Sky & Telescope - January 2022 - 25

FESTIVE SIGHT The Christmas
Tree Cluster and the Cone Nebula
nestle together in Monoceros. The
cluster stars are arranged in an
upside-down tree shape, and the
bright star S Monocerotis - representing
the trunk - is therefore at
the top of the asterism.
7 A Row in a River. Spanning about 46′ and marking the
northernmost bend in Eridanus, three stars, all designated by
the Greek letter rho (ρ), line up to form an interesting fuzzyobject
asterism that's visible to the naked eye. But the three
stars are unrelated. The westernmost star, Rho1 (8 Eridani), is
a 5.7-magnitude K0 giant about 300 light-years distant. In the
middle of the arc is Rho2 (9 Eridani), another K0 giant, that
shines at magnitude 5.4. Rho2 is actually a binary star with
an 8.9-magnitude companion around 1.4″ away. The pair is
about 260 light-years from Earth. Rho3 (10 Eridani), the closest
to Earth of the trio at 140 light-years, is magnitude 5.3.
8 A Rose within a Hare. Sometimes while observing,
one has to bear in mind that deep-sky objects might be
tinged with faint colors so as to actually perceive them. I'd
never noticed the reddish-pink hue of the planetary nebula
IC 418 in Lepus until I read an observing report by the late
veteran observer Barbara Wilson. At a Texas Star Party,
Wilson detected a red tint in the planetary's disk. Bearing
this in mind, I examined IC 418 carefully on my next
visit to the planetary. I did indeed see a pink envelope, and
averted vision brought the color out even more. I've shown
this pretty planetary to many observers in my 18-inch, and
I always ask them to describe the color. They usually invoke
blue-green until you suggest that there may be a tinge of
red in the object. Then, like a revelation, the color becomes
apparent to them. The power of suggestion is at play, perhaps.
The remarkable Hubble image of the object inspired the
moniker Spirograph Nebula, but its other nicknames are the
Raspberry Nebula and the Red Planetary. Those of us seeing
red are obviously not alone.
9 An Enumerated Cluster. The small open cluster
NGC 2169 is a favorite object at outreach events. The
arrangement of the 15 or so brightest stars in the group
uncannily resemble the number 37 in a 4-inch or larger
scope. The pattern is quite obvious once it's pointed out
and makes for added interest in an otherwise unremarkable
cluster of some 30 stars. Look for it in Orion's raised arm: It
forms the apex of a triangle pointing southwest, the base of
which is defined by Xi (ξ) and Nu (ν) Orionis. The 37 Cluster,
lying at a distance of some 3,000 light-years, is young - probably
about 10 million years old or less, which makes it an
important laboratory for the study of stellar evolution.
sk yand tele scope .o r g * JANUARY 2022 25
JIM THOMMES
https://skyandtelescope.org/

Sky & Telescope - January 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sky & Telescope - January 2022

Contents
Sky & Telescope - January 2022 - Cover1
Sky & Telescope - January 2022 - Cover2
Sky & Telescope - January 2022 - 1
Sky & Telescope - January 2022 - Contents
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Sky & Telescope - January 2022 - Cover3
Sky & Telescope - January 2022 - Cover4
Sky & Telescope - January 2022 - SA1
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