I managed to get out last evening for a bit of stargazing with the 8" Newtonian. The first thing I did was hunt up the pair of interacting galaxies M81 and M82 (visible together at the same time). Not quite as vivid as I remember (probably my imagination embellished it), but still quite distict with two oval shapes that were unmistakable spiral galaxies. I also got a glimpse of the Pleiades (M45) open cluster, with a hint of nebulosity visible around a couple of the brightest stars therein.
The Orion Nebula (M42) was spectacular. I’ve seen it many times, but in recent years- and never moreso than last night- I’m noticinge beautiful structure and detail in the wisps of gas and the darker parts that obscure some of the illuminated area. I think God is allowing me to see more (of it and other objects) now that I’m in a frame of mind to appreciate it and its implications in terms of Who made it. I did a little searching for the nearby Horsehead Nebula (near the leftmost star on Orion’s belt; M42 is the sword), but while I could make out a bit of other related nebulosity near the star, I’ve never been able to make out the Horsehead Nebula, and last night was no exception.
I saw an unidentified fuzzy patch well up to the east, and found another star cluster. After checking my Peterson field guide, I realized that I’d discovered it last year; it’s the Beehive Cluster, also known as Praesepe (M44).
And since it was up, I went looking for (after looking up its specific location) the Crab Nebula (M1). In the time that Jesus walked the Earth, it didn’t exist (or at least wasn’t visible from Earth). It was formed from a supernova that was seen in July of 1054. So effectively, we’re seeing a slightly-less-than-thousand-year-old Nebula. It didn’t appear very bright, but it was unmistakably there.
I find it interesting that I see all these dazzling pictures of amazing astronomical objects, and I can look them up on a chart, point the telescope in the right place, and they’re there!
I see the work of Your hands;
Galaxies spinning a heavenly dance.
Oh God, all that You are
Is so overwhelming…