The Carina Nebula is about 7500 light years away in the direction of the Carina constellation. Carina was originally part of a very large constellation Argo Nevis but Nicolas de Lacaille divided it into three new constellations in 1763, see Carina (the keel), Puppis (the poop deck) and Vela (the ship’s sails). It is also known as NGC 3372 and was discovered in 1751 by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, while observing from the Cape of Good Hope. It is a colossal emission nebula about 300 light years wide that contains extensive star forming regions. A very interesting object in the Carina Nebula is the Homonculus Nebula which is a planetary nebula that is being ejected by a luminous blue variable star, Eta Carinae (shorthand ? Carinae or ? Car). This star is one of the most massive stars known and has reached the theoretical upper limit for the mass of a star and is therefore unstable. The instability results in periodic outbursts during which it brightens and them fades again. During one such outburst between the 11th and the 14th of March 1843 it became the second brightest star in the sky but then faded away. Around 1940 it began to brighten again, eventually peaking in 2014 but not achieving nearly the levels of brightness seen in 1843.
Leslie Rose is one of the regulars who attend the Southern Star Party and the photograph featured here, was taken by Leslie. The first SSP he attended was in March 2011 when Leslie had neither telescope nor camera!
Gallery: Comet Lemmon . . . . . . . . . . . . . … . . . 02
A selection of photographs of the lovely Comet Lemmon that
graced the deep southern skies during January and February.
From the Archimedes Archives . . . . . . . . . . . . 03
Interesting bits and pieces to pique the astronomically curious.
Deep-sky Highlight: The Blue Planetary . . . . 06
A deep-sky gem hiding in Centaurus.
Dark Emu Rising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . 07
The spectacular dark nebula complex known to some as the Dark
Emu rises, drugstore in pursuit of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.
Astrophotography tutorial (Part 2) . . . . . . . . . 09
The second installment of Brett du Preez’s astrophotography
tutorial takes a personal detour.
Researchers Peter Pessev & Benoit Neichel of the Gemini Observatory, La Serena, Chile claimed they had the best New Year’s Celebrations possible when they obtained this incredibly detailed data from the observatory’s adaptive optics (AO) system. The photo shown here features an area on the outskirts of the well known Orion Nebula and show cases the instrument’s very significant technological advances over the previous generation of AO instruments.
The system combines the use of five laser guide stars with multiple deformable mirrors enabling it to go far beyond what has previously been possible using adaptive optics in astronomy, Benoit Neichel, currently leading the AO program for Gemini, says that years of dedicated work have gone into the project culminating in this magnificent image. This image, he claims, is only a glimpse of the system’s enormous scientific potential. The Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics System (GeMS) is installed on the Gemini South telescope in Chile. This is the most advanced adaptive optics system available and will enable astronomers to study the universe with an unprecedented level of clarity and detail by removing distortions due to the Earth’s atmosphere.