Deep sky challenge
A Ghost, Taffy and a Sombrero make for some interestingly named targets this month
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)