The Sky in March


(Nortons Map 7)
Double Stars Object Magnitude Seperation Description
Zeta 5.2 and 6.1 6" A lovely yellow pair. The brighter component is a close binary with a period of 59.6 years. At it's widest of 1.2" in 2010. Was 0.8" in 2000, currently at 1.0" (2005) requiring 6 ins aperture and excellent seeing to resolve. May just elongate in 5 ins scope.
Iota 4.4 and 6.5 30" Striking Orange and blue stars. Springs 'Albireo'
Phi 2 6.3 and 6.3 5" Fine white pair - identical twins.
Delta 3.9 and 11.9 40"  
57 (Iota 2) 6.0 and 6.5 1.4" Included for those that want to 'test' their optics.


Deepsky Objects

Object - M44 (NGC 2632)


This cluster is known as the Beehive or Praesape and is easily seen naked eye. It is at the center of the constellation Cancer and is about 13 light years across and around 500 light years away.
Type Magnitude Coordinates Constellation Image (and link to Seds)
Open Cluster 3.7 R.A. 08h 40.1min Dec +19° 59' Cancer

Object - M67 (NGC 2682)


One of the oldest open cluster being estimated at 3.2 billion years. Was first discovered by Johann Gottfried Koehler in 1779.
Open Cluster 6.1 R.A. 08h 50.4min Dec +11° 49' Cancer



(Norton Map 7 & 9)
Double Stars Object Magnitude Seperation Description
Alpha (Regulus) 1.4 and 7.7 180" (3') visible in small telescopes.
Gamma (Algieba) 2.2 and 3.5 4.3" Magnificent golden pair
Tau 5.0 and 8.0 90" Orange giant with binocular companion
54 4.5 and 6.3 6" A little known gem! Bluish white and gray/greenish
49 5.8 and 8.5 2.4" A challenge which resembles a dim delta cygni
Iota 4.0 and 6.7 1.8" Another challenge with a cycle of 192 years. Will be 2" in 2010.


Deepsky Objects

Object - M65 (NGC 3623)


Neighbours are M66 and NGC 3628. At a distance of about 35 million light years
Type Magnitude Coordinates Constellation Image (and link to Seds)
Sa Spiral Galaxy 9.3 R.A. 11h 18.9min Dec +13° 05' Leo

Object - M66 (NGC 3627)


Neighbours are M66 and NGC 3638.
Sb Spiral Galaxy 8.8 R.A. 11h 20.2min Dec +12° 59' Leo

Object - NGC 3628


The faintest of the Leo Triplet. This galaxy is seen edge on and because of its brightest was overlooked by Messier.
Sb Spiral Galaxy 9.6 R.A. 11h 20.1min Dec +13° 35' Leo

Object - M95 (NGC 3351)

SBb Spiral Galaxy 9.7

R.A. 10h 44.0min Dec +11° 42'


Object - M96 (NGC 3368)


Is the brightest member of the Leo 1 group which also includes M95 and M105 with a number of fainter galaxies.
Sa Spiral Galaxy 9.2 R.A. 10h 46.8min Dec +11° 49' Leo

Object - M105 (NGC 3370)


Is at a distance of 38 million light years. Is often studied as a typical representation of a elliptical galaxy.
E1 Ecliptical Galaxy 9.3 R.A. 10h 47.8min Dec +12° 35' Leo

Object - NGC 2903

Sb Spiral Galaxy 8.9 R.A. 9h 32.2min Dec +21° 30' Leo


Ursa Major

(Nortons Map 1 & 9)
Double Stars Object Magnitude Seperation Description
Zeta (Mizar) 2.1 and 4.2 14"

Forms naked eye double with 4 th mag alcor @ 12' distance.

All blue-white. All 3 spectroscopic binaries! Brilliant sight in any scope. First of many!

Xi 4.3 and 4.8 1.8" Binary - 60 year period. First binary to have it's orbit computed. Has completed 3 orbits since discovery! Cream coloured.
Sigma 2 4.8 and 8.2 4" 1100yr binary! Mag 9.3 at 205"
23 3.8 and 9.0 23" Contrast pair - delicate for a small scope, white and lilac?
57 5.3 and 8.2 5.4" Faint but neat pair.
78 5.0 and 7.4 1.4" A challenge! 115 yr binary, just starting to close. WNW of Epsilon (Alioth).


