Sculptor - Telescopium - Triangulum Australe - Tucana - Vela - Volans

RETICULUM

A compact, pretty little group containing some fine objects.

Groups of stars

1. 03h 30m, -58. Large group of assorted brightnesses.

2. κ (4.8). Note a curious-looking, rather square collection of faint stars to the North.

3. Note a symmetrical semi-circle that takes in both η(5.2) and θ (6.2).

4. β (3.8). Guide star to a large triangle to the South. The northern member of this is one of a small Y, and is near two wide pairs.

Wide doubles

ζ2. This forms a striking double with ζ1, only slightly fainter at 5.5m.

Close doubles

h3670. A pretty, if rather faint pair of mags. 6 and 8, 32" apart. Closely S. is the Mira star R Reticuli, which can attain magnitude 7 at times.

P.154. Quite a difficult pair, due to the faint (9th-mag) companion. Distance is 58 seconds of arc.

P.155. Easier and more equal in brightness, these 8m stars are separated by 162 seconds.

SCULPTOR

A group usually maligned as containing little of interest, though binoculars disclose some notable objects. It contains the South Galactic Pole, though most of the many galaxies visible here are not within binocular range. This is one of those groups with a curtailed name, for it was originally apparatus Sculptoris. The sculptor since appears to have lost his apparatus!(And that's one of the very few bits of double entendre you're getting)

Groups of stars

1. 23h 18m, -29. Small, rather square group, with a bright stream going off to the North.

2. ζ (5.0) lies in a beautiful field, including a nearby small triple.

3. Issuing from the 5.7m τ is a fine, almost straight, line that runs towards α (4.4). Tau itself is in a fine bright group of stars.

4. 01h 36m, -37. Fine large trapezium of 5.5, 5.6, 5.9 and 6.1. This group actually spills over into neighbouring Fornax.

Wide doubles

μ . This 5m star has a 6th-mag companion.

GC 33175. A closer pair, with another fainter star to the North.

S. Just South of this variable is a fine wide pair of 6.7 and 7.4, both orange in colour.

Close doubles

P.198. A rather faint pair of 7.9 and 8.5, but wide at 141".

P.199. Mags of 6.5 and 8.7 make this a more difficult object. Distance 105".

P.200. This and the next star are both hard objects because of the faint secondaries. Distance here is 147".

P.201. Slightly easier, this forms an isosceles with P.200 and the 4th-magnitude δ .

P.203. A rather faint triple star. The 8.1m primary has two attendants, both of 8.4m, at 166 and 227 seconds of arc distance.

Variable Stars

R (5.8-7.7) A chart is supplied for this semi-regular variable.

Y (7.5-9.0) Another red star, easy to find from Fomalhaut. It is one of a regularly-spaced horizontal line whose western member is of 6.6m. The others, to the East of Y, are 8.4 and 7.8.

SW (7.3-9.3) This is a red supergiant with a good magnitude range but rather lacking in good comparisons. It lies in line with two bright stars (5.7 and 5.2) and just N. of the brighter of these are two others of 7.0 and 7.8. Do not confuse SW with a nearby 7.2m star to the North-west.

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 253. A large galaxy, visible in good glasses as an elongated blur.

NGC 288. A bright globular cluster, not far from the previous nebula. You can use the map here to find them.

NGC 55. A slightly fainter galaxy than 253. It can be found by the regular line of three 6m stars nearby.

TELESCOPIUM

A rather appropriate name for a constellation, I have always thought! There used to be a Telescope in the Northern sky for a time, called Telescopium Herschelii which was near the traditional group of Gemini and was meant to commemorate the discovery of Uranus. The southern version likewise lies near the Milky Way and contains several interesting objects.

Groups of stars

1. α (3.8) makes a large, right-angled group with ε and ζ . Note a faint, wide triple star between these two.

2. Bright quadrilateral including κ , λ and ρ . The area around κ is particularly well-populated.

3. η (5.2) is another star in a superb field, and one of a large group rather reminiscent of the "steep-roofed house" shape of the constellation of Cepheus.

Wide doubles

δ 1,2. A fine, fifth-magnitude wide pair.

GC 25861. A 5.5m red star with a 6.3m white companion.

Close doubles

Δ 227. Bright but close, the magnitudes are 6.1 and 6.7, and the distance just 27".

h5114. Wider but less equal; 5.6 and 8.3, distance 71 seconds of arc.

Variable stars

RX (7.5-9.0) A red star, found to the South of a bright, wide double not far from another similar pair ( β Sagittarii). The variable has a northerly companion of 8.5, with another of 8.0 slightly farther away. Half a degree S. of RX are two other comparisons of 7.7 and 8.7.

