IYA Live Telescope – M50

Did you get a chance to check out the IYA Live Telescope? Our last object was Messier 50 (also known as M 50 or NGC 2323) is an open cluster in the constellation Monoceros. It was perhaps discovered by G. D. Cassini before 1711 and independently discovered by Charles Messier in 1772. M50 is at a distance of about 3,000 light-years away from Earth. It is described as a ‘heart-shaped’ figure. You’ll find the video inside!

Open cluster Messier 50 (M50, NGC 2323) is a pretty and considerably bright object located in a rich part of stars and nebulae in constellation Monoceros, near its border to Canis Major. It is easily seen in binoculars and well resolved in even a small telescope.

This cluster was discovered on April 5, 1772 by Charles Messier, but possibly G.D. Cassini had already discovered it before 1711, according to a report by his son, Jacques Cassini, in his book of 1740, Elements of Astronomy.

Open cluster M50 is probably about 3,200 light years distant. Its angular diameter of about 15×20′ therefore corresponds to a linear extension of about 20 light-years, the central dense part being only about 10′ or 10 light-years in diameter. J.E. Gore, from photographic plates taken by Isaac Roberts in 1893, has estimated its population as about 200 stars in the main body. The cluster’s Trumpler type is given as I,2,m (Glyn Jones), II,3,m (Sky Catalog 2000) or II,3,r (Götz). The visual appearance is described as a “heart-shaped figure” by Mallas and Kreimer.

According to Kenneth Glyn Jones, the brightest star is of spectral type B8 and mag 9.0, while the Sky Catalog 2000 gives spectral type B6 and mag 7.85, and the age is estimated as 78 million years. 7′ south of the center is a red M giant, contrasting prominently against its blue-white neighbor stars. The cluster also contains some yellow giants.

IYA Live Telescope: Mmmm, Mmmmm, Good!

If you’ve had an opportunity over the last few days to check in on our IYA “Live” Telescope, we’ve been keeping an eye on the Messier Catalog Objects for you… specifically some bright open clusters named M46, M47 and M48! If you didn’t get a chance to catch them while they were on the air, then feel free to have a look at our video capture…

Messier 46 (also known as M 46 or NGC 2437) is an open cluster in the constellation of Puppis. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1771. Dreyer described it as “very bright, very rich, very large.” M46 is about 5,500 light-years away with an estimated age on the order of several 100 million years.

The planetary nebula NGC 2438 appears to lie within the cluster near its northern edge (the faint smudge at the top center of the image), but it is most likely unrelated since it does not share the cluster’s radial velocity.[1][2] The case is yet another example of a superposed pair, joining the famed case of NGC 2818. M46 is about a degree east of M47 in the sky, so the two fit well in a binocular or wide-angle telescope field.

Ready for the next? Let’s go….

Open Cluster M47 (also known as Messier Object 47 or NGC 2422) is an open cluster in the constellation Puppis. It was discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654 and independently discovered by Charles Messier on February 19, 1771.

M47 is at a distance of about 1,600 light-years from Earth with an estimated age of about 78 million years. There are about 50 stars in this cluster, the brightest one being of magnitude +5.7.

And before we go…

Messier 48 (also known as M 48 or NGC 2548) is an open cluster in the Hydra constellation. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1771.

M48 is visible to the naked eye under good atmospheric conditions. Its age is estimated to amount 300 million years.

As always, check when you have an opportunity to catch the IYA “Live” telescope in action!

Factual information courtesy of Wikipedia.

IYA “Live” Telescope Today – NGC 7009

Did you get a chance to catch the live action on our southern hemisphere based telescope today? Then you missed a real treat! We had a chance to view NGC 7009 – the “Saturn Nebula” live for several hours. Of course, the small aperture of the scope doesn’t do it the incredible justice that it deserves from the pristine skies in Central Victoria’s Macedon Ranges Observatory, but wow… It sure was cool! If you didn’t get a chance to see it, then thank Scopemaster Bert for shooting a video for us and make some popcorn. It’s waiting inside….

The Saturn Nebula (also known as NGC 7009) is a planetary nebula in the Aquarius constellation. It was discovered by William Herschel on September 7, 1782 using a telescope of his own design in the garden at his home in Datchet England and was one of his earliest discoveries in his sky survey. The nebula was originally a low-mass star that transformed into a rather bright white dwarf star, magnitude 11.5. The Saturn Nebula gets its name from its superficial resemblance to the planet Saturn with its rings nearly edge-on to the observer. It was so named by Lord Rosse in the 1840s, when telescopes had improved to the point that its Saturn-like shape could be discerned. William Henry Smyth said that the Saturn Nebula is one of Struve’s 9 “Rare Celestial Objects.”

