3 Amigos – The Line Up

'3 amigos'

‘3 amigos’

   This evening, Saturday 1 June, look westward shortly after sunset to see three planets arranged in a diagonal line – from ‘top to bottom’ – Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter as this graphic shows.

Click on image to see it full size

Click on image to see it full size

   As the sky darkens and the planets are setting grab your binoculars or telescope and take a closer look at Mercury. This innermost planet is very close to the open star cluster M-35, also described as NGC-2168, located near the feet of the Gemini Twins. Just below M-35 is a fainter and more compact open star cluster NGC-2158. Click on this image to see it full size and as an animated zoom in showing more detail.

   Celestial objects with the letter ‘M’ preceding the number refers to objects observed and catalog by the French astronomer Charles Messier. Objects having the letters ‘NGC’ preceding the number refer to objects that are listed in the New General Catalog of celestial objects.

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Moon Near the Pleiades

27 November – 8 p.m. CST

   This evening the waxing gibbous Moon is within 4-5 degrees from the open star cluster the Pleiades as this graphic shows.
   The Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters, is open star cluster of several hundred (to possibly more than 1,000) stars with the brightest dozen or so visible to the naked eye at about a combined 1st magnitude brightness. This star cluster has been observed and named by many cultures around the world and was designated as M-45 by French Astronomer and comet hunter Charles Messier in his catalog of celestial objects he had ruled out as non-comets. Given its size at about 2-degrees the Pleiades are hard not to notice, even at times like this evening when the near full Moon is close. When you observe this star cluster you are looking at relatively young stars located around 300-400 light years from us. In time-exposure images there is often some nebulosity shown surrounding some of the stars. This is not remnants of the material the stars formed out of but rather is an interstellar cloud of dust and gases that the star cluster is passing through.

   Tomorrow the Moon meets Jupiter, is eclipsed, and is this year’s “Super-Mini” Moon.

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.