Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - 54

JANUARY 2021 OBSERVING
Suburban Stargazer by Ken Hewitt-White

Taking on Taurus
Even under bright city skies, the Bull contains
celestial sights worth seeking.

W

elcome to Suburban Stargazer,
our new bimonthly column
dedicated to deep-sky observing in
light-blighted backyards. I live in a
small Canadian burg, a few blocks
north of several brilliantly illuminated
car dealerships. Believe me, I know the
challenges and frustrations of city scoping. Like many of you, I can't always
pack up and hit the highway in search
of pristine skies. More often, I'm stuck
at home. So, when the sky clears above
my suburban yard, I set up one or two
scopes and make the best of it.
I hope you'll join me as I track
down various double stars, all kinds of
clusters and nebulae - even the odd
galaxy. Thanks to today's affordable

54

JANUARY 2 021 * SK Y & TELESCOPE

quality telescopes and accessories, you
can observe many celestial treasures in
a compromised sky. Indeed, the number
of faint fuzzies accessible from town
just might surprise you.
So, let's turn off the porch light and
get out there!

Taurus Up Front
The constellation Taurus, arguably the
zodiac's most fearless figure, got a raw
deal. Only the front portion of the big
bad Bull is depicted on star maps - his
rear end (mercifully for us) is lost in
space. It's the region around Taurus's
head and horns we'll be exploring in
this debut installment of Suburban
Stargazer.

The Bull's head is outlined by the
Hyades, a vast, 4°-wide, V-shaped star
cluster. The grouping is dominated by
0.8-magnitude Aldebaran, or Alpha (α)
Tauri, although it's merely a foreground
star and not a true cluster member. The
reddish-orange sun symbolizes a bright
bloodshot eye, while 3.5-magnitude
Epsilon (ε) Tauri marks the other, less
menacing eye.
I always enjoy sweeping across the
sprawling Hyades Cluster using a scope
at low magnification. But one wee
Hyad, easily found halfway between
Aldebaran and Epsilon, pays dividends
at high power. It's a binary cataloged as
ɇ559 (Struve 559) that sports identical
7.0-magnitude stars exactly 3″ apart.
The far-off headlights of Σ559 resolve
in my 8-inch f/6 Newtonian reflector
at 135×. Nice!
The Bull's extra-long horns extend
eastward from the Hyades. The southern horn goes from Aldebaran to
3.0-magnitude Zeta (ζ), the northern
one from Epsilon to 1.6-magnitude
Beta (β), or Elnath. Within that region
are two 6th-magnitude open clusters. A
diagonal line connecting Aldebaran to
Elnath intersects both of them.
The first cluster, NGC 1647, is
located on the western flank of the
Taurus Milky Way, 3½° northeast of
Aldebaran. At the correct spot, a finderscope will pick up two yellow-orange
markers 5′ apart. The 6.0- and 7.5-magnitude stars point to our glittery prize
immediately northward. In my 8-inch
Dob at 50×, NGC 1647 is a moderately
attractive catch. I count maybe 60
members, all but one fainter than magnitude 8.5, spread across 40′. Northeast
of the cluster's center is a pretty tandem
named AG 311, which features 8.9- and
9.3-magnitude stars separated by 33″.

RON BRECHER

W SUPERNOVA AFTERMATH The Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant - a roiling cloud of
shredded ejecta expanding from an exploded
sun. The light from that stellar paroxysm 6,300
light-years away reached Earth on July 4th,
1054. Almost eight centuries later, in 1844, a
sketch of the faint, irregularly shaped haze by
Irish nobleman William Parsons, the Third Earl
of Rosse, featured spindly filaments resembling
the legs of a crustacean - hence the name
Crab Nebula.



Sky & Telescope - January 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sky & Telescope - January 2021

Contents
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - Cover1
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - Cover2
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - 1
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - Contents
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - 3
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - 4
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - 5
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Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - Cover3
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - Cover4
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - SA1
Sky & Telescope - January 2021 - SA2
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