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Friday, November 27, 2015

Sky Tonight—April 28, Spica is your guide star to Omega Centauri cluster

Courtesy of EarthSky
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Silvery-blue Spica, the only prominent star in the constellation Virgo, acts as your guide to the Omega Centauri globular star cluster. To the unaided eye, Omega Centauri looks like a faint (and possibly fuzzy) star. Very few of the Milky Way galaxy’s 250 or so globular clusters are readily visible without optics.

To find Spica, extend the curve of the Big Dipper handle, as illustrated on our April 5 EarthSky Tonight. Spica transits – climbs to its highest point in the sky – around midnight tonight. Spica’s precise transit time for your sky is available at the US Naval Observatory. Like any star, Spica transits 4 minutes earlier with each passing night.

Spica: Speed on

As seen from mid-northern latitudes, Spica and Omega Centauri transit due south in concert. Look for Omega Centauri about 35 degrees directly below Spica. (A fist at an arm-length approximates 10 degrees.)

People living south of 35 degrees north latitude have a realistic chance of spotting Omega Centauri, though it has been seen as far north as Point Pelee, Canada (42 degrees north). Best appreciated with a telescope, Omega Centauri, the largest and brightest of all globular star clusters, is a globe-shaped stellar city, teeming with millions of stars!

Omega Centauri: Largest and brightest star cluster

Top tips for using ordinary binoculars for stargazing

By Bruce McClure



Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA/JPL

EarthSky: Space

CHANDRA Photo Album

U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information center

Universe Today

StarDate Online

Sky and Telescope

National Geographic

Space Com

Simostronomy Blog

Amazing Space

The York County Astronomical Society

Scope City

James S McDonnell Planetarium

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