“Ghost of the Moon” Nebula in Aquila

NGC6781_128x_AGC_3_90s_ATW_APC_1_Gm_1_fullMFR5_AUHCHere’s a snapshot of an overlooked beauty in the constellation Aquila.  This lovely 11th-magnitude planetary nebula, first seen by William Herschel, lies in a fine field of the Milky Way and can be glimpsed in a moderate-sized telescope.  This ring-like nebula consists of glowing gas cast off by a dying star some 3,100 light years away.

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The Lazy Person’s Guide to Dark Matter, Part 1

Let’s continue our occasional series on the basics of cosmology with a look at dark matter, an elusive substance which enabled the formation of the first galaxies, helps govern the large-scale structure of the universe, and which very likely is passing through your body right now completely unnoticed.  In this article, we look at what dark matter is not. In the next, we examine a few ideas about what dark matter might be.

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The Emerging Art of Video Astronomy, Part 3

In the first article in this short series on video astronomy, you learned about the capabilities of the latest generation of astronomy video cameras.  In the second installment, you saw the basics of how to connect one of these little cameras and how to match it to a telescope and mount.  In this third installment, you look at the key settings for an astronomy video camera, and you get a few tips to help you take your first image.

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The Sky This Month – July 2014

ceres

July is an excellent month for stargazing. The rich star fields of Scorpius and Sagittarius finally come into view over the southern horizon for northern stargazers, and nearly overhead for southern-hemisphere observers. This year Saturn remains beautiful in a telescope in the constellation Libra. Venus Mercury and the Moon rise together later in the month in the pre-dawn hours.  And you also get a chance to see the asteroids Ceres and Vesta make their closest apparent approach since, well, perhaps ever.  Here’s what to see in the night sky this month…

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A Look at the “Paper Kite” Galaxy

The large constellations Leo and Virgo each hold a rich trove of galaxies, most of which lie within the massive Virgo cluster, the largest major galaxy cluster to the Milky Way.  The galaxy NGC 4762 is by no means the easiest object to see in the Virgo Cluster, but it’s one of the most rewarding because of its high surface brightness and wafer-thin appearance in a small telescope…

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