IYA Live Telescope Library: Jupiter & Neptune – The “Helix” Nebula

Hey, hey! We’re baaaaack… The IYA Live Telescope was on-line for the whole night “down under” and we had a chance to watch both Jupiter and Neptune accompanied by a nearby star for several hours – then a later view of the Helix nebula until dawn. If you didn’t get a chance to see it live, don’t worry. As always, we did a video capture to share…

When it comes to viewing Jupiter, sometimes there can always be a bit of a trade-off. In order to see dimmer Neptune, Jupiter must be over-exposed, thereby losing planetary details. Although the planetary pair has separated greatly over the last few days, it’s still nice to be able to catch them nearby each other in the same field of view!

Factual Information Courtesy of Wikipedia:

The Helix Nebula, also known as The Helix or NGC 7293, is a large planetary nebula (PN) located in the constellation of Aquarius. Discovered by Karl Ludwig Harding, probably before 1824, this object is one of the closest to the Earth of all the bright planetary nebulae. The estimated distance is about 215 parsecs or 700 light-years. It is similar in appearance to the Ring Nebula, whose size, age, and physical characteristics are similar to the Dumbbell Nebula, varying only in its relative proximity and the appearance from the equatorial viewing angle.

In this video, the Helix appear quite dim since it really requires a larger aperture telescope. However, you will find it slightly left of center where it makes a brief appearance haloed by faint stars when the image composites and resolves.

Once again, many, many thanks to our generous benefactor from the Mighty ETX group for donating the part needed to bring our IYA telescope back to life again! Please be sure to check the link to your left for future IYA “Live” telescope broadcasts!

IYA Live Telescope Today: NGC 6302 – The “Bug” Nebula

“Baby, breakdown, go ahead give it to me… Breakdown, honey take me through the night. Breakdown, Im standing here, can you see? Breakdown, it’s all right… It’s all right… It’s all right.”. Oh, hi! Were you watching the IYA Live Telescope today? If you were, then you know that we encountered a real “bug” shortly after we aimed at NGC 6302. That’s right. A bipolar nebula caused our little telescope to go bipolar and blow a gasket. But don’t you worry! Dr. Bert “Can Do” is on the scene and fixing things up again. In the mean time, he did manage to capture some live footage of NGC 6302 before we went down and we’re here to share…

NGC 6302 (also called the Bug Nebula or Butterfly Nebula), is a bipolar planetary nebula in the constellation Scorpius. It is one of the most interesting and complex planetary nebulae observed. The spectrum of NGC 6302 shows its central star is one of the hottest objects in the galaxy, with a surface temperature in excess of 200,000 K, implying that the star from which it formed must have been very large. The central star has never been observed and is surrounded by a particularly dense equatorial disc composed of gas and dust. This dense disc is postulated to have caused the star’s outflows to form a bipolar structure (Gurzadyan 1997), similar to an hour-glass. This bipolar structure shows many interesting features seen in planetary nebulae such as ionization walls, knots and sharp edges to the lobes.

As it is included in the New General Catalogue, this object has been known since at least 1888. The earliest known study of NGC 6302 is Edward Emerson Barnard who, in 1907, drew and described it. (Meaburn et al. 2005). Since then it has been the focus of many works and displays many interesting characteristics worthy of study. Interest in recent years has shifted from discussions over the excitation method in the nebula (shock-excitation or photo-ionisation) to the properties of the large dust component.

NGC 6302 has a complex morphology which may be approximated as bipolar with two primary lobes, though there is evidence for a second pair of lobes that may have belonged to a previous phase of mass loss A dark lane runs through the waist of the PN obscuring the central star at all wavelengths. Observations of NGC 6302 suggest that there may be an orthogonal skirt (or chakram) similar to that found in Menzel 3. (Meaburn et al. 2005). The nebula is orientated at an angle of 12.8° against the plane of the sky.

