Monthly Notes

September 1, 2023

September is the end of summer but it still gives us the thickest part of the Milky Way Band and maybe with less mosquitoes. Unfortunately, seeing the Milky Way Band requires a fairly dark sky, away from most city lights. If you have never seen the Milky Way Band, you may first think that you are (possibly) seeing some clouds. Even some professional astronomers, who do research and often don’t look at the night sky with their eyes, have mistook the Milky Way Band for “clouds moving in.” At 1.5 hours after sunset, the thickness and brightest part of the Milk Way Band is immediately above the southern horizon. At this time, the Milky Way Band stretches in a high eastern arc from due south to just east of due north. Around midnight, the Summer Triangle, which is more noticeable than the Winter Triangle, is directly overhead and dipping south. It is a nice isosceles triangle with its “point” higher than halfway up due south (This “point” is the star Altair in the constellation Aquila).

Ken’s Astrophoto of the Month • September 2023


The Owl Cluster, with the catalogue designation of NGC 457 can be found in the constellation Cassiopeia and can be viewed in a small telescope. With just a little imagination, you can see the shape of an owl with this sprinkle of stars. Of course, those two eyes stand out. Astronomy is more than just celestial objects—it is also the story of life. I first became aware of the owl nature of this cluster of stars from a friend, Larry Moore, who passed several years ago. He loved this cluster and always announced when he had it in his eyepiece. Larry also liked red stars and there is a reddish star amongst this group. I miss Larry—he always livened a night of observing.

All stars are born in clusters out of giant nebula clouds, like the Orion nebula. The nebula clouds eventually dissipate and the stars in some clusters eventually wander off in different directions. Our Sun was born in such a nebula but its cluster broke apart. The Pleiades is the best known cluster of stars.

The NGC catalogue was compiled in the late 1800s and lists over 13,000 objects. Basically, it lists all objects (clusters of stars, various types of nebulae, supernovae remnants and galaxies) visually visible with a telescope around 20 inches in diameter at a dark location.

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. Now, acquiring images is relatively easy and I got that down (mostly) but learning to make the images pretty/colorful 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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