Monday, August 8, 2016

NGC 2516: Like diamonds in the sky


A fine piece of jewelery in the southern skies


Let’s turn skyward again, to the fabulous constellation of Carina in the southern skies. Probably many of you haven’t had the opportunity to see that far south, but technically it is possible to see it from latitudes below 25°N. I had turned my binoculars to this constellation several times, but finally after many views, I had the courage to make a raw sketch of this vast and bright collection of stars called The Diamond cluster.

It is visible with the naked eye in moderately dark skies and has an angular size of 30 Arc minutes approximately (the same size the full moon). It is not as large as some better known clusters like The Pleiades or The Beehive and therefore can been enjoyed with low magnification in a telescope or with a pair of binoculars.

Catching it is pretty easy since it’s located south of the false cross. Just go to the star εCar and put the star in the upper left side of the field of view (FOV) and The Diamond Cluster will appear on the opposite side, if the FOV is wider than 3° (In most astronomy binoculars the FOV is more than 4°).

Unfortunately, I have not seen The Diamond Cluster from my current location Lijiang which is further north at 26° North Lat. I think there is still a small chance to see it once again, this open cluster, but I would need to have good atmospheric conditions since it would not raise high in the sky. 

I used Stellarium to recreate the field of view of the 15x70 Binoculars I used to see it when I performed the sketch. It also gives an idea of how it will look in the 4.4° FOV. I personally like the way those open clusters stand out in the FOV like if it was a tiny town in middle of a vast forest as seen from an airplane. That’s why I strongly advise taking the opportunity to enjoy The Diamond Cluster in binoculars whether you are stargazing from a city or from a dark location.

Enjoy this view that would take anyone’s breath away who decided to watch it.


LG.

Edited by Jennifer Steinberg (editor in chief)

1 comment:

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