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Posts Tagged ‘Ring Nebula’

08/25/2014 – Ephemeris – Cool treasures in the constellation of Lyra

August 25, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, August 25th.  The sun rises at 6:56.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 8:31.  The moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

The bright star Vega will be nearly overhead tonight at 10 p.m.   It will be about 6 degrees south of the zenith.  That’s quite a stretch of the neck to spot, with its accompanying stars in a small parallelogram that make up the constellation of Lyra the harp.  Lyra has some interesting features for a serious observer with and without a telescope.  The bottom right star of the parallelogram, if south is toward the bottom, is a star called Beta Lyrae that changes brightness by a factor of 3 in a period of 13 days.  Another star near Vega looks like two close stars in binoculars, in telescopes each is again a double stars.  That’s Epsilon Lyrae.  The jewel of this constellation needs a telescope to find between the two bottom stars of the parallelogram, the famous Ring Nebula.

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

Addendum

A bi more stars than what will be seen in binoculars of the constellation Lyra.  Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

A bi more stars than what will be seen in binoculars of the constellation Lyra. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

In the chart above:

The star designated α is Vega
The star designated β is Beta Lyrae
The stars designated ε1 and ε1 is Epsilon Lyrae
The object designated M57 is the Ring Nebula

Ring Nebula 1

The Ring Nebula. Visually one cannot detect the color. It takes a large telescope to see the central star. Credit: Stellarium.

The Ring Nebula, AKA M57 by amateur astronomers, is a planetary nebula.  The name planetary is a misnomer.  Many of these objects look like the dim planets Uranus and Neptune.  They are really stars like the sun, in their death throes puffing out their outer layers of gas at the end of their red giant stage.  See below the latest image of the Ring Nebula I recently found on the Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy Blog.  It includes an explanation of what’s in the image.

Deep Ring Nebula

Photo by NASA, ESA, and C. R. O’Dell (Vanderbilt University) and Robert Gendler

Click on the image to get lost in the Ring Nebula!

 

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07/08/2012 – Ephemeris – How to find the Ring Nebula (M57)

July 8, 2013 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, July 8th.  Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 22 minutes, setting at 9:28.  The moon is new today, and won’t be visible.  |  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 6:06.

The constellation of Lyra is high in the east when it gets dark tonight.  Its bright star Vega and the thin parallelogram of stars depict the harp it represents.  Between the two stars at the bottom of the parallelogram opposite Vega hides a celestial wonder that can be seen in a small telescope, though the larger the telescope the better.  It is the Ring Nebula, a smoke ring blown by a dying star.  The telescope’s finder cannot show the ring.  Center the finder between those two stars.  The nebula will appear as a small dim gray spot in the telescope.  Closer inspection may reveal that the center of the nebula is darker than the edges.  It is about 2,300 light years away, but that’s a very approximate distance, which could be a thousand light years off.

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

Addendum

Ring Nebula finder

The constellation Lyra with the location of the Ring Nebula shown. Created using Stellarium.

Closer ring

A closer look at the location of the Ring Nebula. Created using Stellarium.

 

 

06/28/11 – Ephemeris – The constellation Lyra the harp

June 28, 2011 Comments off

Tuesday, June 28th.  Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 9:31.   The moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 4:19 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the sun will rise at 6:00.

High in the east at 11 p.m. can be found a bright star just above a small, narrow, but very distinctive parallelogram of stars.  They are the stars of the constellation Lyra the harp.  The bright star is Vega, one of the twenty one brightest stars, called first magnitude stars.  Vega is actually the 5th brightest night time star. The harp, according to Greek mythology, was invented by the god Hermes.  The form of the harp in the sky, is as he had invented it: by stretching strings across a tortoise shell.  Hermes gave it to his half-brother Apollo, who in turn gave it to the great musician Orpheus.  In binoculars, near Vega, two stars appear together.  They barely appear to the unaided eye as one star, called Epsilon Lyrae.

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

Addendum

The constellations Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila

The constellations Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila. Created using Stellarium.

Lyra has some interesting treats for the telescope.

Lyra in Binoculars.

Lyra in Binoculars. Created using Stellarium.

Epsilon (ε) Lyrae, near Vega is easier to split than this image.  In good telescopes each of its stars is again split into two stars.  Amateur astronomers call it the Double-Double Star.  Not mentioned in the program is the Ring Nebula.  It isn’t visible in small finder telescopes, but if you have a telescope point the finder directly between the stars Sheliak and Sulafat, and the ghostly ring of the Ring Nebula will be near in the telescope.