: By Nan D'AntuonoThe Great Bear Ursa Major is high in the north these Spring evenings. Along his southwestern border, shared with the constellations Lynx, Leo Minor, and Leo lie the three distinctive pairs of third magnitude stars known from ancient times by many names, one of the best known of which is the charming name "The Three Leaps of the Gazelle." Three of the six leap stars are wonderful doubles, and there are many more awaiting discovery in Ursa Major.
: By Glenn ChapleTo most deep sky enthusiasts, spring means “galaxies.” Hundreds of these island universes – many in the Coma-Virgo cluster – are within the reach of backyard scopes. Often forgotten are the beautiful double stars that also inhabit the spring skies. Here are ten of the best:
: By Glenn ChapleFor our spring double star selection, we’ll say goodbye to Gemini and shift eastward to the faint constellation Cancer. Notable for its bright Messier cluster M44 (the Praesepe), Cancer is also home to a splendid array of double and multiple stars. How many can you notch? (Data from the Washington Double Star Catalog (WDS)
: By Craig CortisThose of you who enjoyed my first installment on this subject will find this second part to be even better. Three constellations are covered on the accompanying list of recommended objects and two—Virgo and Coma Berenices-feature the grandest, richest assortment of galaxies bright enough to be seen in small-to-medium aperture instruments.
: By Craig CortisReaders having 8” or larger telescopes might wish to observe a quasar, provided you can follow a detailed finder chart and manage to isolate a 12.8 magnitude object that looks exactly like a star, but actually is not. Rather it’s the brightest known quasar and, at a distance of 2.5 billion light years, will be by far and away the most distant thing in the universe most of you will ever see in your lives.
: By Glenn ChapleTo the deep-sky aficionado, spring means one thing – galaxies. Dozens of these island universes are within the grasp of small-aperture telescopes, while a 10-inch Dob can corral thousands. The constellation Leo is home to some of the brighter spring galaxies, including five listed in the Messier Catalog. One, however, escaped the eye of the French comet-hunter, even though it’s visible in binoculars from dark-sky locations.
: By Glenn Chaple“How far can you see with that telescope?” It’s a question I occasionally hear from visitors who peer into my telescope at public star parties. The farthest my telescopes have taken my eye, I tell them, is 2 billion light years - to the quasar 3C 273.
: By Glenn ChapleOn the evening of March 1, 1918, a young Ohio farm boy trained a small refracting telescope towards the variable star R Leonis. He estimated its brightness, later forwarding the information to the American Association of Variable Star Observers. It was the first of over 132.000 variable star observations the legendary Leslie Peltier would submit to the AAVSO.
: By Glenn ChapleCompiling a list of the finest double stars for backyard telescopes is always a work in progress. The list is forever in flux, because many showpiece double stars are binary systems that periodically close to the point where they can’t be resolved by small-aperture telescopes. Such is the case with Porrima (gamma [γ] Virginis).
: By Jim HendricksonWith the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere comes the culmination of the northern sky’s most recognized asterism, the Big Dipper. This familiar group of seven stars is notable for having a clear resemblance to its namesake (it is easy to imagine it forming the shape of a large spoon), but how much do you really know about the Big Dipper?
: By Glenn ChapleOne of the best examples of a star-hop is the one that takes us from Mizar (the middle star in the Handle of the Big Dipper) to the face-on spiral galaxy M101. It’s a fortuitous situation because, were it isolated, M101 might be one of the more difficult Messier objects to locate.
: By Glenn ChapleOne of the more noteworthy examples of an edge-on spiral galaxy bisected by a dark dust lane is M104, the Sombrero Galaxy. The nick-name arises from the galaxy’s resemblance to the traditional Mexican headwear, the bright nuclear bulge forming the hat and the spiral arms/dust lane the wide brim.
Eyes on the Sky makes it easier for anyone to find objects in the night sky and/or learn how to use astronomy equipment, and educates about smarter lighting practices. Take a look at the weekly videos to learn what YOU can find in the night sky, this week - naked eye, binocular and telescopic objects are always discussed, so anyone can look up and see planets, stars and other deep sky objects.
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