Archive for October 5, 2021

10/05/2021 – Ephemeris – Can you spot the North American Nebula?

October 5, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 5th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 29 minutes, setting at 7:15, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:47. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:46 tomorrow morning.

Most of what we see in the Milky Way are just masses of stars, but there are bright clouds of gas, or to name them properly: emission nebulae. These bright clouds are areas of star formation. It is the ultraviolet light from young massive stars that light up the clouds they were formed from. A bright one, easily visible in binoculars, is just about overhead at 9 p.m. Called the North American Nebula, a glow, that in photographs is shaped much like our continent, is just east of the star Deneb which is practically overhead in the evening. Deneb is the northernmost star of the Summer Triangle, and brightest star in Cygnus the swan or Northern Cross. There are many other nebulae in the Milky Way, visible in binoculars and small telescopes. Many enjoyable hours can be spent sweeping the Milky Way for nebulae and star clusters.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4 hours). They may be different for your location.


North American Nebula finder animation

North American Nebula finder animation. I’ve dimmed down the stars a bit and increased the brightness of the Milky Way to aid in spotting the nebula. It requires dark skies to see it. I believe I can make it out with the naked eye too. Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Deneb & North American Nebula

One of my old photographs of Deneb and the North American Nebula, digitized from a slide.

Better view of the North American Nebula taken by Scott Anttila.

Better view of the North American Nebula taken by Scott Anttila.