Deep sky chal­lenge

A Ghost, Taffy and a Som­brero make for some in­ter­est­ingly named tar­gets this month

All About Space - - Contents -

The An­dromeda Galaxy (M31) is one of the most fa­mous and most fre­quently ob­served and pho­tographed deep-sky ob­jects in the whole of the night sky. And rightly so: eas­ily vis­i­ble to the naked eye as a smudge of light larger than the Moon, even a small tele­scope trans­forms it into a beau­ti­ful misty oval, while larger in­stru­ments re­veal hints of its spi­ral struc­ture, its bright cen­tral core and a pair of fainter satel­lite gal­ax­ies nearby.

But a short star-hop away from this ce­les­tial celebrity lies a hand­ful of other ob­jects wor­thy of tele­scope own­ers’ at­ten­tion. Much smaller, much fainter and much harder to see, they are nonethe­less worth track­ing down be­cause they are so dif­fer­ent to big, brash M31.

A cou­ple of this month’s chal­lenges re­ally are only worth look­ing for with large ‘light bucket’ tele­scopes un­der a sky un­af­fected by light pol­lu­tion. Oth­ers will be glimpsed through smaller in­stru­ments. One is vis­i­ble to the naked eye – but the rea­son it is in­cluded on our list this month would not even be vis­i­ble through the largest tele­scope in the world. So why in­clude it? Be­cause, like many things in as­tron­omy, the joy comes from the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of what you’re look­ing at, or for, and not the ac­tual view it­self.

The Lit­tle Som­brero (NGC 7814)

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