The late summer is an awesome time for star gazing. The skies are typically clear, dry and warm – perfect conditions for seeing many a deep sky wonders.
Right at the end of evening twilight, the summer Milky Way is already arching right over the top of the sky. A slow sweep with binoculars will reveal all sorts of “small fuzzy blobs” in there – star clusters and nebulae.
Star clusters actually come in two major types. “Open Clusters” are loose gatherings of young stars numbering from the dozens to the hundreds. A great example that we’ll examine is “M11” otherwise known as the Wild Duck Cluster. It’s a beautifully rich cluster over 6000 light years away that reveals a roughly “delta” shape, which gave early observers the impression of a flock of flying birds. Even a small telescope will resolve the object into a multitude of tiny stars.
Many other summer objects are high in the sky for prime observing – the Ring Nebula in Lyra, the globular cluster in Hercules, and the beautiful double star “Alberio” in Cygnus. Come and see how to observe them!