Popular Astronomy

June 2017

As ever, at this time of year, observations of Deep Sky objects are relatively few.  Two section members sent in eight images is total.

David Davies of Cambridge imaged a pair of globular clusters, M53 and NGC5053;  these are to be found around one degree apart in the constellation of Coma Berenices (right).

They look quite different:  M53 to the top right of the image is a V (5) in the Shapley - Sawyer concentration class where I (1) is the most concentrated and XII (12) the least concentrated.  NGC5053 is clearly less tightly packed and is a class XI globular.  At about 58,000 light years from the Earth, M53 is one of the more distant Messier globulars*, and it lies a similar distance, 60,000 light years, almost due North of the milky way galactic centre.  David used a 107mm APM triplet APO refractor and a QSI583 mono camera plus red green and blue filters.

* only two are further away  from us: M54 at 86,400 light years and M75 at 68,100 light years;  both are in Sagittarius.

Paul Crossland, observing from Liverpool using a Skywatcher ED80 refractor and Canon 500D DSLR, sent in the following images.  From below left, clockwise are M38 and M36, open clusters in the constellation of Auriga;  M51, the Whirlpool galaxy in Canes Venatici and M44, also known as Praesepe or the Beehive open cluster, in Cancer.  



Paul sent in three more images:  below are two of the four planetary nebulae featured in the Messier catalogue*. Below left is M57, the ring nebula in the constellation of Lyra;  to the right is M97, the owl nebula in Ursa Major.

* The other two are M27, the dumbbell nebula in Vulpecula and M76, the little dumbbell in Perseus.


Paul's final image, right, is of galaxies M81 and M82;  which are located in the constellation of Ursa Major. On the right in this image is M81, also known as Bode's galaxy, about 12 million light years from the Earth and containing an active nucleus powered by a supermassive black hole, thought to be more than 70 million times  as massive as our sun.  M82 has a region of rapid star formation in its core, thought to have been triggered by gravitational interraction with M81.  At a similar distance from the Earth, it is the nearest starburst galaxy we can study.

Dave Finnigan

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