Orion's Milky Way Scavenger Hunt is on! If you'd like to participate in the scavenger hunt for your chance to win a StarShoot AutoGuider Pro Mono Astrophotography Camera, please make sure you do two things first:
We've decided to begin each week's clue at Messier 39, or M39, in honor of Orion's 39th Anniversary, which we're celebrating this July.
Week 1: Let's Get Started
Our meeting place, M39, is an open star cluster, discovered in 1764 by Charles Messier, from his observatory in Paris, France. Located in the constellation Cygnus the Swan, the M39 cluster is sparse, containing only about 30 members, but these stars are young and bright, estimated to be just 200-300 million years old. At magnitude 5.5, M39 is bright enough to see without optical aid from a dark sky location. The cluster occupies approximately seven light years in volume, and at a distance of 825 light years from us, appears 32 arc minutes across?about the size of the Full Moon.
The cluster is a pleasing sight, even in small binoculars. In larger instruments, other dimmer clusters literally cluster around M39, such as NGC 7067, NGC 7082 and NGC 7071.
M39 is marked with the yellow cross in the image below. The first target in our scavenger hunt is also somewhere in this view.
Directions to M39:
Locate the constellation Cygnus, The Swan above the eastern horizon. The main stars in Cygnus are also known as the Northern Cross, as shown in white. The brightest star in the cross is Deneb. Find the middle star of the cross (Gamma Cygni), then the cross star nearest the horizon. From there, note two chains of stars. These chains end at two stars of near equal brightness. The cross marked in yellow is M39's location.
Once you've found M39, you're ready to begin the hunt!
Orion Scavenger Hunt Target #1:
- Find the King, then find the Queen.
- Between the two, this jewel is seen.
- Just over twenty degrees of angular separation, at an angle of 39 degrees from M39,
- is where this object shines.
At magnitude 6.9, you won't see it with the naked eye
It is half the angular size of M39, at 16 arcminutes.
You can see it easily in binoculars.
It is in our galaxy.
Very close by, someone had blown a bubble.
Its members count in the hundreds.
It is in the "Zone Of Avoidance" (ZOA), (first called the "Zone of Few Nebulae" in an 1878 paper by English astronomer Richard Proctor).
The object appears notably, yet falsely, to contain a bright orange star, of magnitude 8.
It can be found within the area shown in the M39 image above.
What is this object?
Send in your guess, with a sketch or image of the object, via a Facebook message to Orion Telescopes & Binoculars.