October’s Sky Challenges

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Published on: October 1, 2012

Astronomers and Star Gazers need a challenge when observing. Novices can be easily overwhelmed by long lists of challenging objects. Expert observers can be so focused on their projects, they easily can ignore the challenge provided by observing with different instruments.

By presenting three objects in each of several different groups, the hope is to provide all observers, no matter what their experience level, no matter what type of instruments they have access to, challenging objects to observe. There is even a group for the one instrument we are all born with, the naked-eye. Astrophotographers and astroimagers are not ignored here, either.

No matter what your experience, no matter what you use to observe, get outside and “Keep looking up!”[1]

This month Urban Skies Observing Challenges have been added.

October’s Sky Challenges

Naked-Eye Challenges

  • Galilean Moons of Jupiter
  • Uranus
  • Andromeda Galaxy

Binocular Challenges

  • NGC 7788, an open cluster of about 20 stars in Cassiopeia
  • ζ Cepheus, a binary star
  • Melotte 15, an open cluster of about 40 stars in Cassiopeia

Small Telescope Challenges

    For 2″ to 6″ telescopes:

  • NGC 663, an open cluster of about 80 stars in Cassiopeia
  • ι Triangulum, a binary star
  • M77, a class (R)SA(rs)b spiral galaxy in Cetus

Medium Telescope Challenges

    For 8″ to 14″ telescopes:

  • NGC 45, a barred spiral galaxy of class SAB(s)dm in Cetus
  • NGC 821, an elliptical galaxy in Aries
  • NGC 972, a spiral galaxy in Aries

Large Telescope Challenges

    For 16″ and larger telescopes:

  • NGC 185. a dwarf spheroidal galaxy (type dSph/dE3) in Cassiopeia. NGC 185 is a satellite of M31
  • M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, a type SA(s)cd spiral galaxy
  • NGC 1024, a spiral galaxy in Aries

Urban Observing Challenges

  • Comet 103P Hartley 2
  • Kruger 60, an interesting binary star system in Cepheus. With a short period of only 44.7 years, you can easily see Kruger 60’s PA change about 8 degrees per year. Also it is only 13 light years away, making Kruger 60 one of Earth’s nearest neighbors. Both components are low-mass red dwarfs, Kruger 60 B is one of the lowest mass stars known at 0.18 M⨀. Finally, Kruger 60 B is also a flare star, irregularly doubling in brightness for periods lasting about 5 to 10 minutes. When it flares, it can match or exceed Kruger 60 A in brightness
  • Neptune

Urban Skies Observing Challenges

  • Novice: Any Solar System Object
  • Intermediate: M31 – The Great Andromeda Galaxy
  • Expert: NGC 7293 – The Helix Nebula

Astrophotography/Imaging Challenges

  • Novice: Any Solar System Object
  • Intermediate: M31 – The Great Andromeda Galaxy
  • Expert: NGC 7293 – The Helix Nebula

References

  1. Jack Horkheimer, Star Gazer, 1976

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