So you have observed the Messier and Caldwell objects and want to know what other wonders are out there, the Herschel 400 would be a good start, but if you are after inspiration why not look at what others are observing by having a browse below.
The Gamma Cygni Nebula describes the patches of nebulosity around Gamma Cygni, Sadr and consists of emission nebulae, dark dust clouds and star clusters. The area spams 3 degrees of sky so is a good subject to image with a small wide field refractor or prime lens on a tracking mount.
This face on spiral galaxy lies at a distance of about 66 million light years and is about 75,000 light years across or about half the size of the Milky Way Galaxy. This object has a fairly low surface brightness, and so will be a tougher to observe than the mag 11.3 would suggest. You’ll need dark skies and a large aperture to really appreciate this.
Two globular clusters very close to each other seen through the dense star field in the direction towards the centre of our Galaxy, in the constellation Sagittarius. These systems are relatively young for globular clusters, being only about 10 million years old.
They can be spotted between gamma1 and W Sagitarii (see finder chart below). NGC6522 (right) sits right in the centre of Baade’s Window
Seyfert’s Sextet is a group of galaxies about 190 million light-years away in the constellation Serpens Caput. The group appears to contain six members, but one of the galaxies is a background object and another “galaxy” is actually a separated part of one of the other galaxies. The gravitational interaction among these galaxies should continue for hundreds of millions of years. Ultimately, the galaxies will merge to form a single giant elliptical galaxy.
The California Nebula (NGC 1499) is an emission nebula located in the constellation Perseus. It is so named because it appears to resemble the outline of the US State of California. It is almost 2.5° long on the sky and, because of its very low surface brightness, it is extremely difficult to observe visually. It can be observed with a H-Beta filter (isolates the H-Beta line at 486 nm) in a rich-field telescope under dark skies. It lies at a distance of about 1,000 light years from Earth.
The California Nebula was discovered by E. E. Barnard in 1884.
NGC 3628 is an unbarred spiral galaxy about 35 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. It was discovered by William Herschel in 1784. It has an approximately 300,000 light-years long tidal tail. NGC 3628 along with M65 and M66 form the famous Leo Triplet, a small group of galaxies. Its most conspicuous feature is the broad and obscuring band of dust located along the outer edge of its spiral arms, effectively transecting the galaxy to our view.
The Rosette is a popular object for imagers, the complex has the following NGC designations:
- NGC 2237 – Part of the nebulous region (Usually used to denote whole nebula)
- NGC 2238 – Part of the nebulous region
- NGC 2239 – Part of the nebulous region (Discovered by John Herschel)
- NGC 2244 – The open cluster within the nebula (Discovered by John Flamsteed in 1690)
- NGC 2246 – Part of the nebulous region
The cluster and nebula lie at a distance of some 5,200 light years from Earth (although estimates of the distance vary considerably) and measure roughly 130 light years in diameter. The radiation from the young stars excite the atoms in the nebula, causing them to emit radiation themselves producing the emission nebula we see. The mass of the nebula is estimated to be around 10,000 solar masses.
It is believed that stellar winds from a group of O and B stars are exerting pressure on interstellar clouds to cause compression, followed by star formation in the nebula. This star formation is currently still ongoing.
A survey of the nebula with the Chandra X-ray Observatory in 2001 has revealed the presence of very hot, young stars at the core of the Rosette Nebula. These stars have heated the surrounding gas to a temperature in the order of 6 million kelvins causing them to emit copious amounts of X-rays.
The Horsehead Nebula (also known as Barnard 33 in bright nebula IC 434) is a dark nebula in the constellation of Orion.
The nebula is located just below Alnitak, the star furthest left on Orion’s Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. It is approximately 1500 light years from Earth. It is one of the most identifiable nebulae because of the shape of its swirling cloud of dark dust and gases, which is similar to that of a horse’s head. The shape was first noticed in 1888 by Williamina Fleming on photographic plate B2312 taken at the Harvard College Observatory.
The red glow originates from hydrogen gas (hydrogen alpha) predominantly behind the nebula, ionized by the nearby bright star Sigma Orionis. The darkness of the Horsehead is caused mostly by thick dust, although the lower part of the Horsehead’s neck casts a shadow to the left. Streams of gas leaving the nebula are funnelled by a strong magnetic field. Bright spots in the Horsehead Nebula’s base are young stars just in the process of forming.
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