Observatory Corner: Sept. 26
Calvin College’s observatory will be open from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. this week. There is a possibility of clouds on Tuesday night, but the weather is supposed to hold up for the rest of the week.
Over the summer, the observatory remodeled the viewing system inside the dome. Now, in addition to the regular eyepiece, there is a camera displayed on a monitor by which the observer may look at the sky.
This camera is now able to make fainter objects, such as nebulas and globular clusters, more clear. This has been an issue in the past, as viewers attempting to see objects such as the Ring Nebula are barely able to see what looks like a smudge on the eyepiece.
Now the nebula can be seen in greater detail, including the remnant star in the center of the ring from a supernova that created the nebula.
If you want to see Venus and Saturn through the telescope, come early (around
8 or 8:30 p.m.). Venus should be rising higher in the sky each night as it reaches the point
of greatest elongation, when Venus is in a position far enough away from the sun, but not directly in front of or behind it, that Venus is at its highest and brightest point in the sky.
Due to its position between Earth and the sun, Venus has phases much like the moon, so viewers will notice the planet’s irregular shape.
Check out other late night objects that were previously difﬁcult to see by looking through the new camera. The Great Cluster of Hercules (M13) can be seen in greater detail.
This globular cluster is a group of stars that form close to each other; the result is a region of space ﬁlled with millions of tightly packed stars.
These stars have formed so close to each other it is difﬁcult to differentiate them from one another and the whole area appears as one large celestial object.