The distance to the Saturn nebula is not known very well because there are no reference stars in its neighborhood that have been detected and could be used to accurately gauge its distance. Therefore, any distance is somewhat suspect. Hynes estimates it to be 2,400 light-years distance from earth. In 1963, O’Dell estimated the distance to be 3,900 light-years.

The object is on many ‘best of’ observing lists, including: SAC 110 best NGC object list, RASC’s Finest N.G.C. Objects Objects, and The Caldwell Catalog #55.

As always, be sure to tune in whenever you get an opportunity. You’ll find the link to the IYA “Live” Telescope to your right. We broadcast whenever we get a chance and you’re always welcome here!

Factual information courtesy of Wikipedia.

IYA (Almost) Live Telescope!

Greetings! In case you weren’t tuned into Galactic TV yesterday… We had us a regular skyfest! Truly pristine dark skies ruled and the IYA “Live” telescope rocked the Aussie night away. For more than 8 hours we went from target to target – and loved every minute of it. While we could have done a lot more than four objects, allowing you time to enjoy them is a worthwhile effort, too. While I’d ordinarily spread this over a couple of days I’m going to post all our objects – M2, M41, M93 and M46 – right now because I’m outta’ here for the Hidden Hollow Star Party. Want to party at your end? Then check out information on our iPhone Galactic TV Weekend Marathon! Enjoy!!

Messier 2 or M2 (also designated NGC 7089) is a globular cluster in the constellation Aquarius, five degrees north of the star Beta Aquarii. It was discovered by Jean-Dominique Maraldi in 1746 and is one of the largest known globular clusters.

M2 was discovered by the French astronomer Jean-Dominique Maraldi in 1746 while observing a comet with Jacques Cassini. Charles Messier rediscovered it in 1760 but thought it a nebula without any stars associated with it. William Herschel was the first to resolve individual stars in the cluster, in 1794. M2 is, under extremely good conditions, just visible to the naked eye. Binoculars or small telescopes will identify this cluster as non-stellar while larger telescopes will resolve individual stars, of which the brightest are of apparent magnitude 13.1.

M2 is about 37,500 light-years away from Earth. At 175 light-years in diameter, it is one of the larger globular clusters known. The cluster is rich, compact, and significantly elliptical. It is 13 billion years old and one of the older globulars associated with the Milky Way Galaxy. M2 contains about 150,000 stars, including 21 known variable stars. Its brightest stars are red and yellow giants. The overall spectral type is F4.

Messier 41 (also known as M41 or NGC 2287) is an open cluster in the Canis Major constellation. It was discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654 and was perhaps known to Aristotle about 325 BC.

M41 lies about four degrees almost exactly south of Sirius. It contains about 100 stars including several red giants, the brightest being a spectral type K3 giant near the cluster’s center. The cluster is estimated to be moving away from us at 23.3 km/s. The diameter of the cluster is between 25 and 26 light years. Its age is estimated at between 190 and 240 million years old. M41 is also referred to as NGC 2287.

Messier 93 (also known as M 93 or NGC 2447) is an open cluster in the constellation Puppis. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1781.

M93 is at a distance of about 3,600 light years from Earth and has a spatial radius of some 10 to 12 light years. Its age is estimated at some 100 million years.

Messier 46 (also known as M 46 or NGC 2437) is an open cluster in the constellation of Puppis. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1771. Dreyer described it as “very bright, very rich, very large.” M46 is about 5,500 light-years away with an estimated age on the order of several 100 million years.

The planetary nebula NGC 2438 appears to lie within the cluster near its northern edge, but it is most likely unrelated since it does not share the cluster’s radial velocity. The case is yet another example of a superposed pair, joining the famed case of NGC 2818.

M46 is about a degree east of M47 in the sky, so the two fit well in a binocular or wide-angle telescope field.

If you had fun with this, then make sure to tune into your TVU Channel Number 79924 on your iPhone for a weekend marathon of all the best of our IYA Live Telescope! Wishing you all clear skies and a great weekend….

Factual information courtesy of Wikipedia.

