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Constellation In Focus: Aquarius
Constellation In Focus: Aquarius

The Saturn Nebula (NGC 7009) is an oval Mag 8 fuzzy patch hanging in space about 4,000 lightyears distant. Medium-sized scopes show a ring with "knobs" on either side.

M72, close by, is a small remote globular cluster, difficult to resolve. The open cluster M73 is a tiny triangular collection of stars, barely noticeable. However, the same field of view contains a lovely Lyra-like asterism.

The Mag 7 globular cluster M2 is about 40,000 lightyears away. Although among the brightest of globs in the sky, M2's core is so concentrated that, as an observational object, it ranks as one of the less compelling.

The Helix Nebula (C63/NGC 7293) is a tricky target. Although it is the largest visible planetary in the night sky (about half the apparent diameter of the full moon) it's quite dim. Dark skies are a must. A low power eyepiece in your telescope, with averted vision, may give you some hint of structure.

Finally, 103 lightyears distant is one of the sky's finest doubles, Zeta Aquarius.

Date Taken: 05/24/2011
Author: Sean O'Dwyer
Category: Observing Guides

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