Monday, April 3, 2017

Stars that are not Stars

Cetus A Galaxy

When stargazing with binoculars I have been warned that many DSOs such as galaxies and globular clusters may appear stellar in appearance. For some people this may be a big disappointment, but for binoculars stargazers it is an incredible achievement because the fact that one is looking at objects located millions of light years from us with a simple pair of binoculars.

Here is M77, also known as Cetus A Galaxy, due to its location in the constellation Cetus, the Sea Monster. According the mythology, Cetus was sent by deity Poseidon  to punish queen Cassiopeia for her never-ending boasting, but later on defeated by Perseus, who used Medusa’s Head to turn Cetus into a stone.

Now, lets talk about the galaxy itself. It does look like a stellar object, but it may still reveal some nebulosity halo around it with averted vision.  I have seen it in my telescope with 100x and the view is similar, but enhanced by the magnification: a roundish and bright core surrounded by some nebular halo.

The best thing about it is, as I said before, that one is looking at a spiral galaxy located about 60 million light years away. With moderately dark skies, it can be easily found by aiming at the 4th mag star Delta Ceti  and then less than 1 degree east of it.               

Happy bino-hunting!!!


Edited by Jennifer Steinberg (editor in chief).

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