IYA Live Telescope Today: Messier 93

At last… Some clear skies in Central Victoria! (and i thought ohio was bad…) If you had a chance to check on our IYA Live Telescope today, you got a treat. We broadcast the “Running Man Nebula” for awhile, then switched over to Puppis as it rose to pick up Messier 93. Need a replay? We saved one for you…

Messier 93 (also known as M 93 or NGC 2447) is an open cluster in the constellation Puppis. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1781.

M93 is at a distance of about 3,600 light years from Earth and has a spatial radius of some 10 to 12 light years. Its age is estimated at some 100 million years.

As always, keep checking periodically with the link on the left. It can’t stay cloudy forever… Can it?!?

Factual Information courtesy of Wikipedia.

IYA Live Telescope Today: NGC 247, the Burbidge Galaxy Chain and the Running Man Nebula

Did you get a chance to watch the IYA “Live” Telescope today? We were on! And now we’ve got some exciting news for you… You can watch via your iPhone on TVU! That’s right… We’re now broadcasting on Channel 79924 as Northern and Southern Galactic TV. You can watch Galactic TV via your iPhone by installing TVUPlayer from the App Store! Now… Are you ready for today’s video? Then hang on tight as we take you a walk to NGC 247, the Burbidge Galaxy Chain and the Running Man Nebula! It’s time to rock….

Skies were clear and dark in Central Victoria and it was time to fire up the IYA Live Telescope and get the party started. We’re testing out a new system that will allow more viewers an opportunity to see through the virtual eyepiece and we’re ready to get the scope set on a something really far out. Our first object? NGC 247 and the Burbidge Galaxy Chain in the constellation of Cetus…

This interesting chain of four MCG galaxies lies only 18 arc minutes NNE of NGC 247, a giant member of the nearby Sculptor Group. (NGC 247 itself is 9th-magnitude but of very low surface brightness, which can make it tough to spot in a smaller scope.) In itself, NGC 247 is an Intermediate spiral galaxy located over 12 million light years away. Talk about a long distance phone call!

The northernmost and southernmost members of the chain are relatively easy to pick up in a 17.5″ scope. That’s aperture – not tube length! Bwahahahahaaaaa….

Last object for the night? Lace up your Nikes, cuz’ we’re heading for NGC 1977, the “Running Man Nebula” in Orion…

NGC 1973/5/7 is a reflection nebula 1/2 degree northeast of the Orion Nebula. The three NGC objects are divided by darker regions.

It was discovered on January 18, 1784 by Sir William Herschel, seasoned sky veterans know this area by its nickname ‘‘the Running Man’’. Consisting of three separate areas of emission and reflection nebulae that seem to be visually connected, 1,500-light-year-distant NGC 1977/1975/1973 complex would be spectacular on its own if weren’t so close to M42! The conjoining nebula is whispery soft, its dark lanes created by interstellar dust and fine needle-like shards of carbon. Illuminating the gases is its fueling source, the multiple star 42 Orionis—a prized double on many lists. Through a telescope, this lovely triangle of bright nebulae and its several enshrouded stars make a wonderful region for exploration. Can you see the Running Man within?

As of the time of this posting, the scope was still up and running… along with the nebula! We’re making every effort when the sky is clear to keep the view coming at you, dear reader. So keep checking back often and enjoy the new iPhone application! If things keep working the way they should, you should be able to enjoy a video loop of many of our best objects at all times… We hope!

Fingers crossed…

The IYA “Almost Live” Telescope – M45 and M42

Well, as luck would have it – it’s cloudy in Central Victoria again. For those manning the IYA “Almost Live” Telescope, we had a feeling that just might happen, so when we had a clear night? Hey… We took advantage of it and did as many objects as possible. Although you might have caught the action as it happened about 24 hours ago, it ain’t happenin’ now – so why not kick back and enjoy a few seconds at the eyepiece courtesy of a video capture? We always think of you. Step right this way. Your virtual eyepiece is waiting….

In astronomy, the Pleiades, or seven sisters, (Messier object 45) are an open star cluster in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. Pleiades has several meanings in different cultures and traditions.

The cluster is dominated by hot blue stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. Dust that forms a faint reflection nebulosity around the brightest stars was thought at first to be left over from the formation of the cluster (hence the alternate name Maia Nebula after the star Maia), but is now known to be an unrelated dust cloud in the interstellar medium that the stars are currently passing through. Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will disperse due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood.

