Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Southern Cross in March

If one stays up late enough, the Southern Cross comes up in the far south. This picture shows the southern cross at the lower left corner of the picture. It looks like a kite, or diamond, with three blue-white stars at the sides and bottom, and a yellow one at the top. The dark area at the corner of the picture, to the lower left of the Southern Cross, is a dark nebula called the Coal Sack. Sunday night was the first time that Pierre observed it from Bonaire, and the second for me. Now Pierre has seen it really well from Namibia and Chile, but that's another story.

The Eta Carina nebula and some big open clusters are towards the upper right of the picture.
The nebula is reddish in color. It looked absolutely amazing Sunday night in Pierre's 22x60 Takahashi binoculars. I liked the view even better than the big Orion nebula. Those large star clusters were naked eye objects Sunday night. Bob Fitzgerald used to call them "lights in the sky" and that's certainly what they resembled that night.

I didn't do that much post processing to this picture, as opposed to the one of the comet that I posted a day or so ago. I stretched the contrast of that one like crazy to make the comet and nebula show up. This part of the sky looked great right out of the camera, which is cool, since it looked so awesome live.

There is some haze at the bottom of the image that I could probably clean up. I'm hoping to image this part of the sky some more in the months to come, so I probably won't invest too much time in this picture... unless we have cloudy nights and I get the star gazing stir crazies.

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