Sunday, October 26, 2008

"A Rose By Any Other Name..."

Although it does not look all that much like a rose, the Trifid nebula (M20) certainly has rose-like features. Discovered by Charles Messier in 1764, it is located in the constellation of Saggitarius. Although there is some variances in the estimated distance to this nebula, the consensus seems to focus on 5,200 light years from Earth. It can be seen with the use of a good pair of binoculars, but when accessed through a more powerful telescope it will bloom into view like the image here. By-the-way 5200 light years distance equals 30,566,491,688,538,932 Miles. There is a handy conversion calculator you may use, just click here

Now for those of you who have not met him, Charles Messier is a most important contributor to the science of astronomy. Born in France in 1730, Messier took an early interest in astronomy and at 21 went to work with an astronomer in Paris. By 1753 Messier was beginning to make and document his own observations using the observatory where he worked. Although he is noted for discovering and recording the "M" series of nebula, galaxies and star clusters, Messier's chief interest was in discovering and reporting comets. To see a listing of all of Messier's discoveries, visit this link. To read a full biography of Charles Messier, visit this link.

Lastly, if you have a telescope or access to one here are the coordinates for Messier's Trifid nebula: RA: 18h02m22s DEC: -23:02:05. Please note these coordinates are based on observations from the telescopes in the Canary Islands. To visit and find out how you can have access to their powerful observatories go here.

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