Cape Fear Astro Viewing Sessions: What Did I See?

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If you've attended a viewing session recently, Cape Fear Astro members may have shown you some "deep-sky" objects. They probably threw out a number and or a name, and maybe gave some vital statistics, but it's hard to remember that kind of thing while you're busy looking.

This page has information on the objects we commonly show at public sessions and links so you can learn more about the objects. It's organized by season, so most of the time you can just click on the season name in the index above. However, if you went to a session early in the season, you might want to look at the previous season's objects as well, since they were probably lingering in the sky, and we may have visited them before they set. Similarly, for late-season sessions, also check the following season's objects.


IDCon Type Name Distance (LY)Size (LY)   Info
M44 Can OC Beehive Cluster or "Praesepe" 525 40One of the closest star clusters. Visible to unaided eye as a fuzzy spot about 1/2 way between Pollux and Regulus.
M81 UMa EG Bode's Galaxy 12M 36,000  
M82 UMa EG Cigar 12M 36,000 M82 is being deformed by a close encounter with the more massive M81.
M97 UMa PN Owl 2600 size Shell of gas ejected from a star shines due to energy of star which created it.
M65 Leo EG Leo Triplet 35M size Part of a close triple with M66 and 3628.
M66 Leo EG Leo Triplet 35M size Part of a close triple with M65 and 3628.
3628 Leo EG Leo Triplet 35M size Part of a close triple with M65 and M66.
Zeta UMa UMa double star Mizar and Alcor, or "Horse and Rider" 78 (Mizar), 81 (Alcor)   "Crook" in the handle of the Big Dipper. Many people can split with unaided eye. Not a true double. Part of the Ursa Major group. This group is so large and widely spread its stars appear all over the sky, and may even include Sirius.
M51 UMa EG Whirlpool 31M size Interaction with companion 5195 has intensified star formation in the spiral structure
Alpha CVn CVn double star Cor Caroli 110   Beautiful double with very subtle color contrast.


IDCon Type Name Distance (LY)Size (LY)   Info
M13 Her GC Great Hercules Cluster 25,000 145 spectacularly beautiful cluster, contains between 400,000 and a million stars.
M92 Her GC   26,000 109 M13's neighbor.
Alpha Her Her Double Star Ras Algethi 400   Orange and green: primary is red giant.
Beta Sco Sco Double Star Graffias 530   Two white stars.
M4 Sco GC   7000 140 Closest globular cluster, contains least 10,000 stars.
M6 Sco OC Butterfly Cluster 1600 25 About 80 stars, including an orange supergiant.
M7 SCO OC Ptolemy's Cluster 800 20 About 80 stars
M8 Sgr DN & OC Lagoon Nebula 5,200 140x60 Cluster stars formed from mebula. Band of dust creates a dark "chanel".
M20 Sgr DN Trifid Nebula 5,200? uncertain Divided into 3 parts. Distance to this nebula hard to measure, may be as little as 2,200 or as much as 7,600.
M22 Sgr CG   10,400 200 Contains about70,000 stars.
M17 Sgr DN and OC Omega or Swan Nebula 5,000 15 Cluster stars formed from mebula.
M11 Scu OC Wild Duck Cluster 6,000 uncertain Contains about 2,900 stars. Red giant at center of cluster is older than other cluster members.


IDCon Type Name Distance (LY)Size (LY)   Info
Beta Cygni Cygnus Multiple Star Albireo 380   Beautiful color contrast.
Epsilon Lyrae Lyra Multiple Star Double-Double 200   4 stars in 2 pairs
M57 Lyra PN Ring Nebula 1300 1/2 Shell of gas ejected by star at end of it's life
Col 399 Vulpecula Asterism The Coathanger 200-1100   Good binocular object, stars at widely varying distances.
M27 Vulpecula PN The Dumbbell Nebula 1000 2 Shell of gas ejected by star at end of it's life
Gamma Delphini Delphinus Double Star   100   Very subtle color contrast.
M15 Peg GC Fried Egg Cluster 40,000 125 Contains about 300,000 stars. Source of X-rays
M2 Aqu GC 50,000 170 Contains about 300,000 stars.
Gamma Andromeda And Multiple star Almach 200 Primary pair has Yellow-blue color contrast. 2 other members not visible.
M31 And EG Great Andromeda Galaxy 2.9M 250,000 about twice as big as the Milky Way
M32 And EG satellite galaxy of M31 2.9M 8,000 Close eliptical companion contains about a million stars.
M110 And EG satellite galaxy of M31 2.9M 23,000 Close eliptical companion contains about a million stars.


IDCon Type Name Distance (LY)Size (LY)   Info
h/chi Perseus Per OC The Double Cluster 2 open clusters fit in same low-power field of view
M45 Tau OC Pleiades 410 10Contains about 250 stars
M1 Tau SR Crab Nebula 6300 6 Expanding at 600 miles/second. Contains a pulsar emitting radio bursts 30 times/second.
M36 Aur OC   4100 14 Contains about 60 stars.
M37 Aur OC   4600 25 Contains about 150 stars.
M38 Aur OC   4200 25 Contains about 100 stars.
M42 Ori DN Great Orion Nebula 1600 30 Contains mostly Hydrogen & Helium.
M79 Lep GC   40,000 118 Contains over 100,000 stars. May have "immigrated" from another galaxy.
M35 Gem OC   2200 30 About 300 stars. 2158 is in the same wide-field view . Good binocular object.
M41 CMa OC   2350 20 Contains about 100 stars. Good binocular object.
2362 CMA OC Tau Canis Major cluster 4600 8One of the youngest clusters known.

Table Legend

IDIdentification number in an astronomical catalog of objects. Usually from the Messier catalog (starts with M) or the New General Catalog (NGC, but the NGC is usually omitted).
ConGives the abreviation of the constellation in which the object is found.
TypeThe type of object:
  • DN: "Difuse" Nebula
  • EG: Galaxy
  • GC: Globular Cluster
  • OC: Open Cluster
  • PN: "Planetary" Nebula
  • SR: Supernova Remnant
  • NameThe common name of the object, if it has one
    DistanceDistance from Earth, in light-years. "M" means millon.
    SizeSize of the object, in light-years. If the object is not round, this is the measurement across the longest dimension.
    InfoOther, hopefully interesting, info about the object

    This page was last updated April 2nd, 2019