Hey, Let's Look at Some Insanely Cool Pictures of Space!
Every single one of these astonishing new images from the Hubble can be seen through a backyard telescope.
There’s a pretty big universe out there, and if you live in a place with clear enough skies, it’s amazing what you can see just by pointing a backyard telescope, a pair of binoculars, or even just your own two peepers upward. Beginner star studiers can get a decent telescope for under $100, but if you want to satisfy your appetite for jaw-dropping space sights right away, NASA has just released 30 newly processed images from the Hubble telescope that give you an up-close look at the awe-inspiring “celestial gems” you can find if you take the time to look out for them.
Each of these stunning images shows something from what’s called the “Caldwell catalogue,” a collection of 109 galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae compiled by British astronomer Sir Patrick Caldwell-Moore that are bright enough for amateur astronomers to find. Caldwell’s catalogue is split between the northern and southern hemisphere, so you can find some of these incredible celestial objects in the night sky no matter where you are in the world. Here’s a selection of some of the amazing new images released by NASA (all the captions are from NASA’s site).
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“Visible to the naked eye from a dark location, Caldwell 14 is popularly known as the Double Cluster in Perseus.”
“Caldwell 17, also known as NGC 147, is a dwarf galaxy located roughly 2.5 million light-years from Earth. It is a member of the Local Group of galaxies, which is dominated by our Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy.”
“Located in Cassiopeia, not far from Caldwell 17, Caldwell 18 is a dwarf galaxy and a satellite of the Andromeda galaxy.”
“Caldwell 29, also known as NGC 5005, is a spiral galaxy that likely harbors a supermassive black hole at its heart.”
“This beautiful Hubble image captures the core and some of the spiral arms of the galaxy Caldwell 36. Also known as NGC 4559, this spiral galaxy is located roughly 30 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Coma Berenices.”
“Galaxies consist of a number of different structures, and the particulars of these structures drive the evolution of a given galaxy. One such structure in spiral galaxies like Caldwell 40 is the galactic bulge. This structure is a densely packed region of stars that encompasses the heart of a spiral galaxy.”
“Caldwell 45 is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation Boötes, and it is notable for the ring structure around its nucleus. These nuclear rings are characterized by “hot spots” of starburst activity.”
“Caldwell 51 is an irregular dwarf galaxy located in the constellation Cetus.”
“Located in the constellation Virgo, Caldwell 52 is the first Caldwell object (numerically) that resides in the southern celestial hemisphere (south of the celestial equator).”
“Lacking spiral arms but boasting a galactic bulge and prominent disk, lenticular galaxies like Caldwell 53 are intermediates between the more familiar spiral and elliptical galaxies. This galaxy, like most of its kind, hosts an elderly stellar population and has used up nearly all of its star-forming material.”
“This serene view captures a portion of the planetary nebula NGC 246, also known as Caldwell 56. Planetary nebulae are named such because when they were first observed through early telescopes, they resembled planets.”
“Caldwell 58 is an open cluster — a group of stars loosely bound together by gravity. It is located in the constellation Canis Major, roughly 3,700 light-years from Earth. The cluster can be spotted with a pair of binoculars in dark, moonless skies.”
“Caldwell 66 was discovered by William Herschel in 1784 and is one of the oldest, most remote globular clusters in our galaxy. Located roughly 100,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra, this collection of stars appears very faint in the sky. A small telescope is needed to spot the distant cluster.”
“Hubble captured this image of the hazy reflection nebula Caldwell 68 using its Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. Reflection nebulae are star-forming clouds of gas and dust that glow with the energy emitted from a hot, nearby star.”
“Caldwell 71 is an open star cluster. Open clusters are loosely bound collections of stars.”
“Caldwell 72 is a galaxy located 6.5 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Sculptor.”
“Caldwell 73 was discovered by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop in 1826. It is located roughly 40,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Columba. This dense globular cluster can be spotted through a pair of binoculars, appearing as a fuzzy patch of light.”
“This image captures the shining stars in a portion of the open cluster Caldwell 76, located in the constellation Scorpius, roughly 5,600 light-years from Earth.”
“The globular star cluster Caldwell 78 was first observed in the year 1826. Caldwell 78 is best observed from equatorial latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere during the summer and from the Southern Hemisphere during the winter.”
“This open star cluster, Caldwell 82 is host to about 30 stars. It includes two O-type stars, the most massive and luminous stars known. O-type stars are very rare and very hot, exceeding 30,000 Kelvin.”
“Caldwell 81 is a loose globular star cluster located roughly 20,000 light-years from Earth.”
“Caldwell 83 is a barred spiral galaxy (like our Milky Way) that appears edge-on. This composite image of the galaxy’s center combines observations taken in visible and infrared light with Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.”
“This image features the nearly spherical globular star cluster Caldwell 84. Astronomers have hypothesized that this globular cluster is a member of the “Gaia Sausage” — the remnants of a dwarf galaxy that is thought to have collided with the Milky Way between 8 million and 10 million years ago.”
“Discovered in 1826 by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop, Caldwell 87 is located roughly 50,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Horologium.”
“This shining collection of stars captured in infrared light by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 is part of Caldwell 89. This open cluster consists of approximately 40 stars, the brightest of which (near the center here) is the variable star S Normae.”
“This image captures some of the shimmering stars in the outskirts of the open cluster Caldwell 96. Part of what makes Caldwell 96 such an appealing target for observers is its brightness, but it is also notable for hosting at least three double stars that can be visually separated with a small telescope.”
“This stunning image captures a small region on the edge of the inky Coalsack Nebula, or Caldwell 99. Caldwell 99 is a dark nebula — a dense cloud of interstellar dust that completely blocks out visible wavelengths of light from objects behind it.”
“Caldwell 107 was first observed in 1826 by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop, who lived in Australia for many years. Astronomer John Herschel, who observed the cluster in the 1830s, described the cluster as being large, faint, round, and only a little brighter in the middle. The cluster is easiest to spot during the winter from the Southern Hemisphere.”
“Caldwell 108 is located 19,000 light-years away in the constellation Musca. It was discovered in 1826 by the Scottish astronomer James Dunlop from his observation post in Australia. The globular cluster can be seen year-round from most of the Southern Hemisphere, but is highest in the late evening during autumn.”