Deepsky Objects

Object - M81 (NGC 3031)


This is a very bright and easily found galaxies in small telescopes. Its other name is Bode's Galaxy as this was one of th first that Johann Elert Bode found in 1774.
Type Magnitude Coordinates Constellation Image (and link to Seds)
Sb Spiral Galaxy 6.9 R.A. 09h 55.6 min Dec +69° 04' Ursa Major

Object - M82 (NGC 3034)


At a distance of 12 million light years. This is a very irregular galaxy due to its encounter with its neighbour m81 some 100 million years ago. It is also the source of a very strong radio emission and Hubble has now discovered over 100 freshly formed globulars.
Irregular Galaxy 8.4 R.A. 09h 55.8 min Dec +69° 41' Ursa Major

Object - M97 (NGC 3587)


This is known as the Owl Nebula and is one of the dimmest Messier objects.
Planetary Nebula 11.2 R.A. 11h 14.8 min Dec +55° 01' Ursa Major

Object - M101 (NGC 5457)


Is the brightest of a group of 9 and is known as the Pinwheel galaxy. With its low surface brightness the central regions are visable in small telescopes but its outer arms are dim and a large telescope is needed to show them.
Sc Spiral Galaxy 7.7 R.A. 14h 03.2 min Dec +54° 21' Ursa Major

Object - M108 (NGC 3556)


At a distance of 45 million years. Easily seen in amateur telescopes and with a low power eyepiece its companion M97 will be in the same field of view.
Sc Spiral Galaxy 10.1 R.A. 11h 11.5 min Dec +55° 40' Ursa Major

Object - M109 (NGC 3992)

SBc Spiral Galaxy 9.8 R.A. 11h 57.6 min Dec +53° 23' Ursa Major

Object - M40

Twin Star System 8.4 R.A. 12h 22.4 min Dec +58° 05' Ursa Major

Object - NGC 3077


A member of the M81 group and is at the same angle as M81 and M82. Is classed as a peculiar galaxy probably due to an encounter with another larger member of the group. Its showing whispy edges and scattered dust clouds. In amateur telescopes shows as an ecliptical fuzz.
Irregular Galaxy 9.8 R.A. 10h 03.3min Dec +68° 44' Ursa Major



(Nortons Map 8, 10 and 12)
Double Stars Object Magnitude Seperation Description
Epsilon 3.4 and 6.8 2.7" Difficult contrasting yellow and blue stars, 890 yr binary. Primary 15yr binary
27 5.0 and 7.0 230" (4') Binocular double SW of alpha (Alphard) mag 9 @ 9" - triple.
N 5.8 and 5.9 9" Yellowish-white twins.
54 5.1 and 7.1 9" Easy double with subtle tints - yellow and purplish.


Deepsky Objects

Object - M83 (NGC 5236)


Was the first galaxy to be found out of our local group and the 3rd next to the Andromeda galaxy and companion. Is known as the Southern Pinwheel and was discovered in 1792.
Type Magnitude Coordinates Constellation Image (and link to Seds
SABc Sprial Galaxy 7.6 R.A. 13h 37.0 min Dec -29° 52' Hydra

Object - M68 (NGC 4590)

Globular Cluster 7.8 R.A. 12h 39.5 min Dec -26° 45' Hydra

Object - M48 (NGC 2548)


This object was actually lost by Messier and rediscovered by a number of astronomers in the years to come. This object should be visable naked eye in good conditions and a small telescope or binoculars will show around 50 or more stars.
Open Cluster 5.5 R.A. 8h 13.8 min Dec -05° 48' Hydra

Object - NGC 3242


Known as the Ghost of Jupiter. The inner nebula is known as the Eye by Burnham and the outer as its about the same apparent diameter as Jupiter which gives rise to its name.
Planetary Nebula 7.7 R.A. 10h 24.8min Dec -18° 38' Hydra


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Image: M45 in LRGB

by Shaun Reynolds