OBSERVATIONS

The Stamford Observatory has taken some magnificent photographs of various significant stars, planets, moons and more.

Messier 82 ~ Cigar Galaxy ~ 3Min

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Discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1774.
Forming a most conspicuous physical pair with its neighbor, M81 (THE showpiece galaxies for many Northern hemispherers), this galaxy is the prototype of an irregular of the second type, i.e. a "disk" irregular. Its core seems to have suffered dramatically from a semi-recent close encounter with M81, being in a heavy starburst and displaying conspicuous dark lanes. This turbulent explosive gas flow is also a strong source of radio noise, discovered by Henbury Brown in 1953. The radio source was first called Ursa Major A (strongest radio source in UMa) and cataloged as 3C 231 in the Third Cambridge Catalogue of Radio Sources.
In the infrared light, M82 is the brightest galaxy in the sky; it exhibits a so-called infrared excess (it is much brighter at infrared wavelengths than in the visible part of the spectrum). This behaviour can also be observed for the companion of M51, NGC 5195, and the peculiar galaxy NGC 5128 (Centaurus A). The visual appearance is that of a silvery sliver, as John Mallas decribed it.
Right Ascension ~ 09 : 55.8 (h:m)
Distance ~ 12000 (kly)
Apparent Dimension ~ 9x4 (arc min)
Declination ~ +69 : 41 (deg:m)
Visual Brightness ~ 8.4 (mag)

M-101 ~ Pinwheel Galaxy

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M101 was discovered by Pierre Mechain on March 27, 1781, and added as one of the last entries in Charles Messier's catalog. It was the first "spiral nebula" identified as such by William Parsons, the third Earl of Rosse.
At the new distance from the HST and Hipparcos, it has a linear diameter of over 170,000 light years and is thus among the biggest disk galaxies, and its total apparent visual brightness of 7.9 mag corresponds to an absolute brightness of -21.6 magnitudes, or a luminosity of about 30 billion (3*10^10) times that of our sun.
Right Ascension ~ 14:03.2 (h:m)
Distance ~ 27000 (kly)
Apparent Dimension ~ 22.0 (arc min)
Declination ~ +54:21 (deg:m)
Visual Brightness ~ 7.9 (mag)

M-13 ~ Hercules Globular Cluster

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M13, also called the `Great globular cluster in Hercules', is one of the most prominent and best known globulars of the Northern celestial hemisphere. It was discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714, who noted that `it shows itself to the naked eye when the sky is serene and the Moon absent.' According to Charles Messier, who cataloged it on June 1, 1764, it is also reported in John Bevis' "English" Celestial Atlas.
Globular cluster M13 was selected in 1974 as target for one of the first radio messages addressed to possible extra-terrestrial intelligent races, and sent by the big radio telescope of the Arecibo Observatory.
Right Ascension ~ 16 : 41.7 (h:m)
Distance ~ 25.1 (kly)
Apparent Dimension ~ 20.0 (arc min)
Declination ~ +36 : 28 (deg:m)
Visual Brightness ~ 5.8 (mag)

M-27 ~ Dumbbell Nebula

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The Dumbbell Nebula M27 was the first planetary nebula ever discovered. On July 12, 1764, Charles Messier discovered this new and fascinating class of objects, and describes this one as an oval nebula without stars. The name "Dumb-bell" goes back to the description by John Herschel, who also compared it to a "double-headed shot."
We happen to see this one approximately from its equatorial plane (approx. left-to-right in our image); this is similar to our view of another, fainter Messier planetary nebula, M76, which is called the "Little Dumbbell". From near one pole, it would probably have the shape of a ring, and perhaps look like we view the Ring Nebula M57.
By comparing images of the Dumbbell Nebula M27, Leos Ondra has discovered a variable star situated in the very outskirts of the nebula which he called Goldilocks' Variable. This variable can be found in some of our images, namely those of Jack Newton, Peter Sutterlin and (faintly) David Malin's INT photo, as well as one of the images by John Sefick. Other images such as the one in this page don't show this star, proving its variability.
Right Ascension ~ 19 : 59.6 (h:m)
Distance ~ 1.25 (kly)
Apparent Dimension ~ 8.0x5.7 (arc min)
Declination ~ +22 : 43 (deg:m)
Visual Brightness ~ 7.4 (mag)

M-51 ~ Whirlpool Galaxy ~ 7Min

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The famous Whirlpool galaxy M51 was one of Charles Messier's original discoveries: He discovered it on October 13, 1773, when observing a comet, and described it as a "very faint nebula, without stars" which is difficult to see. Its companion, NGC 5195, was discovered in 1781 by his friend, Pierre Mechain, so that it is mentioned in Messier's 1784 catalog: `It is double, each has a bright center, which are separated 4'35". The two "atmospheres" touch each other, the one is even fainter than the other.' NGC 5195 was assigned an own number by William Herschel: H I.186.
The Hubble Space Telescope has investigated especially the central region of M51. Its compact nucleus is now classified as of Seyfert type 2.5. Newer HST investigations (published 2001) focus on investigation of the inner spiral arms and dust clouds, which are the birth sites of massive and luminous stars. ESA's ISO (Infrared Space Observatory) satellite has investigated the Whirlpool Galaxy in the infrared light.
Right Ascension ~ 13:29.9 (h:m)
Distance ~ 37000 (kly)
Apparent Dimension ~ 11x7 (arc min)
Declination ~ +47:12 (deg:m)
Visual Brightness ~ 8.4 (mag)

Earth's Very Own Satellite: Our Moon

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The Moon may be the Earth's only natural satellite, but with a diameter of 3,474 km, it is more than a quarter the size of Earth itself, and the largest moon in our galaxy. Because of its smaller size in relation to the Earth, it's gravity is only one-sixth that of Earth. Remember the giant leaps of the Apollo astronauts?

Jupiter, Bringer of Jollity

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Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and is by far the largest, more than twice as massive as the combined mass of all the other planets.
318 times the size of Earth
Orbit: 778,330,000 km (5.20 AU) from Sun
Diameter: 142,984 km (equatorial)
Mass: 1.900e27 kg

Saturn, Bringer of Old Age

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Saturn is the sixth planet from our Sun and the second largest in the solar system. It boasts a diameter of 119,300 kilometers (74,130 miles) at its equator. Much of what we now know about Saturn is due to the Voyager explorations in 1980-81.

Comet West, 1976

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The last appearance of Comet West was about 550,000 BC.

M-31 The Andromeda Galaxy

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Andromeda is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way galaxy, yet so distant from Earth it takes about two million years for its light to reach us.

M-42 The Great Orion Nebula

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The Orion Nebula is one of the most interesting objects in our sky. Looking, to the naked eye, like a star in the sword of the constellation Orion, but with binoculars or a telescope, it can be seen as a large glowing cloud of gaseous material.

Comet Hale-Bopp, 1997

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Earth Closest Approach: March 22, 1997 (1.315 AU)
Sun Closest Approach: April 1, 1997 03:14 UT (0.914 AU)
1 AU = 93 Million Miles = 150 Million Kilometers