Constellations of the Month
by Rick Raasch
THE CYGNUS REGION
This month, we'll be surveying a very rich area of the sky composed of Cygnus, Lyra, Vulpecula, Sagitta, and Delphinus. Here, in a relatively compact region, are a wealth of objects to keep observers busy on an autumn night. Scanning this region with binoculars is a pure joy, with field after field of star clusters and groupings everywhere you look. The listing of objects presented here are just a few of the splendors waiting for you to observe.
M-39 Through binoculars, this open cluster is very impressive. It is large and bright and stands out well from the background. I see it as having an overall triangular shape. Through a telescope, it loses some of its impact, because of its size and the fact that it is not very concentrated to the center.
M-29 This small open cluster is seen through binoculars as a diamond shaped grouping of about 6-8 stars in a nice field. In a telescope, the count increases to about 15 sparsely concentrated stars.
NGC 7000 The North America Nebula. I usually see this best with the naked eye as a milky patch just to the east of the bright star Deneb. The "Gulf of Mexico" region stands out particularly well. Try holding an O-III or UHC filter in front of your eyes to increase the contrast. Then, as an added treat, use these filters while looking through binoculars.
NGC 6969/6992-5 The Veil Nebula. This is a large supernova remnant best seen at low power, divided into two major segments.
NGC 6960 is the more difficult to see, as the bright star 52 Cygni overwhelms it. NGC 6992-5 lies to the east, and shows a wealth of filamentary detail, especially when using a filter.
Alberio This is a classic double star. Easily split, it shows a beautiful contrast of yellow-orange and blue stars. Even if you're not a double star fan, try this one. You'll like it.
M-57 The Ring Nebula. This one of my favorite objects, and was the first object I looked at through my first telescope, bypassing even Saturn. The ring shape is evident even at low powers, and holds up well to magnification. This showpiece object is bright enough to be seen even in severely light polluted areas.
M-56 This is a relatively bright globular cluster, about 5' in diameter, concentrated in the center, and faintly resolved across its face. It is visible in binoculars as a small, unresolved fuzzy spot.
Delta Lyr This double star is wide and easy to split, and shows a pretty
orange and blue-white pair.
Epsilon Lyr The famous "double-bouble" is easily split into two components, but needs a steady night to further split these two into four. A very nice sight.
M-27 The Dumbell Nebula. This huge planetary nebula is easily seen in binoculars as a gray puff of light in a very pretty field. In a telescope, the hourglass shape is obvious, and extensions are seen which actually make it more football shaped. A wealth of detail awards careful scrutiny. Justifiably one of the most observed deep sky objects.
Cr 399 The "Coathanger". This star cluster is easily seen with the naked eye with its distinctive star pattern. A cruise though it with binoculars reveals many bright stars and star fields.
M-71 This globular cluster is about 6' in diameter, and show many stars resolved across its face. The shape is intriguing, as it is arrowhead or chevron shaped, pointing to the west. Binoculars show a faint unresolved patch of light in an interesting field.
NGC 6905 This planetary nebula is about 40" in diameter, and is gray-blue, reminiscent of the Owl Nebula (M-97).
NGC 7006 This small, unresolved globular cluster is unremarkable until you realize that it is some 185,000 light years distant, comparable to the distance of the Magellanic Clouds, and may actually not even belong to the Milky Way's system of globulars.
NGC 6934 This globular is closer to home, and shows a 4' diameter disk which hints at resolution and granulation with averted vision.
Gamma Del This very pretty double star is easy to split, and presents a gold primary and a pretty blue secondary.
Next Month: Sagittarius
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