deep sky challenge
The mighty Hunter has a horde of little-known treasures for you to track down and enjoy
The well-known constellation of the Hunter hides some fantastic sights among its stars
As 2018 draws to a close nights are often sparkling clear and still, and everyone enjoys setting up their telescope on the frosty grass and gazing in awe and wonder at the green and grey billows and swirls of the Orion Nebula. But Orion has much more to offer than just that 1,400-lightyears-distant stellar nursery. In and around it there are more subtle, more challenging wonders to hunt down.
This month we will help you point your telescope towards objects famous and obscure. Most observers have heard of the Horsehead Nebula, but few have seen it – we’ll help you. We also have a beautiful double star, and a nebula that is as puzzling as it is pretty.
When you head out to observe the sky this month you’ll find that the price of a cold, clear night is a dramatic reduction in your comfort level. You’ll need to dress warmly and make sure you take regular breaks from your eyepiece to move around and get warm again. If it has snowed during the day you might find that light pollution is worse than normal as the light coming off streetlights and security lights bounces up off the snow and into the sky. Using a nebula filter or getting as far from your town or city as possible will help here.
Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33)