By Dave Fuller on 12/29/2013 4:32 PM
Messier 35 in wide field eyepiece Have you ever looked closely at granular sugar? Not the fine powdered kind, but the type one might stir into iced tea or use to bake a cake. Though the grains may appear remarkably similar in size, when viewed more closely it is possible to see some are smaller, and some are larger. And if a pinch of that sugar - enough to barely sweeten a glass of unsweetened iced tea - were slowly rubbed through fingers to land on a black piece of velvety cloth, what would that look like?

Probably a lot like Messier 35.

This cluster is large - nearly as large as the Pleiades, though not quite as bright. And though the nearby cluster M37 in Auriga often gets the "Salt and Pepper Cluster" designation, I think Messier 35 deserves the "Table Sugar Cluster" designation - but that's just me, perhaps. 

...
By Dave Fuller on 12/29/2013 4:06 PM
Castor double star split graphicI'm a bit partial to Gemini. I don't believe in astrology at all, but my "sign" is Gemini, so I've known about the twins for a very long time, though less-so about the stars and astronomy of this region until much more recently in life. What fascinates me is how un-twin-like these two stars are: Pollux is this orange-looking, K-class star in the later phases of of it's life, orbited by a planet some 2.3 times the size of Jupiter. Castor, by contrast, is a six-star system composed of four A-class stars. The ones we see visually naked-eye on the sky is really 2 pairs of 2 spectroscopic binaries. We can split the "A" and "B" pairs with sufficient magnification, but not all four stars because Aa and Ab are too close together, as are Ba and Bb.

So how to observe these? Well, I like to start...

The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.