Observing List for Friday Night

Observing List for  April 13, 2018

This Friday night, I’m scheduled to assist at the Public Observing session at Cline Observatory.  Here’s a summary of our plan:

  • Gamma Aries – Double Star

Constellation: Aries

Distance: 1144 ly Separation: 7.6 arcseconds Orbital Period: Over 5,000 years.

Info: A bright double star where both stars appear to be roughly the same color.


  • M36 – Open Cluster

Constellation: Auriga

Distance: 4,100 ly

Info: Fairly young, about 30 million years old. It has about a dozen bright members. It lies against the Milky Way making it difficult to discern the edges of the cluster.

  • M37 – Open Cluster

Constellation: Auriga

Distance: 4,400 ly

Info: Dozens of stars can be resolved clearly. One of the better open clusters to observe in Auriga. Dark lanes of the Milky Way can be seen under careful observations.

  • M38 – Open Cluster

Constellation: Auriga

Distance: 4,200 ly

Info: Many bright and faint members. Roughly 220 million years old.


  • M42 – Orion Nebula – Emission Nebula

    The Orion Nebula
    M42 . Taken with Prompt 5, Open filter, 20 second exp. on January 21, 2018 

    .  Image by Dennis Hands

Distance: 1,600 ly

Info: This type of nebula is where the creation of newborn stars occur. At the center of the nebula is a network of stars called the Trapezium. This region is the most active for star creation. This nebula is easily visible with the naked eye under dark conditions. This nebula is also part of a much larger cloud that spans several hundred lightyears.


  • M65, *M66*, and NGC 3628 – Leo Triplet – Spiral Galaxy Group – Featured

    M66 Taken with Prompt 5, Red filter, 40 second exp. on March 12, 2016 


Distance: 35 million ly

Info: Very close to the M96 group, thought to potentially be a part of a much larger galaxy group. There are approximately 3-5 galaxies that are a part of this “triplet”, depending on who you ask.

  • M81 – Bode’s Galaxy – Spiral Galaxy

Constellation: Ursa Major

Distance: 12 million ly

Info: The supermassive black hole at the center of this galaxy is roughly 70 million solar masses. A galaxy is referred to as spiral when there are bright arms surrounding the galaxy containing primarily blue stars which creates a spiral effect. These are the most active regions of star formation found in the galaxy as blue stars are almost always younger than red stars. Contrast with elliptical galaxies and explain how we are looking into the past.

  • M82 – Cigar Galaxy – Starburst Galaxy

Constellation: Ursa Major

Distance: 12 million ly

Info: Referred to as a starburst galaxy because it is undergoing an

Cline Observatory at GTCC, Jamestown, NC

exceptionally high rate of star formation. It is roughly 5 times more luminous than the Milky Way and has a center that is 100 times more luminous than our galaxies center. The starburst activity is thought to have been triggered by interaction with neighboring galaxy M81. It is the closest starburst galaxy to earth. Contains the brightest pulsar yet known (M82-X2). Explore what a pulsar is.


Other objects to consider:

Sirius, Arcturus, Mizar

NGC 5194, M51a – Whirlpool Galaxy – Spiral – Canes Venatici – 23 million ly

M101 – Pinwheel Galaxy – Spiral – Ursa Major – 21 million ly


Useful Relationships:

All astronomical images in this post taken with Prompt 5 in Chile

M= 2×1030kg, 2 nonillion kg, 330,000 Earth Masses, 1000 Jupiter Masses

au = 150 million km

ly = 9 trillion km, 6 trillion mi

pc = 3.26ly, 31 trillion km, 19 trillion mi

Objects and descriptions by Brian Morris, Host at Cline Observatory for 4/13/2018


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