Monthly Notes

June 1, 2023

I have been "out" a lot lately imaging various objects in the night sky and you will see some of these photos as the months go by. However, June has a lot to offer in the sky but darker night skies are best to see some of its subtleties. For example, there is a cluster of stars know as the Beehive or Praesepe which is in front of Leo's backward question mark. It is easy to see with binoculars but you will need a relatively dark site to glimpse the fuzziness with your eyes. Likewise, there is a similar fuzzy spot behind Leo, however, it is not as impressive in binoculars because the stars are fainter and more spread out than the Beehive, but it is neat to see it as a fuzzy spot with the eyes. Also, rising in the east is Cygnus or Northern Cross that is smack dap in the middle of the MilkyWay. At a dark location you can see variations in the intensity of the Milky Way in and around the cross. And, all you need is a small telescope at around 50 to 100 magnification to see the bottom star, named Albireo, become a double—two stars—one blueish and the other goldish. Enjoy.

Ken’s Astrophoto of the Month • JUNE 2023


Look closely and compare these two images. Obviously, the arrow indicating a supernova helps. I took these images one month apart but when I captured the image on April 25, I had no idea that there would be a supernova in this galaxy a month later (an amateur in Japan discovered it). This galaxy is similar to our Milky Way Galaxy which is where our Sun and solar system reside. This galaxy is near the Big Dipper and is visible in a small telescope (as little as 3-inches in diameter) under fairly dark skies. It was first catalogued in the late 1700s by the famous French astronomer, Charle Messier and has a designation of M101 (the 101st object in his catalogue of 110 objects). Supernovae are the explosions of very large stars at the end of their lives. Our Sun will not create a supernova. And, supernovae, for a short time, like up to a few months, become the brightest objects in their galaxies. The last one in our galaxy, visible to the naked eye, was in the early 1600s.

Note: I just got started into astrophotography a few months ago and I am enjoying it immensely. However, I am not getting into it to make those pretty astrophotos. If I had made the above images pretty, it would have been more difficult to see the supernova because the galaxy would have been much brighter. Now, acquiring images is easy and I got that down but learning to make those pretty astrophotos is difficult and I am at the very beginning of that process.

The Pleiades or Seven Sisters

The Pleiades sorta looks like a little dipper. It is small in the sky and initially looks like a fuzzy spot to the eyes. Great in binoculars.

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