May Skies

Hello Everyone, VCAS member Dave Holland here. I will be taking over The Observer's Corner from Hal Jandorf (we miss you Hal). Hope you enjoy it.

  Now that most of the Winter constellations are gone, we now are in the middle of Spring. This is Galaxy Season. There many bright enough galaxies that can be seen in small to moderate sized telescopes if you get to a dark observing site. Also, there are a number of Double Stars that you can add to your list of objects to observe. 

Five of my favorite deep-sky objects for May: M3, M51, M63, M64, M104

M3 is a large, bright Globular at mag. 6.4 in Canes Venatici that is visible in a 4". Also in Canes Venatcic is M63, the Sunflower Galaxy at mag. 8.4. Again in Canes Venatici is The Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, is an easy one to spot in a 6" but you'll need darker skies to see the bridge that connects NGC 5195. At mag. 8.3 is M64, the Black-Eye Galaxy with a dark band of absorbing dust in front of the nucleus. Located in Coma Berenices. And last is M104 The Sombrero Galaxy, a fine edge-on galaxy with a nice dark lane visible at mag. 8.3. Look for it in Virgo.

Algieba (Gamma Leonis) is a beautiful double star in Leo. Shining  at mags. 2.3 and 3.5, a 4" telescope easily splits the pair. Colors are orange-red and yellow. Another favorite double is Mizar (Zeta Ursae Majoris) and Alcor, located in the bend of the handle of the Big Dipper. Both stars make a wonderful sight in a small telescope or binoculars. Also, if you have keen eyesight you can split these with the naked eye. Mizar and its companion are bluish-white and white. 

Clear and Dark Skies, Dave Holland