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THE UNIVERSE FROM HERE, November 2020: “The Royal Family”
By TheNightRabbitAstronomer (Click here for a printable version.)
Ancient Greek myth tells the story of Queen Cassiopeia, King Cepheus, and their daughter Andromeda. When Cassiopeia bragged that she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs, the nymphs complained to Poseidon. Poseidon punished Cassiopeia by chaining Andromeda to a rock to be eaten by a sea monster! The hero Perseus happened along and rescued Andromeda just in time. The new couple eventually married in an equally bizarre wedding event.
You can “meet” this royal family in mid-November by facing north after dark and looking above Polaris (The North Star). King Cepheus is the dim house-shaped constellation above and to the left of Polaris. His wife, Queen Cassiopeia, is the brighter M-shaped constellation above him. Their daughter, Andromeda, appears above her mother; and Andromeda’s husband, Perseus, appears to her right. (See the Star Map below.)
“The Royal Constellations” are located in and around the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy where you will find many popular and easy to find deep sky objects. Those described in this article include some less well-known, but worthwhile, targets in the November Sky.
- NGC 6946 Fireworks Galaxy and NGC 6939 form a nice pair of hazy objects in the same 1-degree field of view… but they could not be more unrelated. NGC 6946 is a face-on spiral galaxy 10 million light years away (see Ram’s gallery), while NGC 6939 is a nearby bright and rich open cluster of young stars.
- Mu-Cephei is a red supergiant star which is one of the most luminous stars in the entire galaxy! It is also known as The Garnet Star for its deep red color. (This color is better seen in smaller aperture scopes!) My mom first introduced me to garnet stones with a ring she owns that was handed down from her great grandmother. I always think of my mom when I see this star.
- Delta-Cephei (δ-Cep) is pulsating, supergiant variable star (called a Cephid Variable) which forms a visual binary with its blue-white companion star, HD 213307. I found this pair “by accident,” and was struck by their colors. They remind me of the colorful Albireo (Beta-Cygni) pair in Cygnus (not pictured).
- NGC 7789 is a treasure! It is a dense open cluster shaped like a flower. It was first discovered by 19th century astronomer Caroline Herschel and is therefore known as “Caroline’s Rose” (see Stan’s image).
- NGC 281 is an emission nebula know as The Pacman Nebula because its circular haze with a triangular dark area looks vaguely like the Pacman video game character. It can be glimpsed visually with an oxygen-3 filter in small scopes, but it’s mostly an astro-photography target (see Stan’s gallery).
- NGC 663 is a bright open cluster which, like Caroline’s Rose, should probably have been included in the Messier Catalog. NGC 663 is easily seen with binoculars or small telescopes.
- NGC 869 and NGC 884 are two open clusters collectively known as The Double Cluster. Binoculars show two close sparkling patches of light, while telescopes reveal the vibrant colors and variations of their individual stars.
- Melotte 20 (Alpha-Persei Moving Group) is a large, nearby group of over 100 colorful new and old related stars. Like the Hyades and the Pleiades, it can be seen with the naked eye.
- M31, The Andromeda Galaxy, is our closest spiral-galactic neighbor, 2.5 million LY away. It is best observed visually in wide-field instruments (like binoculars) or photographically. Zooming in with a telescope reveals its fuzzy-bright core and its well known satellite galaxies: M32 and M110.
- NGC 147 and NGC 185 are a very faint pair of draft elliptical galaxies actually located in Cassiopeia. I include them here because, like M32 and M110, they are also satellites of M31.
- NGC 752 is a bright, loose open cluster located between Andromeda and Triangulum. The cluster is full of short chains, irregular clumps and a large number of double stars.
November 2020 Moon Phases
- 3rd Quarter: Sunday, November 8 - dark until midnight, best for finding this month’s deep sky objects
- New Moon: Sunday, November 15 - dark all night, great for all night star gazing
- 1st Quarter: Saturday, November 21 - dark after midnight, best for early risers
- Full BEAVER Moon: Monday, November 30 - named for the time that beavers, having stored enough food, take shelter for the winter
Our member submission for the month of November is the Fireworks Galaxy by Ram White taken with his Stellina Imaging System.
Public meetings are cancelled until further notice.
CAAA has been a NASA Night Sky Network member since 2004. The Night Sky Network(NSN) is a nationwide coalition of amateur astronomy clubs bringing the science, technology, and inspiration of NASA's missions to the general public.