Sagittarius presents a visual feast

M17, the Omega Nebula, is a glowing cloud of hydrogen gas easily visible through a small telescope. Photo by Steve Mohr

M17, the Omega Nebula, is a glowing cloud of hydrogen gas easily visible through a small telescope. Photo by Steve Mohr

With the rich regions of the constellation Sagittarius visible high in the sky, you can take your pick from a superb selection of binocular and telescope targets this month. If you have a small telescope, the Lagoon Nebula M8 makes a wonderful spectacle. The Omega Nebula M17 — a glowing cloud of hydrogen gas — is also a good sight through a small telescope, while the open star cluster M23 and the Sagittarius Star Cloud M24 are ideal binocular objects. 

Two interesting open clusters — the Butterfly Cluster M6 and the Ptolemy Cluster M7 — are nestled in the constellation of Scorpius, and both are visible to the naked eye. The “M-number” classifications refer to a set of 110 fuzzy-looking astronomical objects known as Messier objects, which were catalogued by the French astronomer Charles Messier.

On August 10 the moon will be close to Jupiter, which looks like the brightest star in the sky, and then on August 12 the moon appears close to Saturn to the naked eye. On August 15 we will see a full moon.

The Mornington Peninsula Astronomical Society is excited to be again hosting VASTROC, the Victorian Astro Convention, on the weekend of August 10-11 during National Science Week. It will be held at the MPAS observatory at The Briars in Mount Martha and is open to all members of the public with a fascination about the universe, and this year the society's successful astrophotography workshop will be run in conjunction with this event. The convention will include workshops, talks, displays and interactive forums in a social atmosphere. Its broad theme will be the moon, in recognition of the recent 50-year anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. For more information, bookings and a map, visit the society’s website at mpas.asn.au

NERIDA LANGCAKE, Mornington Peninsula Astronomical Society

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