Fornax Dwarf Galaxy Globulars and Tsamma Melons

16th February 2018

20170412_085945It is surreal observing a handful of globular clusters that reside in a galaxy 630,000 light years distant… while the galaxy itself stays resolutely invisible: not even the mistiest hint of the parent galaxy – the Fornax Dwarf Galaxy – was visible.

To add to the surreal-ness of the evening, a little gang of donkeys wandered in from somewhere out there in the dark and, mere metres from me and the telescope, I could hear them, but not see them,

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The Paris Pişmiş Open Clusters

25th January 2018

Pismis

Open clusters are exquisitely beautiful. From the lovely daintiness of the small clusters to those blazing with brilliance, they display immense beauty and symmetry… the gorgeous colours, the range of magnitudes, the winding loops and chains of stars, the dark voids, whole fields scattered with diamond dust, the delicate glow of unresolved starlight… all so different, all so beautiful.

The twenty four Pişmiş open clusters don’t blaze. A few of them are exquisitely bright and delicate, others appear as tiny

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Fornax, a Treasure Trove

22nd January 2018

lacaillefornaxWere Fornax a movie star rather than a constellation of stars, I suspect it might make the same off-beam statement that movie stars make when they want to set some story straight in the press: “It’s an incorrect fact about me, and it’s all over the place”.

Fornax’s incorrect fact that is all over the place concerns the origin of its name. As we all know, the constellation was introduced by the French astronomer, Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, after his

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Simeis 147, A Ghostly SNR

21st December 2017

mbp_2011-11_Simeis147AndreoThe supernova remnant, Simeis 147, is without a doubt one of the most challenging observations I have ever made, but it was also one of my most rewarding observations. Its very, very faint and delicate filaments had a haunting beauty; indeed, it’s one of the most ethereal and ghostly objects I’ve ever observed… but it seems fitting that those wisps of light – all that remain of a massive star that died in a titanic explosion some 40,000 years ago

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Volans and the Joy of Kite Flying

14th December 2017

VolansOne of my favourite naked eye constellations is Volans because its brighter stars sketch out a gorgeous celestial kite flying in the sky, its tail streaming out behind it. In 1844, John Herschel proposed dropping Piscis Volans’ fish and shortening the constellations to just the adjective Volans. Francis Baily adopted this suggestion in his British Association Catalogue of 1845, and it has been known as that ever since… Flying… which couldn’t be more apt for this beautiful kite-shaped

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Poe and A Handful of Dwarf Galaxies

19th October 2017

2_Sculptor_Dwarf_Galaxy_940x694Last night I observed six dwarf galaxies, and the highlight of the evening was seeing for the first time the exceedingly dim and challenging Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy, and it was all thanks to Edgar Allan Poe…

The one thing I did not expect living in my remote dark skies cottage outside a remote village in the vastly remote Kalahari Desert was to enjoy an astonishingly eclectic reading experience! The owners of the charming little hotel in the village are,

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