What can we observe in the sky in May 2023? May is going to be an exciting month for amateur astronomers. This month, we will enjoy several interesting celestial phenomena, including the Markarian’s Chain, and, for the first time in Vaonis history, we will host a one-of-a-kind collaborative project.
The Markarian’s Chain is a fascinating celestial phenomenon. It is a chain of galaxies located in the constellation Virgo. It takes its name from the Armenian astrophysicist Benjamin Markarian, who discovered it in 1983. This chain of galaxies is composed of twelve galaxies that have an appearance strung like pearls on a necklace.
The best time to observe the Markarian’s Chain is when it is high in the sky, after midnight. If you are in town, don’t forget your light pollution filter for the best viewing experience.
Save The Date: let’s head to Markarian’s Chain on May 12th
On the evening of Friday, May 12th, thousands of Vespera and Stellina owners around the world are invited to point their instrument at the Markarian’s Chain to create all together the longest exposure photograph ever captured with the same gear.
M82, also known as the Cigar Galaxy, is an irregular galaxy located about 12 million light-years from Earth, in the constellation of the Big Dipper. It is particularly remarkable because of its intense star formation activity, which makes it a starburst galaxy. This activity is mainly due to a gravitational interaction with its neighbor, the galaxy M81, which disrupted the distribution of gas and dust within M82.
The nickname “Cigar Galaxy” comes from its elongated and narrow shape, easily observed through an amateur telescope. M82 is also an important source of infrared radiation, due to the heat given off by the star forming regions and the presence of interstellar dust. Recent observations have also revealed the presence of a supermassive black hole at its center, which contributes to the emission of X-rays detectable from Earth.
The study of M82 allows us to better understand the processes of star formation and the interactions between galaxies, making this galaxy an object of major interest for astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts around the world.
To observe the Cigar Galaxy, Vespera and Stellinawill be your best assets. As for the Markarian Chain, it is advisable to choose an observation site far from the city lights, in order to obtain a dark and clear sky or to have a CLS filter.
The Pinwheel galaxy
The Pinwheel Galaxy is one of the most fascinating galaxies in the cosmos. Located about 300 million light years from Earth, this galaxy is a classic example of what is called a face-on spiral galaxy. The particularity of this galaxy lies in its central bar, which crosses its oval-shaped nucleus and is bordered by extended spiral arms. It is a real spectacle for astronomers who study galaxies, because the images of the Pinwheel galaxy reveal an incredibly complex and detailed structure.
The discovery of the Pinwheel Galaxy dates back to 1773, when French astronomer Charles Messier first observed it. He catalogued it as M101 in his famous catalog of celestial objects. However, it was not until 1920 that the American astronomer Heber Curtis realized that the M101 galaxy was in fact the Pinwheel galaxy. Since then, astronomers have continued to study this galaxy, using increasingly powerful and sophisticated telescopes. Observations have revealed many fascinating details about this galaxy, such as the presence of many star-forming regions and vast clouds of gas and dust. The Pinwheel Galaxy continues to fascinate astronomers and the general public today, and it remains one of the most iconic examples of a barred spiral galaxy.
The Dumbbell Nebula is another celestial wonder to observe in May. This nebula is located in the constellation Lyra, and is also known as M27. Amateur astronomers will appreciate its barbell-like shape.
The Dumbbell Nebula is a planetary nebula, which was discovered by French astronomer Charles Messier in 1764. It is located about 1,360 light-years from Earth, and consists of gas and dust ejected by a star at the end of its life. The Dumbbell Nebula is a wonder to observe through a telescope, thanks to its bright colors and distinctive shape.
If you have a Vespera, we recommend the Dual Band filter, a narrow band interference filter that will increase the contrast between the stellar object and the sky background. Its use allows you to obtain an image of superior quality, with stars and finer details.
NGC 457, also known as the Owl Cluster, is an open cluster of stars located about 7,900 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia. This picturesque cluster, discovered by British astronomer William Herschel in 1787, is particularly popular with amateur astronomers because of its amazing shape and ease of observation.
The Owl Cluster gets its name from the arrangement of its stars, which resemble the bright eyes of an owl, with two brighter stars, Phi-1 and Phi-2 Cassiopeiae, serving as the “eyes” and a set of less bright stars forming the “body”. NGC 457 contains more than 150 stars, some of which have a characteristic bluish tint, resulting from their high temperature.
When you observe NGC 457, let yourself be enchanted by this celestial dance of stars which, for thousands of years, has formed one of the most intriguing and enchanting faces of our night sky.
IC4592 Blue Horse Nebula
Located in the southern constellation Scorpius, this stunning nebula is a testament to the sheer beauty and majesty of the universe we inhabit. With its vivid hues of blue and pink, this celestial masterpiece is a feast for the eyes and a source of wonder and inspiration for stargazers and scientists alike. Whether you are an avid astronomy enthusiast or simply someone who appreciates the splendor of the cosmos, the IC4592 Blue Horse Nebula is a must-see for anyone looking to experience the awe-inspiring grandeur of the universe.
It was first discovered by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop in the early 19th century. Dunlop was a renowned astronomer who spent much of his career studying the southern skies, and his discovery of the Blue Horse Nebula is just one example of his significant contributions to the field of astronomy.
In conclusion, the month of May offers amateur astronomers the opportunity to discover several celestial wonders, including the Markarian’s Chain, and join us in an incredible challenge! Whether you are a novice or an experienced observer, these celestial objects offer a unique opportunity to explore and appreciate the beauty of the universe around us.