This PN contains a prominent North-West lobe which extends up to 3?.0 away from the central star and is estimated to have formed from an eruptive event around 1,900 years ago. It has a circular part whose walls precisely follow a Hubble-type outflow (where outflow speed is proportional to distance from the central source). At an angular distance of 1?.71 from the central star, the flow velocity of this lobe is measured to be 263 km/s. At the extreme periphery of the lobe, the outward velocity exceeds 600 km/s. The western edge of the lobe displays characteristics suggestive of a collision with pre-existing globules of gas which modified the outflow in that region. (Meaburn et al. 2005)

The prominent dark lane that runs through the centre of the nebula has been shown to have an extraordinary dust chemistry, showing evidence for multiple crystalline silicates and features that have been interpreted by some to be the first extra-solar detection of carbonates. This detection has been disputed, due to the difficulties in forming carbonates in a non-aqueous environment. Other solid state features detected include crystalline water ice and quartz.

One of the most interesting characteristics of the dust detected in NGC 6302 is the existence of both oxygen-rich (i.e. silicates) and carbon-rich (i.e. poly-aromatic-hydrocarbons or PAHs) material. Stars are usually either O-rich or C-rich, the change from the former to the latter occurring late in the evolution of the star due to nuclear and chemical changes in the star’s atmosphere. When a star or nebula is observed to have a dual chemistry it is indicative of a recent change from O-rich chemistry to C-rich chemistry.

Look for the IYA Live Telescope to be up and running again soon, so keep on checking the link to the right and we’ll see you when skies are clear and dark in central Victoria! Ciao for now…

(Factual Information Source: Wikipedia)

IYA Live Telescope Today: NGC 6281

Did you get a chance to watch the IYA Live Telescope today? This time we went hunting galactic open star clusters and we found a beauty! NGC 6281 can be easily spotted in binoculars and small telescopes and we invite you along for the tour. No telescope? No problem. As always, we record a video clip for you so you can enjoy, too!

Your guide star to finding NGC 6281 is Mu Scorpii. About a finger-width east you will find large open galactic star cluster NGC 6281. At magnitude 5.4, you’ll find this sky gem punctuated by a wide pair of 6th magnitude stars. This brightly scattered cluster of three dozen members shows no real nucleus but is easily recognized at low magnifications.

Recent studies have found possible light variations of the member star HD 153919 – identified as an X-ray source. The nebulousity associated with this cluster is also an active HII region and of interest to astronomers wanting to study using Hubble instruments: “We propose a WFPC2 FUV imaging survey of 6 Galactic open clusters with ages ranging from 1 Myr to 300 Myr complemented with NUV/optical imaging of the same fields. No such survey has ever been attempted before in the FUV at the resolution of WFPC2 (indeed, no WFPC2 FUV images of any Galactic open cluster exist in the HST archive) and, since WFPC2 will be retired in SM4 and none of the other HST instruments can do FUV imaging of bright objects, this is the last chance to do such a survey before another UV telescope is launched.” says Dr. Jesus Maiz Apellaniz, “This survey will provide a new perspective on young intermediate age Galactic clusters and a key template for the study of star formation at high redshift, where the intensity peak we observe in the optical/NIR from Earth is located in the FUV in its rest frame. For clusters still associated with an H II region, UV imaging maps the continuum emission of the ionized gas and the radiation scattered by background dust and, combined with optical nebular images, can be used to determine the 3-D structure of the H II region. For all young clusters, FUV+NUV+optical photometry can be used to study the UV excesses of T-Tauri stars. For clusters older than ~40 Myr, the same photometric combination is the easiest method to detect companion white dwarfs which are invisible using only the optical and NIR. WFPC2 is also an excellent instrument to discover close companions around bright stars and improve our knowledge of their multiplicity fraction. Finally, for all clusters, the combination of high-spatial-resolution UV and optical photometry can be used to simultaneously measure the temperature, extinction, extinction law, distance, and existence of companions (resolved and unresolved) and, thus, produce clean HR diagrams with resolved cluster membership and much-reduced systematic uncertainties.”

