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Baja Pony Express Baja Night Sky

Lodi, California
Destination Expert
for Cabo San Lucas
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25,329 posts
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Baja Pony Express Baja Night Sky

BAJA NIGHT #56: 1) New Moon is Sunday. Monday look for a thin crescent moon in the west one hour after sunset. 2) The planets Mercury, Venus, Saturn, and Mars are easily found from low in the SE to high in the SW around 5:30am. 3) In the 1700s, after Halley showed that comets were not portents of bad news, rather solar system members that orbited the sun, every cloudy spot in the night sky was considered a possible comet. To make comets easier to find, the French astronomer Messier systematically observed 109 of these spots in the northern skies. They did not move so they were not comets. They were star clusters and nebulae and became known as Messier objects M1 to M109. During the spring season they can all be found between dusk and dawn just using binoculars. But like bird watching, it takes practice. Here are two to start with. a) M44, the Beehive Cluster is an open cluster overhead around 9pm. If you can find Procyon in the winter hexagon, and Regulus in Leo, M44 is about 1/3 of the way from Procyon to Regulus. With binoculars it will jump out as a close group of 75 young stars 700 ly away. b) M4 is a globular cluster, a ball of thousands of orbiting stars held together by gravity. The entire cluster is orbiting the Milky Way with some 200 other globular clusters, the orbit carrying it right through the Galaxy and back. Look for it in the morning before 5:30am, just to the upper right of Antares in Scorpius high in the south. In dark skies, M4 and M44 can be spotted with unaided eyes. Binoculars make it easy. But a modest telescope is needed to resolve M4 into individual stars. Click here for help finding M4: earthsky.org/clusters-nebulae-galaxies/m4-gl… ; and here for M44: earthsky.org/clusters-nebulae-galaxies/praes… Tom S

1. Re: Baja Pony Express Baja Night Sky

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