Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 27th June to Sunday 3rd July 2022

    The end of June is an ideal time to see a teapot with steam coming out of the spout! Have I gone completely mad? I'd better explain..........

    There are 88 official constellations of stars recognised by the International Astronomical Union. They all have familiar names like Orion that are tied back to ancient mythology - Orion was the Hunter. Another such constellation is Sagittarius, whose name is derived from the Latin word for an archer with a bow and arrow.

    If you look towards the south after midnight, Sagittarius will be close to the horizon.

    Other patterns of stars that are easy to spot, but are not official constellations are called "asterisms". Within Sagittarius is the "teapot" asterism, so named because it looks like a teapot with the handle to the left and spout to the right. From a dark sky location, it is possible to see the Milky Way that resembles faint cloud - actually millions of very distant stars in our galaxy. This cloud looks like steam coming out of the teapot.

    Just above and to the right of the teapot's lid is a treat for binocular or telescope users - the Lagoon Nebula that is also known as M8 in the Messier Catalogue. M8 is classed as an emission nebula where ionised Hydrogen gives birth to new stars. The nebula is estimated to be between 4000 and 6000 light years away from us and even with simple binoculars it should be possible to make out a distinct patch of fuzzy cloud with a bright centre.

    Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2022

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