With the summer sky in August beginning to get a little darker, now is the time to explore the stars on the southern horizon at ~ 22:00 BST which are dominated by Scorpius and Sagittarius and the centre of our Milky Way.  There are lots of deep sky objects in this region so here is another pick of the best. In Scorpius Antares is a bright red star often called the 'Rival of Mars' so when Mars lies close to it then it is worth comparing them. Nearby to it and forming a triangle with Sigma Sco is the globular cluster M4 and higher up in Scorpius lies another globular, M80. Omega Sco is a wide naked eye double star worth viewing.  

Very low down, only just above the horizon (except for northern regions), are two open clusters, M7 and M6 as seen here in a  recent image taken from mid Lincolnshire.

M22 and M28 are globulars and easily found near Lambda Sagittarii. We also have several nebula of note, M8 the Lagoon nebula is quite large and diffuse whilst near to it lies the more challenging M20, Trifid Nebula with a small star cluster close to it, M21.

Look out for M17 the Omega or Swan nebula and M16 the Eagle nebula, of which the most obvious feature is the star cluster but it is home to the ‘Pillars of Creation’ (cover photo).  There are plenty of other objects higher up the Milky Way so take a tour and see what you find along the way!

Cygnus and the Summer Triangle

09-Sep-smr-tri.jpgThe Summer Milky Way is well placed to view in the evenings’ especially the section from Cygnus down to Aquila. The three brightest stars in this region form the 'Summer Triangle' and they are the stars, Deneb in Cygnus, Vega in Lyra and Altair in Aquila. Our Solar System lies almost in the galactic plane so we see our galaxy the Milky Way side on, but that allows us to also see the obscuring effects of interstellar dust causing the darker patches running through the image at right and below.

Pink-red nebula are also  found along the galactic plane and several patches lie in Cygnus as seen in the additional images below. The best example is the North America nebula NGC 7000 which lies just to the side of Deneb and the nebulosity surrounding Sadr. Other highlights include the wonderful blue/gold double star Albireo. It can just be split in binoculars but a telescope reveals them in all their glory. Also check out M57, the aptly named ‘Ring’ Nebula which lies in the base of Lyra.

Have fun whatever instrument you use to explore the night sky!

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The Deep Sky Wanderer