As always, be sure to enjoy the views from our IYA Live Telescope whenever the skies are clear and dark in Central Victoria by clicking on the link to your right! And have fun… We do!

IYA Live Telescope Today: Messier 80

Did you get a chance to watch the IYA Live Telescope Today? Our target was the extremely compact and bright globular cluster, M80 in the constellation of Scorpius. What a treat! Of course, if you didn’t get a chance to watch it live, we made sure to capture a quick video for you to share….

Messier 80 (also known as M80 or NGC 6093) is a globular cluster in the constellation Scorpius. It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1781.

M80 is located midway between Alpha Scorpii (Antares) and Beta Scorpii in a field in the Milky Way that is rich in nebulae. It can be viewed with modest amateur telescopes as a mottled ball of light. With an apparent diameter of about 10′ and at an estimated distance of 32,600 light-years, M80’s spatial diameter is about 95 light-years and contains several hundred thousand stars. It is among the more densely populated globular clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. M80 contains a relatively large amount of blue stragglers, stars that appear to be much younger than the cluster itself. It is thought these stars have lost part of their outer layers due to close encounters with other cluster members or perhaps the result of collisions between stars in the dense cluster. Images from the Hubble Space Telescope have shown districts of very high blue straggler densities, suggesting that the center of the cluster is likely to have a very high capture and collision rate.

On May 21, 1860, a nova was discovered in M80 that attained a magnitude of +7.0. The nova, variable star designation T Scorpii, reached an absolute magnitude of -8.5, briefly outshining the entire cluster.

As always, you can join us whenever the skies are clear and dark in Central Victoria by clicking on the live remote cam link under the IYA telescope logo to your right. Have a great time!

(Factual Information Source: Wikipedia)

IYA Live Telescope – Kaguya Impact: 18:30 UT / THE MOON

The Japanese lunar orbiter Kaguya will end its two-year mission with a controlled impact on the Moon’s surface on June 10th at 18:30 Universal Time. The impact location is near the southeast limb at 80ºE, 63ºS. If you live in Asia and Australia, you may have the opportunity to observe the impact event… And if you don’t? Then watch on our IYA Live Telescope! We’re focused on the Moon right now and keeping our fingers crossed the clouds stay away….

Thanks for stopping by! We opened up all the extra room we had on our server for the day to accomodate as many people as possible.
Well, we tried our best – and here’s the results.

Did we catch it? Doesn’t look that way… But neither did telescopes 5 times larger than what we’re using. The point is, we tried! One of our friendly photographers was also on the job, so once he’s reviewed his footage for the night, perhaps he managed to catch a flash. If so, we’ll share!

In the meantime, thank you so much for tuning in and we’ll keep those cameras rollin’!

IYA Live Telescope Library – Messier 7

Were you tuned in to Galactic TV last week? If not, you missed an opportunity to visit with Messier object. Although the Moon was shining bright, mighty M7 could still cut through and send us a starry view! If you didn’t get a chance to see it – no worries. We did a video recording for you and saved it. Just step inside the library to watch….

(The following information is a direct quote from Wikipedia.)


Messier 7 or M7, also designated NGC 6475 and sometimes known as known as the Ptolemy Cluster, is an open cluster of stars in the constellation of Scorpius.

The cluster is easily detectable with the naked eye, close to the “stinger” of Scorpius. It has been known since antiquity; it was first recorded by the 1st century astronomer Ptolemy, who described it as a nebula in 130 AD. Giovanni Batista Hodierna observed it before 1654 and counted 30 stars in it. Charles Messier catalogued the cluster in 1764 and subsequently included it in his list of comet-like objects as ‘M7’.

Telescopic observations of the cluster reveal about 80 stars within a field of view of 1.3° across. At the cluster’s estimated distance of 800-1000 light years this corresponds to an actual diameter of 18-25 light years. The age of the cluster is around 220 million years while the brightest star is of magnitude 5.6.

As always, you can visit the remote telescope by clicking on the IYA “LIVE Remote Cam” Logo to your right. We’ll be broadcasting whenever skies are clear and dark in Central Victoria! Enjoy…

Many thanks to all the contributors at Wikipedia for all that you do!

