Happy New Year, Everyone. I hope 2016 is a great year for you.
Tonight at the public observing session at Cline Observatory the Orion Nebula (M 42) will be the featured object. Orion is a favorite constellation for many stargazers, and the Orion Nebula is a wonderful reminder of the process of stellar evolution.
Cline Observatory is on the Jamestown campus of Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) and is open to the public every clear Friday night. Admission is free, and we invite all visitors to become of Friend of Cline Observatory by making a monetary contribution. Friends get extra news about events and are invited to special activities.
The weather forecast for tonight is not hopeful; it’s suppose to be cloudy all night. But Saturday’s skies could be clear, and the clearing could happen earlier than expected. (It could happen!) Check the tweets for updates.
Orion is a very easy constellation to find. It includes some of the brightest stars in our sky. These bright stars really seem to stand out, thanks to the existence of a huge gas and dust nebula that sits just a little further away, blocking most of the light from the many stars behind Orion. The contrast helps the bright stars of Orion stand-out even more!
And these stars are colorful! Most stars appear white to us, but with a timed exposure of the constellation we can see not only the movement of the stars, but the colors are enhanced.
I understand that this nebula behind Orion is much larger than the
constellation itself, and that we see only the very edge of the nebula on the sword hanging from the hunter’s belt.
What we see is inside the stellar nursery, where hundreds, if not thousands, of stars are being born. Our view is where the baby stars have kicked aside the blanketing gas and dust so we can see a bit inside.
Come join us at Cline Observatory, tonight of it clears off, but any clear Friday night will do. Dress for outdoor weather, and leave those white-light flashlights at home.