A Steamed Moon

Click on graphic to see full size.

Click on graphic to see full size.

   This evening, the sky is overcast and we are in the midst of being on the receiving end of around 1-2 inches of rain. My plans for seeing a young Moon have been washed away – at least until the sky clears. Fortunately it is forecast to be clear tomorrow, Wednesday 6 November. So if your weather allows it, at around sunset local time look for the thin waxing crescent Moon to be near the brightly shining planet Venus as the banner graphic at the top of the page shows. If dark enough skies were the viewing situation then the glow from the Milky Way could be seen as steam rising from the teapot-shaped asterism for Sagittarius.
   Within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars around the waxing crescent Moon or Venus you can view several celestial objects sometimes known as ‘deep sky’ objects. Two of these, M8 and M20, are among the best naked-eye visible objects, and are certainly beautiful objects as either a software generated graphic like I am using here, or the real pictures taken with digital cameras. M8, or the Lagoon Nebula is an emission nebula with an open star cluster embedded within the gas and dust of the nebula. M20, or the Trifid Nebula, is a complex area of an emission nebula of hot gas surrounded by dust grains as a reflection nebula. Dark lanes dividing the nebula into distinctive parts are easily seen with binoculars.
Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Looking slightly up and to the right from M8 and M20 is the thin waxing crescent Moon. Within 2 degrees from the Moon is the open star cluster M23. This is an group of between 100-150 stars some 2100 light years from the Earth.

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

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