Home > Constellations, Ephemeris Program, Nebula > 01/30/2017 – Ephemeris – Can you really see a unicorn?

01/30/2017 – Ephemeris – Can you really see a unicorn?

January 30, 2017

Ephemeris for Monday, January 30th.  The Sun will rise at 8:03.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 45 minutes, setting at 5:49.  The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 8:58 this evening.

Among all the constellations in the sky of animals real and mythical, there is also a unicorn.  It’s called Monoceros, and inhabits the southern sky at 9 p.m. bounded by Orion on the right, Canis Major, the great dog below and Canis Minor, the little dog to the left.  Unfortunately for observers without optical aid Monoceros, though large, is devoid of any but the faintest stars.  Maybe that’s why no one sees unicorns anymore.  It has many faint stars because the Milky Way runs through it.  To the telescope it is a feast of faint nebulae or clouds of gas and dust, the birth place of stars, including the red rose of the Rosette Nebula, and the strange and tiny Hubble’s Variable Nebula.  It contains no bright stars, but a wealth of wonders below naked eye visibility.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.



Monoceros finder chart animation. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Rosette Nebula

Rosette Nebula in the infrared from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech.

I’ve never seen it visually through a telescope.  However the inner star cluster, NGC 2244 is visible.  The nebula is NGC 2239.

Hubble's Variable Nebula

Hubble’s Variable Nebula NGC 2261 photographed appropriately enough by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI).

Cone Nebula

Another nebula: The Cone Nebula, NGC 2264, as seen with the Hubble Space Telescope. Kind of looks like eggs in an eagle’s nest Credit ESA/Hubble.

The mentioned NGC objects can be found with a good star atlas or the free program Cartes du Ciel via the link on the right.


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