TELESCOPIC HIGHLIGHTS


Most of the time, I select images that backyard astronomers can enjoy regardless of the type and size telescopes they use. IC 1396 fits the bill because of the wealth and diversity of views from this gigantic emission nebula. We'll start with the most obvious naked eye part of this region. Herschel's Garnet Star (about the 9:30 clock position near the edge of the white circle in the above image) shines orange-red at magnitude 4 similar in brightness to the dimmer stars that make up the shape of the constellation Cygnus the Swan. If you can't see the color, try again using binoculars. Most certainly you'll see it's beautiful hue in a small telescope. Keep in mind that this star is actually in the background about 3,400 light years behind IC 1396! The next brightest star which is actually inside this nebula is HD 206267 which shines at magnitude 6. It's responsible for lighting up (ionizing) the entire nebula! That's a lot of star power! HD 206267 is a triple star system where two of the components are "O" type Super Giant Stars. I was unable to get the angular separation data on these stars, but they are far away (2,000+ light years) and very close to each other from our perspective. This makes them impossible to "split" into three distinct stars in any telescopic field.

The next feature is for those who can image this nebula through a Hydrogen Alpha (HA) filter. A region of the nebula located on its right side is shaped like an elephant's trunk. So IC 1396 is also known as the Elephant Trunk Nebula.
Although Jupiter's opposition was last month, It is still large and bright above the southern horizon in June. 37 students from a high school in Albuquerque were looking at Jupiter and its 4 Galilean moons through the Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails SkyShed observatory in late May. There were exceptional good seeing skies that night so the Great Red Spot (GRS) was easy to see. There are several Apps available to check when the GRS will be visible. When you look at Jupiter, think of NASA's Juno spacecraft orbiting the Jovian planet in a polar orbit. Click on this link for the latest info on Juno:

 https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/main/index.html
The Spindle Galaxy (NGC 5866) is a controversial and enigmatic deep space object. It is a lenticular galaxy which means it exhibits characteristics of both a spiral and an elliptical galaxy. It has a very prominent dust lane across its center which is responsible for its name. In 1781, either Charles Messier or Pierre Mechain discovered it and gave its designation as M 102. But even that is disputed. It's relatively bright (magnitude 10.7) for its distance at 31 million light years and has a decent angular size (5x2 arc minutes).