The Good Ole Southern Sky

You would think that after a few months of putting the telescope in the same place every night, I would have thought to move it to reveal a different part of the sky.  Trees generally block my view of the far South, but tonight I switched things up and moved the telescope next to my parents new 2010 Dodge Minivan (this thing is like the space shuttle, it has awesome features).

Finding Pluto…Yeah Right
The initial goal for the evening was to hunt down Pluto, located to the South a little bit above Messier 24, the great Sagittarius Star Cloud.  That was until I viewed M24 and realized how dense it was with stars.  I might have actually viewed Pluto tonight, but it would be near impossible to know which of the thousands of stars I was looking at was everyone’s favorite dwarf planet.  Talk about finding a needle in a hay stack, this picture of the star cloud to the right shows how difficult a task it was.

The Messier Bunch
While planning the night, I noticed that Pluto was near a few Messier objects I had never viewed.  This would be a perfect opportunity to check off some more objects for my ultimate messier hunt.  Located to the South West of Sagittarius were the Eagle Nebula, Swan Nebula, Sagittarius Star Cloud, Trifid Nebula and the Lagoon Nebula.  All were a treat to view, with the exception of the Eagle Nebula, which I had a particularly hard time making out for some reason.

The Lord of the Ring

Nothing tonight compared to the spectacular view received by viewing Messier 57, the Ring Nebula, for the first time.  It appeared as a very defined circular cloud of smoke with a gray hue in the center.  Viewing at 120X magnification revealed it’s circular definition even further (A good example of what I viewed can be found to the left).  Its defining shape comes from a star, very similar to our own sun, that has used up all of its hydrogen and is shooting gasses out into space as it dies and becomes a red giant.  While, most nebula’s have the same faint cloud like shape, the Ring Nebula is something truly unique that seems as though it was stamped onto the sky.

Star Log: July 10, 2010

Hubble Space Telescope Image of the Ring Nebula

(Just a little better than what I saw….a little)

6 thoughts on “The Good Ole Southern Sky

  1. How dare you call Pluto a planet… 134340 Pluto is the largest body in the Kuiper belt, but should not be considered a planet in our solar system.

    But if you must refer to it as a dwarf planet, do so by including everyone’s second favorite (or some people’s favorite) dwarf, the larger dwarf 136199 Eris.

    Have you ever tried to find 1 Ceres?

    • Peter Parker has no clue what he’s talking about… Pluto is the second largest body in the Kuiper belt. It sounds like he might know what he’s talking about from the second paragraph, but who knows.

      Pluto will always be a planet in my book.

  2. On more than 2 occasions I wrote, then subsequently deleted, posts concerning finding Pluto… (June 25th), I figured joking the reason why you had “all planets present and accounted for” is because it would be a real fun time to know which of those dim specks of light were pluto… so logically why not just discount it as a planet, astronomers have, so why not. Ya, I know Pluto is a KBO… but going on 40 now… old habits die hard.

    I devised a plan to find it, but I really need to get my scope to some dark skies, cause at my home site I’m unable to get that far down in magnitude (especially that close to one of my worst light domes) to even see it at all let alone hunt for it in thousands of similarly lit stars. I figured when I went to Spruce knob at night I was going to do this

    The above link, links the picture you posted of the star cloud, luckily Pluto is pretty close to one of those dark spots which should be pretty conspicuous, considering the rest of the sky is filled with glittering jewels. I’ll put this to task at home (trying to find the dark spot with the one star inside it, but it is a plan at least).

    For sentimental sake, I’m going to track down what use to be the 9th planet of the solar system. It may not be this year, or with this scope.

    I’ve been saving the rest of the outer planets for a little later this year, probably August. And then I too, will have all planets present and accounted for.

    In my LP I haven’t had any luck with seeing the Eagle neb… . The Lord of the rings is definitely nice… I always take a glance at it each night I get the scope out. Have you gone duck hunting yet? (M11) It is a quite spectacular looking cluster especially at higher magnifications. Not sure why it is call the “wild duck”, though. I just don’t see it. M11 is another object that I take a gander at each night I get the scope out.

    Clear skies.

  3. Pingback: 2010: WordPress Year in Review « Late Night Astronomy

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