The changing of seasons brings new opportunities for stargazing, no matter where you live. Our Unistellar Ambassadors shared with us their favorite celestial objects to observe this season. Their picks include majestic spiral galaxies, colorful nebulae, and glittering star clusters for you to enjoy in the night sky.
Read on for the best observing targets for Fall in the Northern Hemisphere, or Spring in the Southern Hemisphere!
The Triangulum Galaxy (M33), a spiral galaxy found in the constellation Triangulum, was the deep-sky object most often recommended by our Unistellar Ambassadors. It’s the third-largest nearby galaxy after Andromeda and the Milky Way, and is bright enough to see with the naked eye when conditions are good.
“Messier 33 is one of our near galaxy neighbours in the Local Group. It shows beautiful spiral structure and lots of star formation, and it’s just the right size for the eVscope’s field of view!” says Mike Merrifield of the U.K.
“M33 is resplendent as a face-on lovely spiral,” says Greg Redfern in the U.S. “The imaging challenge is getting the fainter outer spiral arms, but Unistellar is up to the task.”
Also known as the The Seven Sisters, the Pleiades is the most obvious star cluster in the night sky. This deep-sky object, found in the constellation Taurus, is important to cultures around the world, and the car company Subaru is even named after them.
“Matariki (known elsewhere as Pleiades) is very important to the Māori,” says John Pickering, in New Zealand. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the eVscope can reveal of the cluster and sharing it with other New Zealanders.”
These two star clusters are visible with the naked eye, but look even better viewed with your eVscope. You’ll be able to observe individual stars within the two open clusters.
“My cheat is a two for one: the Double Cluster in Perseus, NGC 869 and NGC 884,” says David Rowe in the United Kingdom. “A beauty of the northern sky, even if Messier missed it!”
Pegasus Globular Cluster
Residing 33,600 light-years from Earth, globular cluster Messier 15 is jam-packed with stars — so many, in fact, that astronomers suspect there may be a giant black hole at its core. Spot it in the constellation Pegasus, just off the horse’s head.
“The northern skies from June to August are positively filled with globular star clusters,” says Scott Kardel, a Unistellar Ambassador from the United States. “But as autumn gets underway, they become few and far between. That makes M15 my go-to globular for fall.”
This supernova remnant is visible in the constellation Taurus. Chinese astronomers actually recorded the supernova event in the year 1054! It earned its name from an 1842 sketch by astronomer William Parsons that resembled a crab.
“I’m amazed you can see both color and structure in the Crab Nebula,” says David Rowe. “It looks like a puff of smoke from an explosion, which, of course, is exactly what it is!”
This massive starburst galaxy is home to a flurry of new star formation, and it’s readily apparent to most observers. Discovered by astronomer Caroline Hershel in 1783, it’s one of Unistellar Ambassador Jacques Bérard’s favorite targets.
“The galaxy is huge and has a nice silver color with a lot of detail,” Bérard says. “As soon as it is high enough I will revisit this gem of the fall sky.”
Observers on Earth can see this unbarred spiral galaxy edge-on in the constellation of Andromeda. It’s a reminder, says Mike Merrifield in the U.K., of how slim galaxies like our Milky Way truly are.
“It underlines quite how thin and delicate the disks of such galaxies are, with the dust lane cutting across it forming an even thinner feature,” Merrifield says.
The Helix Nebula is often called the “Eye of Sauron” for the way its central stellar core and surrounding gaseous envelope resemble a malevolent eye. Close to Earth, the object appears relatively larger than other similar nebulae.
“It’s just the right size to fit nicely into the eVscope’s viewfinder,” says Tateki Goto, a Unistellar Ambassador from Japan.
The Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, comes with a bonus: the dwarf galaxy NGC 5195. Connected by a thin stream of dust and gas called a tidal bridge, the galactic companions are a unique example of cosmic interaction, says Bruno Guillet, from France.
“It’s one of my favorite targets: this interacting galaxy pair is beautiful and the dust-rich tidal bridge is always impressive,” Guillet says.
Large and bright, M81, or Bode’s Galaxy, is a popular target for professional and amateur astronomers alike. This grand design spiral galaxy makes for excellent viewing, especially in the fall as it rises higher above the horizon.
“It’s a beautifully symmetric spiral, with a bright core and arms that slowly appear as the image builds up,” says David Rowe. “A great one to demonstrate the eVscope.”