This weekend will be the best time to view the summer Milky Way
With the summer monsoon in high gear, we still have a great opportunity to see one of the most amazing sights in all of our Arizona skies.
I refer to the dark of the moon, or new moon skies, which we will have this coming weekend.
With possible monsoon free skies and no moon, we have the perfect setting to experience the wonders of the summer Milky Way.
During this weekend, look to the southern skies as far as you can be from city lights and you will get to experience the central star cloud of this amazing galaxy which we live in: The Milky Way.
Begin your observations starting around 9 p.m. local time, as the stars of the zodiac constellation Sagittarius will be in full view.
The planet Saturn rides high above the teapot shaped group of stars, with lots of gas and dust clouds to give even the most basic observer, a true sight to remember.
This is the general region in the sky which leads the way to the central core of our galaxy, some 27,000 light years from your eye. Imagine, it takes the light you see tonight in this stellar nursery, 27,000 years, just to get to your eyes.
Try and view this region in a pair of binoculars and I assure you, you will be more than amazed at the number of star clusters, nebula and stars that will appear before your eyes!
Did you know that more than half of the world’s population has never seen the Milky Way due to bright urban lighting and pollution?
Here in Arizona, we have some of the best skies with large areas of deep dark star fields, if you know when are where to look.
One major star cluster to look for in the Sagittarius region is the famous Lagoon Nebula.
This is a large mass of gas and dust that can bee seen with the naked eye and is some 4,000 light years from your eye. In the sky, the object is larger than the full moon in size, along with being 110 x 50 light years wide.
Another amazing object which lies within the Sagittarius region is a globular star cluster, known as, M22.
M22 is one of the many famous Messier objects, added to a catalog of objects which looked like comets, but were not.
M22 was discovered back in the year 1665 and was added to the Messier catalog on June 5, 1764. M22 is a large ball of some 70,000 individual stars, some 11,000 light years from us.
Finding M22 is rather easy, as it is just a few degrees to the lower left of the bright planet Saturn.
On the darkest of nights, M22, is nearly the size of the full moon, as the fainter stars become visible in binoculars and a telescope.
M22 is thought to contain two massive black holes at the central core. If you were able to view the sky around the core of M22, you might see stars, literally packing every square inch of your sky. A most amazing sight indeed!
The famous Hale-Bopp comet was discovered near M22 back in 1995 and put on a most amazing sight for observers around the globe.
Sagittarius is one of the original 48 constellations mentioned by the famous second-century astronomer Ptolemy and is the location for the winter solstice in December.
Sagittarius is a centaur pulling back a large bow and the real image of this constellation in the sky, is that of a large “teapot.”
Just to the right of Sagittarius, is the amazing constellation of Scorpius, the scorpion.
Scorpius looks just like a large scorpion, spread out in our dark Arizona skies, with two bright stars marking the stinger.
The Milky Way shines bright in this region of the sky too!