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Catch sight of a celestial owl flying overhead in the spring sky

18 Apr 2019, 14:27 UTC
Catch sight of a celestial owl flying overhead in the spring sky
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The readily identifiable constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, glides overhead as night falls in the spring as seen from the British Isles. For scale, the seven-star asterism forming the Plough or Big Dipper is about the span of an outstretched hand at arm’s length wide. Ursa Major and adjoining constellation Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs) are littered with Messier deep-sky objects. Galaxy M108 and the Owl Nebula (M97) lie 1½° and 2¼°, respectively, southeast of magnitude +2.3 star Merak, the southernmost of the two pointer stars (the other being Dubhe) to the Pole Star. Field stars are shown to magnitude +6.5. AN graphic by Ade Ashford.If you are fortunate to observe from a rural area or have woodland nearby, one of the joys of setting up your ‘scope and waiting for darkness to fall on spring nights is the sound of owl calls. Listen for the sharp ‘kiew-kiew’ or brief, repetitive ‘woop’ of the little owl, the screech of the barn owl, or the ‘ke-wick’ and wavering ‘hoo-hoo’ of the tawny owl.
The Owl Nebula (M97, or NGC 3587) is a tenth-magnitude planetary nebula in Ursa Major. M97 is visible as a dim 3.3-arcminute diameter glow in large ...

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