Gateway to the Stars September 1st: Star Clusters Galore!

Mike Murray

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.

globular cluster in Hercules

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.

Wild Duck Cluster

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!

Gateway to the Stars starts at 6:45 pm on Saturday, September 1 in the Hansen Dome Theatre.

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