One of the most mystical and beautiful objects to view through a telescope are giant clouds of dust and gas in space called Nebulae. Created from the gas and dust thrown out by the explosion of a dying star, such as a supernova, they are magical regions where new stars are beginning to form called ‘star nurseries’. They are a favourite for astronomers and here are our top picks!
1. The Orion Nebula
The constellation of Orion the Hunter lies high in the northern sky through March and April. Within the constellation lies the better-known asterism, the Saucepan and if you train a telescope onto the middle star in the handle, you will find the brilliant Orion Nebula. This is the closest star forming region to Earth, lying about 1,350 light years away. .
2. The Tarantula Nebula
The Large and Small Magellanic Cloud galaxies lie in our southern skies and from Earth look like two faint clouds. The Tarantula Nebula has clouds of gas twisting from its core, appearing like the hairy legs of a spider, hence the name. It is a massive gaseous region of approx. 1,000 light years in diameter. To find the Tarantula Nebula, look for the Large Magellanic Cloud in the southern sky, and scan the eastern side of the object for the bright glowing knot of gas and dust.
3. The Eta Carinae Nebula
The Eta Carinae Nebula is a bright, large emission nebula located in the southern constellation Carinae. It lies about 24 degrees West (to the right) of the Southern Cross. Near its centre lies a bright orange star called Eta Carinae, a definite supernova candidate. The estimated distance of the nebula is 7,500 light years away from Earth and is gigantic, spanning 300 lightyears.
Need a Dark Sky?
So, if you have got through the bustle of the holidays, why not take a breather, re-charge the batteries and go outside to look upon our marvellous starry skies. The views are breathtaking, particularly in #astrotourism country, and maybe stargazing and astronomy can become your hobby as well.