And our last target for the night? Oh… You got it…

The Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42, M42, or NGC 1976) is a diffuse nebula situated south of Orion’s Belt. It is one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye in the night sky. M42 is located at a distance of 1,344±20 light years and is the closest region of massive star formation to Earth. The M42 nebula is estimated to be 24 light years across. Older texts frequently referred to the Orion Nebula as the Great Nebula in Orion or the Great Orion Nebula. Yet older, astrological texts refer to it as Ensis (Latin for “sword”), which was also the name given to the star Eta Orionis, which can be seen close to the nebula from Earth.

The Orion Nebula is one of the most scrutinized and photographed objects in the night sky, and is among the most intensely studied celestial features. The nebula has revealed much about the process of how stars and planetary systems are formed from collapsing clouds of gas and dust. Astronomers have directly observed protoplanetary disks, brown dwarfs, intense and turbulent motions of the gas, and the photo-ionizing effects of massive nearby stars in the nebula. There are also supersonic “bullets” of gas piercing the dense hydrogen clouds of the Orion Nebula. Each bullet is ten times the diameter of Pluto’s orbit and tipped with iron atoms glowing bright blue. They were probably formed one thousand years ago from an unknown violent event.

As always, keep checking! We’ll have the scope up and running whenever there is an opportunity and keep an eye out for something very new and exciting we’re about to add!

Factual Information courtesy of Wikipedia

IYA Live Telescope Today: Delta Gruis and the “Tarantula Nebula”

Hey, folks! What a treat. The skies were clear and dark in central Victoria earlier and the beautiful double star – Delta Gruis – came out to play. Afterwards we homed in on the incredibly bright Tarantula Nebula. While you’re at it, you might want to update your bookmarks to this IYA Live Telescope link. Now… Go and look at our new video! Once in awhile you can even see other portions the Magellanic Cloud in there, too!

The stars that form Grus were originally considered part of Piscis Austrinus (the southern fish), and the Arabic names of many of its stars reflect this classification.

The stars were first defined as a separate constellation by Petrus Plancius, who created twelve new constellations based on the observations of Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman. Grus first appeared on a 35-cm diameter celestial globe published in 1597 (or 1598) in Amsterdam by Plancius with Jodocus Hondius. Its first depiction in a celestial atlas was in Johann Bayer’s Uranometria of 1603. Plancius chose the crane because that bird was considered to symbolise watchfulness. An alternative name for the constellation, Phoenicopterus (Latin for flamingo), was used briefly in England during the 17th century.

Now that it’s good and dark and we’ve got a bit before the Moon, let’s take a look at something even more fantastic… the Tarantula Nebula!

The Tarantula Nebula (also known as 30 Doradus, or NGC 2070) is an H II region in the Large Magellanic Cloud. It was originally thought to be a star, but in 1751 Nicolas Louis de Lacaille recognized its nebular nature.

The Tarantula Nebula has an apparent magnitude of 8. Considering its distance of about 180,000 light years, this is an extremely luminous non-stellar object. Its luminosity is so great that if it were as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would cast shadows. In fact, it is the most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies. It is also the largest and most active such region in the Local Group with an estimated diameter of 200 pc.

The nebula resides on the leading edge of the LMC, where ram pressure stripping, and the compression of the interstellar medium
likely resulting from this, is at a maximum. At its core lies the extremely compact cluster of stars (~2.5 pc diameter) – R136a – that produces most of the energy that makes the nebula visible. The estimated mass of the cluster is 450,000 solar masses, suggesting it will likely become a globular cluster in future.

In addition to R136, the Tarantula Nebula also contains an older star cluster—catalogued as Hodge 301—with an age of 20–25 million years. The most massive stars of this cluster have already exploded in supernovae. The closest supernova since the invention of the telescope, Supernova 1987A, occurred in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula.

As always, check back periodically on the IYA “Live” telescope. It can’t be cloudy forever!

Factual Information Source: Wikipedia

IYA Live Telescope Today: M11 and 47 Tucanae

Did you get a chance to check out the IYA “Live” Telescope today? After a prolonged period of clouds and bad weather in Central Victoria, we at least had a partially clear night. Our two objects for the evening were Messier 11 and stunning globular cluster 47 Tucanae. If you didn’t get a chance to see them, why not step inside? We’re making popcorn and playing a re-run…

Since we’ve done both these objects before under better sky conditions, why not show you the better video? Without further ado, here’s some information from Wikipedia:

The Wild Duck Cluster (also known as Messier 11, or NGC 6705) is an open cluster in the constellation Scutum. It was discovered by Gottfried Kirch in 1681. Charles Messier included it in his catalogue in 1764.

