Auriga - Downloadable article
Within the confines of the Charioteer, the winter Milky Way comes alive with bright star clusters and dazzling nebulae.
March 3, 2009
|This downloadable article is from an Astronomy magazine 45-article series called "Celestial Portraits." The collection highlights all 88 constellations in the sky and explains how to observe each constellation's deep-sky targets. The articles feature star charts, stunning pictures, and constellation mythology. We've put together 11 digital packages. Each one contains four Celestial Portraits articles for you to purchase and download.|
"Auriga" is one of four articles included in Celestial Portraits Package 9.
Brisk winter evenings might seem the perfect time to curl up with a good book next to a toasty fireplace. Yet to a deep-sky observer, the cozy indoors can't hold a candle to the often crystal-clear skies of the season.
Look straight overhead on these winter evenings and your eyes will land on a stretch of the Milky Way located exactly opposite the galaxy's center. Here the gauzy band appears faintest and shows little of the structure — vast star clouds and dark nebulae — common elsewhere. Like any swath of the Milky Way, however, this region brims with wonderful star clusters and delicate emission nebulae.
The bright foreground stars in this direction belong to the constellation Auriga the Charioteer, which forms a distinct pentagon shape north of Taurus the Bull. Capella stands as the gem of Auriga. Gleaming at magnitude 0.1, it ranks as the sky's sixth brightest star. This yellow star has a color similar to the Sun's, but it's a superstar in comparison. The Sun would barely be visible to the naked eye if it were at Capella's distance of 42 light-years. To the east, Theta (θ) and Beta (β) Aurigae make a great pair of pointer stars to Polaris. To read the complete article, purchase and download Celestial Portraits Package 9.
|Deep-sky objects in Auriga|
Palomar 2, NGC 1664, Barnard 29, IC 405, NGC 1857, IC 410, NGC 1893, NGC 1907, Stock 8, M38 (NGC 1912), NGC 1931, M36 (NGC 1960), M37 (NGC 2099), IC 2149, Theta (θ) Aurigae, UU Aurigae, NGC 2281