ASTRONOMY: Below the belt

August 17, 2006 11:00 pm

By RYC RIENKS

Naked-eye sights: The formation of a star and perhaps even a solar system must be an exciting thing to see, don't you agree? Well then, while you are out looking at our morning procession of planets follow the line they describe up and right to the constellation Orion. Descending from Orion's belt is his sword. If you see a fuzzy spot in the line of stars that form it, it is not your eyes. You have found the Orion Nebula.

Binocular sights: Again we turn to the Orion Nebula. It is such a fine example that I would be cheating you if I didn't suggest you turn your binoculars on it. You should be able to see that it is not a single point of light but a star speckled fuzzy area. A perfect example of a nebula.

Telescope sights: Surprise! Our telescope sight is . . . right! The Orion Nebula. Even a small telescope will show you the luminous cloud of dust and the stars within. The dust glows thanks to the blue-white, brand new stars formed in this area. In time the photon pressure will blow the dust away, leaving behind a small open star cluster. Of course we won't be here to see it then. But we saw it when it was young.

Suggested publication: Astronomy magazine published recently a magazine bound "Atlas Of The Stars" with a cover price of $12.95. Since most full sky atlases can run over $100.00 this is a bargain and with careful handling will give years of service. See page 44 for the Orion Nebulae.

recommended web sites: Many groups exist to assist the amateur astronomer. One, The Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, is worth reviewing if you want to work our solar system. http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/alpo/