Our mission is to inform, educate and entertain by providing a varied and interesting program of activities for our membership and the communities we serve. Our projects include educational programs and presentations by guest speakers and our members, public star parties, field observation of various astronomical events and trips to observatories and other space science venues. If you are as interested in Astronomy as we are, we hope you will join us at one of our star parties, meetings, or lectures. If you would like to become a member please click HERE.
Membership is open to anyone with an interest in astronomy; no equipment required.
Spring is often called Galaxy Season, because it is one of the best times of the year to observe our galactic neighbors. Why? What makes spring so special for galaxies? Location, location, location!
Our Position in the Milky Way
The earth and planets of the solar system orbit the sun in a flat circle called “the ecliptic.” This circle tilts at a 60 degree angle with the plane of the Milky Way. As the earth orbits the sun, our night-sky faces “upwards” away from the galaxy in the spring, inwards toward the center of the galaxy in summer, “downwards” away the galaxy in the fall, and outwards toward the outer bands of the galaxy in the winter. (see diagram in the newsletter online)
During spring and fall, without the obscuring gas and dust in the galactic plane, we can see literally billions of light years into deep space.
The North Galactic Pole
This month, when you look straight overhead (from the northern hemisphere), you are looking towards the “North Galactic Pole” (NGP). The NGP is a point in the sky that represents the north pole of the Milky Way Galaxy, analogous to the earth’s north celestial pole. There is no galactic “north star;” but the NGP is located near the star 31-Com along the northern border of the constellation Coma Berenices (Com).
Exploring the Galactic North
Coma Berenices is difficult to find in all but the darkest of skies. It is a roughly square-shaped constellation centered between 4 better known constellations: Ursa Major to the north, Boötes to the east, Virgo to the south, and Leo to the west. (See map on back of newsletter.) Together these constellations map the galactic north and the locations of many important deep sky objects, including:
The June meeting will be Monday, June 3, 2019 at 7PM at the Clemson Central Library.