Trio 2 are tucked snuggly into the constellation's northernmost quadrant, some 7° north of the Leo "sickle."

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March 2020 Skies

Mar 04 2020 04:49 PM | cookman in This Month

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

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