The theme for this year’s World Space Week (October 4-10) is Women in Space. To celebrate and honor the many women who have deepened our knowledge of space, Unistellar is paying tribute to some of the female astronomers who added galaxies, nebulae, comets and more to our catalogue of astronomical objects.
Foremost among these female skygazers is 18th century astronomer Caroline Herschel, who discovered eight comets, as well as star clusters, nebulae and other celestial objects. She was also the first woman to receive a wage for her scientific work, and created the basis for the New General Catalogue (NGC) of deep-sky objects still in use today.
Observe these four objects discovered by Caroline Herschel, and follow in the footsteps of this trailblazing astronomer! Also, continue reading to find a bonus citizen science challenge!
The Sculptor Galaxy, also called NGC 253 or the Silver Dollar Galaxy, was found by Herschel in 1783 while she was looking for comets. The starburst galaxy is currently in the throes of a period of frenetic star formation, and it can be found in the Sculptor constellation near the star Beta Ceti.
NGC 7380, or the Wizard Nebula, is an open star cluster surrounded by a cloud of glowing dust called an emission nebula. The nebula is a challenge to observe, but with the right conditions and telescope you’ll be able to see the luminous cloud, with two massive stars at its center.
Herschel discovered this open cluster in 1783, and it was one of her earlier discoveries. You can find the Sailboat Cluster (NGC 225) in the constellation Cassiopeia — it’s about 2,100 light-years from Earth.
NGC 752, or Caldwell 28, was also found by Herschel in 1783. The deep-sky object is a large open cluster in Andromeda, about 1,300 light-years away.
Bonus: Observe Asteroid 3779 Kieffer!
In 1985, American astronomer Carolyn Shoemaker discovered main-belt asteroid Kieffer. A pioneer of astronomical discoveries, Carolyn is known for discovering 32 comets and over 500 asteroids. She also co-discovered the famous comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 that collided with Jupiter.
If you’re observing in Europe, you can see Kieffer as it occults (passes in front of) a bright star during the evening of October 8. Your observations will help us learn more about asteroid Kieffer! Find out more details on exactly where and when to observe this main-belt asteroid.
For more on female astronomers, check out Unistellar’s resources for women in astronomy.
We encourage you to share your observations and join the conversation through our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages using the hashtag #UnistellarChallenge!
If you’d like to send us your observations by email, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clear skies! 🔭