TELESCOPIC HIGHLIGHTS


There's lots to see in this sky image mainly because you are looking toward the center of the Milky Way which is about half way down to the horizon below Jupiter. Instead, we're going to concentrate on a small magnitude 7 dot which is minor planet Ceres. You can set up your scope earlier around 9:30 PM MDT, but Ceres will be only half as high above the horizon and a bit left of the SE horizon marker. Ceres will be about as bright as it can be on this night when it's at opposition. However, you won't know the difference if you look for it on any night from May 25 through 31.
For all you star hoppers out there who don't have access to a computerized telescope, here's a close up field of relatively bright stars that you can use to star hop from Antares to Ceres. I've included globular cluster M4 if you get bored looking at small dim Ceres. It's interesting to note that M4 at 7,200 light years distant is actually brighter than Ceres which is closer to us than Jupiter!
Here's a size comparison image for Ceres compared to our Earth and the Moon. Ceres is also smaller than Pluto and about the same size as Pluto's largest moon, Charon.
Virgo Supercluster of Galaxies. I'm like a kid in a candy store when this time of year rolls around. In March, we got a glimpse of what's to come after viewing NGC 2903 and NGC 3628 The Hamburger or Sarah's Galaxy. Now comes the MAIN EVENT when the cavalcade of galaxies in the Virgo and Coma clusters are prime for viewing from mid April through May. Rather than show you what galaxies are best to view, I instead recommend scanning your telescope between Denebola (Leo's tail star) to Coma Berenices. Make sure you look everywhere in the small area of this constellation as it contains not only the Coma Star Cluster, but also the Coma Galaxy Cluster which I imaged last year. There are about 1,000 galaxies in this cluster alone! Next, scan between Denebola and Arcturus to find Markarian's Chain of galaxies and many more Messier galaxies as you continue toward Arcturus. Don't forget M104, the Sombrero Galaxy which is best viewed in May. The unique and relatively bright Sombrero is located between Virgo The Maiden and Corvus The Crow constellations. Considering I'm able to image perhaps 5 galaxies per year in this region and I image the night sky as often as I practically can, there's literally a lifetime of galaxies to study here. The more you see, image, and learn about these island universes, the more you'll want to hunt the night skies for them. Many sport interesting shapes and some get mixed up in a cosmic dance where they share stars with each other and/or warp each other's beautiful and graceful spiral arms. HAPPY HUNTING!