IYA Live Telescope Today: M104, NGC 6231, NGC 55 and Comet C/2009 G1 (STEREO)

Were you tuned in to Galactic TV today? If not, you missed a real treat. The southern skies were exceptionally clear and dark. And you know what happens when you’re photon-deprived, don’t you? Darn right… We played all night. If you didn’t get a chance to see the action, don’t despair. Believe it or not, we really and truly care about giving you an opportunity to see through the eyepiece, too… That’s why we took videos of all of tonight’s objects to share. Why not step inside and have a look at the mysterious Sombrero Galaxy, beautiful open cluster NGC 6231, huge barred irregular galaxy NGC 55 and a surprise treat… Comet C/2009 G1 (STEREO)!

I couldn’t wait to get upstairs to my office today and for the skies to get dark in Central Victoria. I had a feeling that the IYA Live Telescope was going to be doing some great things and I wasn’t disappointed. First object up? M104… the Sombrero Galaxy…

The Sombrero Galaxy (also known as M104 or NGC 4594) is an unbarred spiral galaxy in the constellation Virgo. It has a bright nucleus, an unusually large central bulge, and a prominent dust lane in its inclined disk. The dark dust lane and the bulge give this galaxy the appearance of a sombrero. The galaxy has an apparent magnitude of +9.0, making it easily visible with amateur telescopes. The large bulge, the central supermassive black hole, and the dust lane all attract the attention of professional astronomers.

Sure, the Sombrero is cool and I loved every second of it. But… About the time I had my coffee finished, I had Uranometria open and digging for some southern studies. Chances are I’ll never be well enough, nor rich enough, to visit ‘down under’ so I really want to see some of these clusters with my own eyes. I want to sketch them… Log them… Look up their RA and Dec. I want to call them my own… I want to beg Bert (our intrepid volunteer at Southern Galactic Telescope Hosting who stays up all night just to aim this scope for us for free cuz’ he’s cool… ) to move that scope!

Next up? NGC 6231….

NGC 6231 is an open cluster located near Zeta Scorpii. Zeta1 and Zeta2 Scorpii are members of this star cluster. This cluster is estimated about 3.2 million years old, and is approaching the Solar System at 22 km/s. Very young stars including it, belong to the Scorpius OB association. Zeta1 Scorpii (spectral type O8 and magnitude 4.71.[1]) is hottest star in it. It was discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654. Hodierna listed it as Luminosae[2] in his catalogue of deep sky observations. This catalogue was included in his book De Admirandis Coeli Characteribuse published in 1654 at Palermo. It was independently observed by other astronomers after Hodierna.

Aaaaaaah…. What a beauty! Totally satisfied, I put my sketches away in my desk, logged my information and settled into work. Why be a scope hog? I logged off to give others some free air space and next thing you know? Well, Bert is tugging on my virtual sleeve and telling me to look again. Holy cow… Check this out! He’s got NGC 55 in!!

NGC 55 is a barred irregular galaxy located about 7 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor. NGC 55 and the spiral galaxy NGC 300 have traditionally been identified as members of the Sculptor Group, a nearby group of galaxies in the constellation of the same name. However, recent distance measurements indicate that the two galaxies actually lie in the foreground. It is likely that NGC 55 and NGC 300 form a gravitationally bound pair.

Well, I didn’t think anything could top that. I watched fascinated as the pencil slim galaxy filled the whole screen and the nucleus would scream in and out. I couldn’t believe how huge it was! Structure… my word… We’ve got structure coming out of an edge-on galaxy in a little bitty scope set on the edge of the world. So, I start digging around for my pencils and paper again. More sketches? Yeah. More sketches.

Then Bert really lays one on me. He’s going to try for something even I wouldn’t dream our little IYA scope could pick up. He asks me for some information and brother? I’m on it. I guarantee you within 180 seconds we both had the epoch and charts ready and I even had the coordinates. The instant message said he had to stop for a few minutes to dark adapt and we were going for it… Could it be? Could it happen? Yeah. It did.

