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The Sky This Month - June 2007

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Written by Gary Boyle, Ottawa on
Post Date: 
Sun, 2007/06/03

The Herdsman and the Snake

Sometimes known as the Hunter or the Ploughman, the constellations Bootes is most commonly referred as the Herdsman. Taking on the appearance of a giant celestial kite souring amongst the stars, this constellation holds one very bright star. To locate it, following the stars in the Big Dipper’s handle which arcs down to the star Arcturus. This K0 supergiant shines 113 times brighter than our Sun and emits 215 times more radiation. It measure 26 solar diameters across or one quarter the size of the orbit of Mercury. Located 37 light years from us the light of this magnitude -0.1 star was used to open the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago.

Looking ten degrees north of Arcturus along the left side of the kite is Epsilon Bootes. Shining at second magnitude and lying some 209 light years (ly) away, this nice but difficult double star displays a pallet of pale yellow and light blue dots. They are separated by a mere 2.9 arc seconds thus requiring medium size optics to split. Independently these suns glow at magnitudes 2.7 and 5.1 respectively.

The only globular cluster resides within the boundaries of Bootes of NGC 5466. It is however fairly dim for a globular. Situated a lengthy 47,000 ly from us, this magnitude 10.0 smudge will require at least a four inch telescope to begin resolving it. And even when you do, it will appear scarcely populated. A trick to locating NGC 5466 is to first find the 7th magnitude globular cluster M3 in Canes Venatici, a very bright and dense globular. Now move your scope a little more than five degrees to the east and you will pick it up with a bit of luck.

So who is up for a challenge? For those who are, we have Arp 297. This faint group of four galaxies consists of NGC 5752 at 14th magnitude, NGC 5753 at 15th, NGC 5755 at 15th and the largest and brightest member NGC 5754 at magnitude 13.8. Arp galaxies are basically, faint peculiar objects. Some of these shape and interactions are quite remarkable. The marker galaxy NGC 5754 is located a little east of the midpoint of the imaginary line between Nekkar and Seginus at the top of the kite.

As we slide over to Serpens, we find ourselves again in galaxy country. Starting from the head and NGC 5962, this 12th magnitude island of stars possesses many tight galactic arms and has a bright core. One of the brightest galaxies within the boundaries of the constellation is NGC 5921. A nice face on orientation, this galaxy sported a supernova in early 2001.

 

Without question before going any further, you just hunt down M5. Listed just under naked eye visibility, this magnitude 5.8 gem is a nice distraction from looking at or trying to find faint fuzzies mentioned in this article. Stuart Heggie, who lives near Flesherton, Ontario, took this remarkable portrait of M5. You can easily resolve stars right down to the core – nice work Stuart.

Another of the numerous targets to the lower left of the constellation is NGC 6070. This is another elongated galaxy residing an estimated 83 million ly. At magnitude 12.5, it will be a bit hard to discern its structure but it has a somewhat bright nucleus.

 

This month is pretty well the last time we can adore the mighty ringed planet Saturn. What do you get when you mix two planets, a bright star and the crescent Moon, you get a great lineup. This will take place in the western skies on June 20th. Get those cameras ready for a great visual grouping. From left to right we have the crescent Moon, Regulus (alpha Leo), Saturn and brilliant Venus.

And as we bit farewell to Saturn, the king of planets – Jupiter is low in the southern skies after twilight. Over the past few months Jupiter has undergone some serious changes to its belt and zone structure. The change to the equatorial zone is unmistakable.

 

It looks like the Space Shuttle Atlantis is set to launch on Friday June the 8th at 7:38 edt. Through the marvels of technology, you can follow the entire mission from pre-launch to the return landing on your computer. Just click on the link to NASA TV and select with Media player or Realplayer. Once they link up in space, the two will be extremely bright as they pass over your area. You can plan future passes by logging on the Heavens Above web site.

Our daytime star – the Sun is sporting new life as reports are coming in that activity in the form of Corona Mass Ejecta is on the up swing. With luck you should witness aurora activity sometime this month. Keep an eye on the alerts and your cameras ready.

Of course summertime is made for star parties and there are numerous outings planned across the country. This is the ideal for introducing the general public to the night sky and exactly what we do. Take the time to participate in these sessions whether it’s a large star party of a sidewalk session outside your local library or bookstore. There is no greater reward than to see the ear to ear smile of someone’s first view of Saturn or the Moon through a telescope.

Object

Type

Magnitude

RA

DEC

Arp 297

Brightest of group - round

15.0

14h 45m

38d 45m

IC 4543

Planetary nebula

15.0

15h 25m

13d 27m

M 13

Globular cluster

7.0

11h 19m

13d 02m

M 3

Globular cluster

7.0

13h 13m

18d 07m

M 5

Globular cluster

5.8

15h 19m

02d 03m

M 92

Globular cluster

7.5

13h 16m

42d 02m

NGC 5770

Round galaxy

13.2

14h 53m

03d 54m

NGC 5775

Very elongated galaxy

12.3

14h 54m

03d 38m

NGC 5792

Elongated galaxy

12.1

14h 58m

-01d 06m

NGC 5806

Elongated galaxy

12.5

15h 00m

01d 52m

NGC 5813

Round galaxy

11.5

15h 01m

01d 40m

NGC 5831

Round galaxy

12.5

15h 04m

01d 11m

NGC 5846

Round galaxy

13.8

15h 07m

01d 34m

NGC 5850

Elongated galaxy

11.6

15h 07m

01d 31m

NGC 5921

Round galaxy

11.5

15h 22m

05d 02m

NGC 5936

Round galaxy

13.1

15h 30m

12d 57m

NGC 5951

Very elongated galaxy

13.8

15h 34m

14d 58m

NGC 5953

Round galaxy

12.9

15h 34m

15d 10m

NGC 5956

Round galaxy

13.2

15h 35m

11d 43m

NGC 5957

Round galaxy

12.9

15h 36m

12d 01m

NGC 5962

Elongated galaxy

12.0

15h 36m

16d 35m

NGC 5964

Round galaxy

12.9

15h 40m

05d 57m

NGC 5970

Elongated galaxy

12.1

15h 38m

12d 09m

NGC 5980

Elongated galaxy

13.3

15h 41m

15d 45m

NGC 5984

Very elongated galaxy

13.3

15h 43m

14d 12m

NGC 5996

Elongated galaxy

13.2

15h 47m

17d 50m

NGC 6004

Round Galaxy

13.0

15h 50m

18d 54m

NGC 6012

Elongated galaxy

12.7

15h 54m

14d 33m

NGC 6210

Planetary nebula

9.0

16h 45m

23d 48m

 

And finally the summer solstice occurs on June 21st at 18:06 UT. This marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the south. From here on till the frosty nights of December, the nights gradually shorten.

Until next month,

Clear skies

Gary Boyle