The Wild Duck Cluster is one of the richest and most compact of the known open clusters, containing about 2900 stars. Its age has been estimated to about 220 million years. Its name derives from the brighter stars forming a triangle which could represent a flying flock of ducks.

47 Tucanae (NGC 104) or just 47 Tuc is a globular cluster located in the constellation Tucana. It is about 16,700 light years away from Earth, and 120 light years across. It can be seen with the naked eye, and it is bright enough to earn a Flamsteed designation with a visual magnitude of 4.0. It is one of only a small number of features in the southern sky with such a designation.

47 Tucanae was discovered by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1751, its southern location having hidden it from European observers until then. (And even with hazy, moonlit skies, this bad boy was bright in the eyepiece! WOW! I can only imagine what it would look like to see it in person…)

It has 22 known millisecond pulsars, and at least 21 blue stragglers near the core. 47 Tucanae is included in Sir Patrick Moore’s Caldwell catalogue as C106. NGC 104 competes with NGC 5139 for the title: Most splendid Globular Cluster in the sky. NGC 104 has two features in its favour. It is rounder and has a more compact core. However due to location more observers go for NGC 5139.

Until next time, keep on checking the IYA Live Telescope link to your right when you have the chance! Like many areas of the world undergoing seasonal change… It can’t stay cloudy forever. Or can it?

(Factual Information Source: Wikipedia)

IYA Live Telescope Today: Fomalhaut – Alpha Piscis Austrini

Located just south of the ecliptic plane, Piscis Austrinus was one of the original 48 constellations charted by Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations adopted by the IAU. Spanning 245 square degrees of sky, it ranks 60th in size. Piscis Austrinus contains 7 mains stars in its asterism and has 21 Bayer Flamsteed designated stars within its confines. It is bordered by the constellations of Capricornus, Microscopium, Grus, Sculptor and Aquarius. Piscis Austrinus can be seen by all observers located at latitudes between +55° and -90° and is best seen at culmination during the month of October. Today the IYA “Live” Telescope was aimed at its brightest star… Wanna’ see?

Piscis Austrinus is also known as Piscis Australis – Latin for the “Southern Fish”. Prior to the 20th century, it was also known as Piscis Notius. In mythology it is said to represent the parent of Pisces. Perhaps the legend came from the Syrians who did not eat fish, but worshipped them as gods. The Greeks also kept fish ponds at their temples and one legend tells of woman who was turned into a mermaid when she threw herself into a pond in a suicide attempt. There are those who believe Pisces Austrinus is associated with the Assyrian fish god Dagon and the Babylonian god Oannes, but at least all accounts give a rather “fishy” tale!

Let’s take a look at Piscis Austrinus’ brightest star – Alpha – the “a” symbol on a star chart. Alpha Piscis Austrini is best known as Fomalhaut – the “Mouth of the Whale”. This class-A main sequence star is about 25 light years from Earth, and like Vega, has an excess of infra-red radiation which indicated a circumstellar disk. Not only does it have a disk, but it has an extrasolar planet, too… One that was photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope between 2004 and 2006 and confirmed in 2008! The Jupiter-sized planet orbits about 11 billion miles away from the parent star and takes about 872 years to make the full trip – and may very well have a ring system which dwarf’s that of Saturn’s.

As stars go, Fomalhaut is quite interesting enough on its own. In ancient times it was considered one of the four “royal” stars that marked the cardinal directions and Ptolemy gave it astrological significance as well. It is a young star, maybe around 100 to 300 million years old and part of the Castor Group of Moving Stars. The stellar association in the Castor group include stars of similar age, origin and similar velocity and include Castor, Fomalhaut, Vega, Alpha Cephei and Alphae Librae. All of these stars may have originated from the same location at some point in time which may have made them part of star cluster. In binoculars you will also notice another nearby star – TW Piscis Austrini – it is also a member of this group and may actually be a physical companion of Fomalhaut. Keep a watch on TW, though! Because as its two letter designation indicates, it is a variable star… But not just any variable. TW Piscis Austrini is a flare star! While flares can erupt periodically within a matter of hours or days with no predictable timetable, TW is also a prime candidate for harboring an Earth-like habitable zone, too!