Our final target for the day was Comet C/2009 G1 (STEREO). At magnitude 10.2 (RA 0h 37m 26s Dec 37°36’6″) we weren’t going to set any records for showing it bright and beautiful – but considering we’re running with an 80mm scope, we aren’t doing too bad! It’s faint, but it’s darn near center and if you’re good at the eyepiece? You can’t miss it.

Have a look…

Comet C/2009 G1 was discovered by Jiangao Ruan of China who found the 10th magnitude fuzz ball on images taken by the SECCHI HI-1B instrument onboard one of the STEREO spacecraft. Since the comet was discovered in spacecraft data it was naturally named after the spacecraft – and thus the name STEREO. Pretty cool considering the data is public domain and the person who caught it out was an amateur watching what was going on! Congratulations to Jiangao on his 19th find from SOHO and STEREO data in less than a year!

So, while Bert filmed the video for you to try and capture the movement of the comet, I called every comet watcher I knew on the telephone and we were all glued to our monitor screen sketching this comet and comparing star charts and logging the stars for our records. Once crazy? Always crazy. I guess even having a Comet Hunter’s Gold Medal hasn’t stopped the fever! (Hopefully those of you who are also working on your AL comet studies will take the clues I’ve left you and do the same!)

Well, I hope you had as much fun viewing the videos as we did taking them for you! As always, check the IYA Live Telescope for broadcasts whenever you get a chance. We’re working on picking up other observatories around the world and maybe before the end of the year we’ll even be running something 24/7! (yeah, rite… like there’s somewhere in the world that’s not cloudy all the time?)

Italicized information is a direct quotation from Wikipedia and we appreciate it!

IYA Live Telescope Today: Jupiter and Neptune Conjunction – M19

Hey, hey! We’re baaaack… Due to some technical difficulties, our eye on the southern sky has been down for a short time, but I’m happy to report that we’re back up and running again. If you missed our broadcast yesterday and today, have no fear. We recorded the Jupiter and Neptune conjunction for you and captured Messier 19 today, too! Come on… You know you want to look!

Even though it only looks like two dots hanging out on a black background, it’s knowing what those two dots are that counts. In order to get them both in the same frame, we used minimal magnification. Jupiter is the brightest and will appear at the bottom of the frame, while Neptune is fainter and at the top of the frame.

Ready for the next? Then step up to the eyepiece and view Messier Object 19….

(The following is a cut and paste from Wikipedia)

Messier 19 or M19 (also designated NGC 6273) is a globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus.

It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764 and added to his catalogue of comet-like objects that same year.

M19 is the most oblate of the known globular clusters. It is at a distance of about 28,000 light-years from the Solar System, and is quite near to the Galactic Center, at only about 5,200 light-years away.

As always, you can visit the remote telescope by clicking on the IYA “LIVE Remote Cam” Logo to your right. Just remember if you get an error message, that means it is either daylight or cloudy… Or the scope or broadcasting system is dead and so are the volunteers running it. We’ll be broadcasting whenever skies are clear and dark in Central Victoria! Enjoy…

Factual information is copied from Wikipedia. Thank you so much!

IYA Live Telescope Today – 30 Doradus: “The Tarantula Nebula”

Wow… If you had a chance to watch our live remote telescope today, then you were in for an awesome view of the Tarantula Nebula! Although it didn’t last very long before the dew and clouds chased us out, we were still able to take some great images and run some video footage for you to enjoy. Are you ready to have a look? Then step inside the library and brush away the cobwebs…

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 closest supernova since the invention of the telescope, Supernova 1987A, occurred in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula.

As always, you can visit the remote telescope by clicking on the IYA “LIVE Remote Cam” Logo to your right. Just remember if you get an error message, that means it is either daylight or cloudy. We’ll be broadcasting whenever skies are clear and dark in Central Victoria! Enjoy…

Factual information is copied from Wikipedia. Thank you so much!