ASTRONOMY COLUMN: Get out and get looking up at the Leitrim night sky

Sarah Jane Mc Glinchey

Reporter:

Sarah Jane Mc Glinchey

Orions Belt

The Orion Nebula is one of the brightest deep space objects and shines so brilliantly that it can be seen with the naked eye, lying south of Orions Belt, that bright area you see, is M42

Deep space objects aren’t as daunting to find in the sky as they might sound, many are so bright that they are easily seen with the naked eye.

A deep space object is one that lies outside our solar system, the main ones being star clusters, galaxies and nebulae.

Star clusters are probably the most apparent in the sky and very well-known, the Pleiades and Hyades of the constellation Taurus you would have looked on without realising.

Galaxies are much farther and unless you have very dark, clear skies you will need binoculars to view them.

There are two spiral galaxies which are perfect for beginners to look for, the infamous Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest spiral galaxy, and the Triangulum Galaxy located in the constellation Triangulum.

Lastly, nebulae (from the Latin word for cloud) are as you may have guessed, clouds of dust and gas where new stars are formed.

Bright nebulae such as the Orion Nebula, also called M42, are so hot that the gas clouds can be photographed with spectacular colour, however most images of nebulae have colour added into them, don’t expect to see that through your telescope!

There are many different kinds of nebulae but some popular ones to look for with a telescope are the Horsehead and Rosette Nebulae.

The Orion Nebula is one of the brightest deep space objects and shines so brilliantly that it can be seen with the naked eye, lying south of Orions Belt, that bright area you see, is M42.

There are so many wonderful deep space objects to view in the sky, and with no stand out planetary events this week, its the perfect time to start finding them.

The time to see the International Space Station tonight is at 6pm in the SSW. The flyover will last between 2-3 minutes and can be seen fairly high in the evening sky.