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Cosmic Challenge: Markarian's Chain

May 01 2021 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Aim your telescope anywhere in the large, seemingly empty gap between the stars Denebola [Beta (β) Leonis] and Vindemiatrix [Epsilon (ε) Virginis] and, given sharp eyes and a dark sky, you are bound to see one or more faint splotches of light somewhere in the eyepiece's field of view. You've entered the Coma-Virgo Realm of Galaxies, a collection of upwards

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The Skies of April, 2021

Apr 04 2021 11:08 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, Perseus, Auriga, Taurus, Orion, Monoceras, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Coma Berenices, Bootes

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Cosmic Challenge: Abell Galaxy Cluster (AGC) 1060

Apr 01 2021 05:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Finding AGC 1060 is a simple task as long as you can spot 4.5-magnitude SAO 179041. This red giant sun overlaps the center of the cluster and lies 4¼° north of Alpha (α) Antliae. Of course, finding Alpha Antliae presents its own challenge, since it shines at only magnitude 4.2 and lies far from any handy reference stars.

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The Skies of March, 2021

Mar 15 2021 08:50 AM | cookman in This Month

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

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Cosmic Challenge: Zeta (ζ) Cancri

Mar 01 2021 07:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

Although it is one of the faintest constellations along the zodiac, Cancer the Crab hosts a variety of targets to test our mettle during the early spring. Spotting M44, the Beehive Cluster, by eye alone may prove very challenging for suburban observers, while the Crab's underappreciated second open cluster, M67, may also reach naked-eye visibility from more rural environs. While the constellation boasts a variety of challenging galaxies, in the test here, we will try our luck with one of the constellation's prettiest binary stars, Zeta (ζ) Cancri.

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The Skies of February, 2021

Feb 05 2021 04:55 PM | 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, Andromeda, Perseus, Auriga, Taurus, Orion, Monoceras, Gemini, Cancer, Leo

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Cosmic Challenge: NGC 2438

Feb 01 2021 07:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

M46 in Puppis is one of my favorite open clusters and a striking sight through just about any telescope. More than 500 stars are crammed into an area just a Moon's diameter across, creating one of the most jam-packed throngs in the winter sky.

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The Skies of January, 2021

Jan 09 2021 10:01 AM | cookman in This Month

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

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Cosmic Challenge: Simeis 147

Jan 01 2021 07:00 AM | PhilH in Phil Harrington's Cosmic Challenge

The year 1054 must have been an active one for stargazers. That was the year that the famous Crab Nebula supernova blasted forth, shining brightly enough for Chinese and Native American skywatchers to note a "new star" blazing near what we now call the tip of one of Taurus the Bull's two horns. The 1054 supernova was so bright that it was visible in broad daylight during the summer of that year and remained visible to the naked eye for nearly a year. Today, we know the fading gaseous remnant of that all-consuming event as the Crab Nebula, M1.

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The Skies of December, 2020

Dec 07 2020 04:23 PM | cookman in This Month

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

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