Microscopium - Musca - Norma - Octans

MENSA

A small, totally unremarkable constellation containing part of the greater Cloud of Magellan. No star brighter than magnitude 5 makes it hard to find anything!

Groups of stars

1. β (5.3). Fine sweeping around this star, which lies between us and the Magellanic Cloud - though of course immeasurably nearer.

2. ξ (5.8). Note the regular curve sweeping away from this star. A smaller line emanating from delta converges with it.

Close doubles

P.143. A faint but wide pair of 325" distance. You will need a good atlas and large glasses to find the stars of 8.5 and 8.9, and if you do find it, will notice a third star making a tiny isosceles triangle.

P.144. Far easier and more impressive, this is a pair of seventh-magnitude yellow stars separated by 247 seconds of arc.

Variable Stars

TZ (6.2-6.9) A bright eclipsing variable with a period of 8.5 days. Both xi Mensae (5.9) and a star of 6.7m, about 1 South can be used to estimate TZ.

MICROSCOPIUM

A fine group for the binocular owner which, though visible from the USA, needs altitude to enable its faint stars to be seen properly.

Groups of stars

θ . An area of good sweeping, especially to the North.

Wide doubles

ζ . This 5.4m star has a slightly fainter companion closely North.

Close doubles

ι . Quite an easy object of magnitudes 5.1 and 7.7, 170" apart.

Δ236. This is the central star in a line of three between η(5.6) and iota. A good object for binoculars, with a separation of 58". Mags are 6.5 and 6.9.

Variable stars

T (6.3-8.0) A chart is supplied for this semi-regular variable, which lies in the Northern reaches of this little constellation.

MUSCA

A small but very interesting group near a rich region of the Milky Way.

Groups of stars

1. ε . Beautiful areas around this red star, which is slightly variable. Note especially a little group about a degree to the South.

2. 12h 12m, -74. A long line of 7m stars.

3. 13h 33m, -66. Tiny Y-shaped collection of seventh-magnitude stars, closely North of which is a brighter star with a coarse trail emanating from it.

Wide doubles

γ . A degree S. is a fine wide triple of 6.0, 7.0 and 7.0. Very close by is the Globular Cluster NGC 4372, which you may spot as a rather faint smudge of light. An interesting field.

ζ2. A star with two distant companions.

δ . This 3.6m star has a bright neighbour to the North.

Close doubles

η . Owners of average glasses might like to try this pair of 5th and 8th magnitude stars, separated by 60 arc-seconds.

P.145. A lovely seventh-magnitude pair, both stars blue and 164" apart.

P.146. Not far away, this is a slightly closer object of magnitudes 6.4 and 8.4. Large glasses may show a third star of 8.6m.

Variable stars

BO (6.0-6.7) A good star for small bins, which will show its red colour very well, though its amplitude is rather small. A chart is supplied in the appendices.

DZ (8.3-8.9) A small-amplitude Algol type eclipser, this is the Easternmost member of a little triangle closely NE of a magnitude 5 star. The other members of the triangle are of 8.0 and 8.8 magnitude, so make good comparisons.

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 4372. A large, rather dim globular cluster near gamma.

NGC 4833. This is a smaller and brighter object of the same type. Use the chart here to find them.

NORMA

A small, but extremely rich, constellation in the Milky Way; few really bright stars - but hordes of faint ones.

Groups of stars

1. κ (5.1). Brilliant region of many small groups and clusters. Sweep South to the slightly brighter ι1

2. 15h 44m, -52. A field of fine groupings and lines of stars.

Close doubles

ε . A difficult test for good, large binoculars, the mags are 4.8 and 7.5 and separation only 25".

P.28. Much easier at 114" and magnitudes of 6.7 and 7.9.

P.61. Though rather faint, these 8m stars are quite easy at 106".

P.64. A lovely equal pair of magnitude 7, 216" apart.

Variable stars

R (5-12) Another star like R centauri, and though the minima of this star will be out of reach with normal bins, you can easily cover the rest of its changes in light. To find it, locate the 5m star η . Our star is just 5 away, and is the last in a regular bright line ending just N of eta. The other members are of 6.1, 6.0 and 6.5m. The former of these has a 7.0m star closely North, while R itself makes a tiny triangle with two stars to the S, of 7.7 and 8.5. Predictions for this star's maxima are included.

S (7.0-8.0) A Cepheid variable with a 10-day period, this lies in the centre of the beautiful open cluster NGC 6087. The area is actually too crowded to give a meaningful description!

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 6067. A fine open cluster visible with small binoculars, in a little triangle of bright stars.

NGC 6087. Many members of this magnificent cluster can be seen with binoculars. Note the contrast in the richness of the field to the South as opposed to the N.

NGC 6167. A gleaming open cluster, close to an unequal double.

H.10. A large, brilliant group of stars not far from NGC 6067, with many doubles and triples seen in average glasses.

OCTANS

An unremarkable group whose sole claim to fame is that it contains the South Celestial Pole. The "official" S.Pole star, sigma Octantis, is too faint to be employed for any useful purpose.

Groups of stars

1. ω (5.9) and rho (5.7) are members of a pretty arc of stars.

2. 08h 00m, -84. Fine V, extending over a sizeable area.

3. γ1 (5.1) forms a singular group with the slightly fainter γ2 and 3.

4. 18h 20m, -80. Long Y of brightish stars.

5. ν (3.7). A fine area between this, Octans' brightest star, and nu Indi.

Wide doubles

π1 and 2. These stars, both of 5.6m, are rather too wide for most binoculars, but small field glasses should bring out their charm.

Close doubles

P.96. An obscure 8th-magnitude pair 202 seconds of arc apart.