Episode 83 – Deep Sky Observing in Orion, Taurus, and Perseus

So Shane you set out some parameters for a few constellations for us to look at during the new Moon period for January. So the first was, what’s well placed for evening hours 7-10pm.

Orion the Hunter

Taurus the Bull

Perseus the Hero

We’ll start in Orion because it’s.the dominant winter constellation.

So how do we find Orion.

Orion is rising in early evening, I always think of Orion as sort of throwing one leg over the horizon to heft himself into view.

What else is there to see in Orion?

  • Betelgeus the brightest star – unexpectedly dimmer down at this time last year, turns out it was a dust cloud and it’s since pretty much returned to it’s prior luminosity. But that really changed the appearance of the constellation.
  • Orion’s Belt Collinder 70 – the belt and surrounding stars make up a loose open cluster, one of my favourite, you can see a giant “S” snaking it’s way between the stars there.
  • At far left, Eastern most star of the belt is Zeta Orionis, a famous star marking a couple of the more famous nebula. NGC 2024 is just east, I’ve seen it from dark sites in 7X50 binocs but just below, south of zeta is B33…. the Elusive Horsehead. The 33rd entry in Barnards catalogue and, in my opinion, unfortunately the most famed. B33 is a dark ne. Silhouetted against the bright H-Beta neb. IC 434…have you ever seen this Shane? Special filter and sky conditions required. This filter can more easily be used to see Barnards loop, a large H-Beta emitting Neb. ½ encircling the great hunter
    • Just below Zeta is Sigma which is quintuple system, although only 4 are possible with amateur telescopes. One of the prettiest multiple star systems. 3.79 to 8.43 magnitude 0.3” separation (Zeta is also a double star)
  • Below the belt we find M42, which is among the most famous nebs. Star forming region, middle of the sword, bracketing by NGC 1981 to the N and NGC 1980 on the south and abou a half dozen or more NGC clusters and nebula.
  • Moving up to Orion’s Head we find Collinder 69 another large binocular OC marked by, Meissa and Phi 1 & 2. IF you happen to have the H-Beta filter take a sweep around in your widest field and you mich pick up a faint Sharpless Nebula called the Angelfish nebula.
    • Lambda Orionis double star marks the head of Orion. Mag 3.39 and 5.45 separation is 4.5”

Continuing North past Orion’s Shield we get to Taurus the Bull

  • The Bulls head looks like a big wedge with the open end facing east and the bright orange red star Aldebaran marking the “eye of The Bull”.
    • East of Alderbaran is Theta Tauri – great bino double. 3.41 and 3.94 magnitude 347.9” separation. Yellow and a white. Possible to separate naked eye
  • Did you know many people believe the winter sky is clearer because they see so many more bright stars?
  • The Bull is an ancient constellation, perhaps even depicted on cave paintings going back more than 12,000 years, but no-one know’s for sure.
  • The main part of the wedge is actually large binocular open cluster we call the Hyades, but 4-degrees east of aldebaran, or place it in the right of your wide field binoculars and you’’ll soo OC 1647, another 7-8 degrees west lands you on 1746.
  • Located in the less exciting area of Taurus is Struve 430, a pair of orange stars. 6.77 and 9.56 magnitude 26.2” separation. 
  • Heading further North towards Persus we stop by what is arguable the most famed cluster, the PLeiades, M45
  • Likely added to Mess[ers catalogue for odd sense of symmetry
  • 5-6 stars are easy but unde really dark skies you should be able to see at least a few more with the entire region glowing a brilliant blue.
  • Maybe some of that view is from the unassociated neb,

If you live around 50-degrees north latitude and go out between about 9-10pm and look straight up you’ll see Perseus, the Hero. 

  • Shane recently spke about observing the Molotte 20 large open cluster, binocular, marked at centre by mirfac
  • If you live farther south you’ll actually have to cast your gaze past the overhead mark into the northern sky and Perseus will be more difficult to see from the Southern Hemisphere.
  • OC”s M34, Trumpler 2, The Double Cluster there’s also the California Nebula, which is arguably among the large easier to see H-Beta objects. I’ve seen it in my 7X50’s.
  • Miriam, the prominent southern star in Perseus is a beautiful double. 3.75 and 8.5 magnitude separation 30.4. Gold and blue stars…similar to Alberio

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