Observatory Corner 10/10/2014

The leaves are falling, the air is getting colder and the sky is getting darker earlier and earlier. Calvin’s observatory is now open as early as 7:50 p.m., so feel free to come by the observatory early so you can see even more of what the sky has to offer!

Those hoping to catch a glimpse of Mars will need to come as early as possible as it now only stays visible until 8:30 p.m. By Oct. 30, it will no longer be visible during observing hours.  However, the Pleiades (the Seven Sisters) Open Star Cluster can now be seen as early as 9:30 p.m. It is also the perfect time of year to view the M57, or Ring Nebula. The constellation Cygnus is currently situated almost directly overhead, which makes for great viewing as well. Solar viewing sessions are still being finalized, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

The featured Calvin astronomy picture of the week is of M1, the Crab Nebula, taken by Calvin alumnus Chris Beaumont. In 1054 AD, the Anasazi native Americans noticed a new star in the constellation of Taurus, which was so bright that they wrote about it in their cave paintings.  What they saw was the supernova of a star, when an old star at the end of its life explodes.  The nebula is the remains of the explosion the Anasazi saw. You can read more about the Crab Nebula at http://www.calvin.edu/academic/phys/observatory/images/crab/CrabNebula.html.