Total Solar eclipse
Astronomy Now
by Astronomy Now
1w ago
Forecasters predict that a solar eclipse passing over North America on Monday will offer a partial viewing from select areas of the UK. In vast regions of the US, the Sun will be completely obscured by the Moon, creating a momentary night-like atmosphere during the day. Total darkness will envelop certain areas for up to 4 minutes and 28 seconds, while those outside the path of totality will witness a gradual darkening of the skies as the Sun is partially covered. In the UK, the partial solar eclipse will traverse the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and the western part ..read more
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Line up Markarian’s Chain
Astronomy Now
by Mark Armstrong
1w ago
Markarian’s Chain is a string of eight galaxies straddling the boundary between Virgo and Coma Berenices. Messier 84 and 86 dominate together with ‘The Eyes’, interacting NGC 4435 and 4438. Image: Terry Hancock. The Virgo Cluster of galaxies reigns supreme for galaxy enthusiasts on spring nights. Its teeming galaxy fields centred either side of the boundary between Virgo and Coma Berenices are crammed with any number of outstanding individual galaxy gems, but if you’re wanting more bang for your buck, then track down Markarian’s chain, a string of galaxies that includes Messier 84 and 86 and t ..read more
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Chasing lunar shadows
Astronomy Now
by Mark Armstrong
2w ago
An eight-day-old gibbous Moon imaged on 16 August 2021. Image: Fernando Oliveira de Menezes. In its 29½-day voyage In around Earth, the Moon makes its first observable appearance as a scimitar of light to the west of the Sun perhaps a day or so past new. Still in the Sun’s proximity, the thickening crescent remains accessible not long after sunset. However, as the Moon steadily puts more sky between itself and the Sun, it sets ever later into the twilight. Increasingly taking charge of theevening sky, it becomes more obvious against a darkening backdrop as its phase advances towards first quar ..read more
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Focus on Messier 106  
Astronomy Now
by Steve Kelly
3w ago
  Messier 106 is a superb spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici. Image: David Wills. Sniff out the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici), the home of the magnificent Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) in the far northern sky, and you’ll find more galaxies than you can shake a stick at. Prominent Messier 106 (NGC 4258) is a superb spiral galaxy that holds its own in the company of the likes of the Sunflower Galaxy (M63) and M94. It’s bright enough to be found through a pair of binoculars and it looks like a galaxy through even a small telescope.    M106 lies in the north-western corner of Canes Venatici ..read more
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M95 & M96: A close galaxy pairing in Leo 
Astronomy Now
by Mark Armstrong
1M ago
Messier 95 is a very photogenic barred-spiral galaxy. Image: Patrick Gilliland. Early spring heralds the rise of the galaxies, when over the next three months or so the prime-time night sky is overflowing with a veritable treasure trove of bright and beautiful targets. Leo, the Lion, lies at the vanguard of this spring onslaught, offering as it does five Messier-designated galaxies and a handful of others that would wear the mantle comfortably. Messier 95 and 96 are a very special pairing of photogenic spiral galaxies lying under a degree apart at the centre of Leo, about nine degrees east of ..read more
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Celestron RASA 8 astrograph: fast imaging with the RASA 8
Astronomy Now
by Astronomy Now
2M ago
The Celestron RASA 8 is a dedicated astrograph. Celestron’s RASA 8 is a pure astrograph, a photographic telescope that can only focus light onto a camera chip – there is no eyepiece. I’ve spent the past year imaging with the RASA 8 that belongs to Dr Paul Kummer, a retired computer physicist from the University of Manchester, who co-owns a set-up with me at our remote imaging observatory at Les Granges Astronomy Holidays in southern France. Throughout that time, I’ve come to know the RASA 8 very well. At first glance, the RASA 8 resembles a Schmidt– Cassegrain telescope, but the primary mirror ..read more
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Moon close to the Pleiades
Astronomy Now
by Mark Armstrong
2M ago
The Moon passes just under a degree south of the Pleiades open cluster (M45) in Taurus on the evening of 16 February. AN graphic by Greg Smye-Rumsby. There’s a fine astro-photo opportunity on the night of 16/17 February when a first-quarter Moon passes under a degree south of Messier 45, the marvellous Pleiades open cluster in Taurus. As twilight fades, from about 6pm GMT, Taurus’ most westerly extremities, which includes the Pleiades, are very well-placed due south some 60° high. At this time the first-quarter Moon lies around 1.7° to the south-west of Alcyone (eta Tau, magnitude +2.8). Betwe ..read more
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A rare triple active galactic nucleus
Astronomy Now
by Astronomy Now
2M ago
Image: ESA/Hubble and NASA/J. Dalcanton/Dark Energy Survey/DOE/FNAL/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA. This cosmic collision is a coming together of two large spiral galaxies, but if you look carefully you might see two smaller galaxies that are also involved. The large galaxy in the top half of the picture is NGC 7734, while the other, distorted, galaxy is NGC 7733. Both have had their spiral arms unwrapped, with NGC 7733 in particular forming a warped ring galaxy with a lens or bar in the middle. On NGC 7733’s blue ring of stars is a noticeable bright knot. This is a third galaxy, NGC 7733N, which lies betwe ..read more
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Valleys on the Moon
Astronomy Now
by Mark Armstrong
2M ago
  Rimae Ariadaeus (right) and Hyginus are two great example of lunar rilles. Image: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LROC) QuickMap/NASA. Among the Moon’s most alluring features are its numerous valleys rilles and faults, many of which can be observed through small- to moderate-aperture telescopes. Highlights include the well-known and spectacular Vallis Alpes (the Alpine Valley), a lunar rift valley that cuts a straight path through the magnificent Montes Alpes (lunar Alps) and Vallis Schröteri (Schröter’s Valley), which meanders across the Aristarchus Plateau. The Alpine Valley (Vallis Alp ..read more
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Get a buzz from the Beehive
Astronomy Now
by Mark Armstrong
2M ago
The magnificent Beehive cluster (Messier 44) in Cancer. Messier 44 in Cancer, very well known under its popular alias the Beehive Cluster and less commonly Praesepe (Latin for crib or manger), has few rivals as an open star cluster in the entire sky. Shining with an integrated magnitude of +3.1, from the combined light from its hundreds of stars that are confirmed Beehive members, makes the Beehive brighter than any of the stars within Cancer’s boundaries.  M44 been known since antiquity; Hipparchus included it in his catalogue and called it ‘Little Cloud’ or ‘Cloudy Star’. Galileo was th ..read more
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