this month’s naked eye tar­gets

There’s a wealth of win­ter won­ders to en­joy gaz­ing at this De­cem­ber

All About Space - - Contents -

The Pleiades and Hyades glis­ten in Tau­rus

Betel­geuse (Al­pha Ori­o­nis) Betel­geuse is a red su­per­giant star 650-times wider than our own Sun. Shin­ing at mag­ni­tude 0.56 it is the 9th-bright­est star in the sky and lies 500 light years away. As­tronomers have pre­dicted that it will ex­plode as a su­per­nova one day, and will then shine brighter than the Moon. Orion Ne­bula (M42) Prob­a­bly the most fa­mous ne­bula in the whole sky, Messier 42 is an enor­mous cloud of dust and glow­ing gas 1,400 light years from Earth. This stel­lar nurs­ery can be seen with the naked eye alone, but is a beau­ti­ful sight in binoc­u­lars and small tele­scopes. Pleiades (Messier 45)One of the most fa­mous and loved star clus­ters in the sky, the Pleiades is also known as the ‘Seven Sis­ters‘ be­cause its seven bright­est stars can be seen with the naked eye and form a ‘mini Dip­per’ shape. Binoc­u­lars re­veal it con­tains hun­dreds of glit­ter­ing blue-white stars. Hyades (Melotte 25)This dis­tinc­tive v-shaped star clus­ter – rep­re­sent­ing the horns of Tau­rus, the Bull – is ob­vi­ous to the naked eye. It has five naked-eye stars but con­tains sev­eral hun­dred in to­tal. The bright-red star Alde­baran is not a mem­ber of the clus­ter, it just lies in its di­rec­tion as seen from Earth. Rigel (Beta Ori­o­nis)A blue-white su­per­giant star 8,600 light years from Earth, mag­ni­tude 0.28 Rigel is the 7th-bright­est star in the sky and is di­ag­o­nally op­po­site ruddy Betel­geuse. It is an amaz­ing 40,000-times more lu­mi­nous than our own Sun. Through binoc­u­lars it looks like a sparkling di­a­mond.OrionTau­rusAuriga

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