BL (7.2-9.3) A faint eclipsing star, but with a good range. A bright star lies to the N., North again of which are two others of 6.5 and 7.4m. A fainter comparison of 8.3 makes a right-angle with BL and the nearby rho Tel.

HO (7.9-8.6) A star of similar type, but much smaller amplitude. It is one of a little quadrilateral whose other stars are of 7.5, 8.0 and 7.9m.

TRIANGULUM AUSTRALE

A brighter, more symmetrical and far richer group than its Northern counterpart.

Groups of stars

1. β (3.0) lies in a magnificent area, especially to the N.

2. α (1.9). In a flash of imagination, aviators christened this star Atria (Alpha TRIanguli Australis - get it?). Note two beautiful sprays; the brighter extends to δ (4.0) and the smaller, though containing more stars, sweeps out in the same direction. A similar arc runs through ζ (4.9).

Close doubles

h4809. A difficult pair, due to the magnitude 9 companion, 48" of arc away.

Variable stars

S (6.5-7.7) A Cepheid variable with a period of 6.3 days. The stars described under the following variable can be used, though take care not to confuse S with a slightly fainter neighbour of 8.2m.

U (7.6-8.4) A star of the same type, that lies between δ and a sixth-magnitude star. It lies in a beautiful little wandering line of five stars which run, in order from delta, 6.5, 7.2, variable, 7.8 and 8.5.

X (5.6-6.6) The smallest glasses can observe this deep red variable, for which I have supplied a chart.

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 6025. A beautiful binocular object in a beautiful field, with many faint stars and a misty glow being visible. Find it using the chart here.

TUCANA

A good constellation for the owner of binoculars, containing some fine doubles as well as two famous globular clusters.

Groups of stars

1. γ (4.1) is one of a small parallellogram, two of whose stars are unequal wide doubles.

Wide doubles

η . Note a fine orange pair of 5.7 and 6.9 about two degrees away.

β 1,2. (Both 4.5, double). These form an imposing group with β3 (5.2).

κ . Itself a telescopic pair, this has a more distant neighbour of 7.6m.

λ1. Again a double, this has a distant binocular associate of 6.3.

Close doubles

β . A close but beautiful equal pair (see above) 28" apart.

λ1. Very difficult again, at only 22". Magnitudes are 5 and 7.

P.76. An excellent binocular double formed by two orange stars of magnitudes 6 and 7, and 250 seconds apart.

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 104. This is generally held to be the brightest and finest globular in the sky, though there is a bit of friendly rivalry from Omega Centauri for the honour. Also called 47 Tucanae, this is easy with the naked eye, and a brilliant, blazing object in binoculars.

NGC 362. Another bright globular, though rather in awe of its big brother above! The binocular shows this as a bright fuzzy spot, with the Small Magellanic Cloud as a brilliant backdrop.

VELA

A really awe-inspiring constellation from the binocular observer's point of view, this is full of wonderful fields of bright stars, a host of doubles, variables and clusters, as well as the brightest nova of the nineties.

Groups of stars

1. 08h 38m, -40. Brilliant group of sixth- and seventh-magnitude stars.

2. d(4.1). Near this wide double is a stupendous clustering of many stars from the 5th to 8th magnitudes.

3. λ (2.2). Marvellous field, especially to the South and East.

4. q(4.1) is one of a brilliant V.

5. m(4.6). One of a small arc that also includes u (5.3). It is near this star that the milky way is visibly broken to the eye. Of course, this is not an actual break, but is caused by large clouds of obscuring dark nebulae.

6. γ (1.8). The brightest star in Vela is one of the hottest and most luminous of the naked-eye stars and is in an incredible region, with arcs and streams of bright stars shooting out from it. To cap all this, it is also a wonderful double star!

7. o(3.7) is in another region of overwhelming splendour.

8. a(4.1). One of a brilliant cross of hot-looking stars. Indeed, the Northern observer gets the impression that this whole region of the sky is lit by stars more powerful, more numerous, hotter, and generally more exotic than his own, and constantly looks forward to the day when he can see them for himself (preferably from some silvery-sanded and palm-fringed shore!)

9. J(5.2). Beautiful field to the North.

Wide doubles

o. A brilliant wide triple of 3.7, 5.4 and 5.7, and chief star of the open cluster IC 2391.

Close doubles

γ . Large, good-quality bins, if possible with a good anti-reflective coating, will show this to be a beautiful pair of magnitudes 2.2 and 4.6, 41 seconds of arc apart.

t. Rather difficult; magnitudes 5 and 9, also 41" distant.

Y. This time, the magnitudes are the same as the previous star, but the distance is slightly greater at 50". Due to the way the early astronomers named the stars, we actually have two stars called Y velorum; one of course is a variable star - this is the other one.

m. An unequal pair of 4.6 and 7.3, 129" apart in a good field.

P.13. Another wide pair, this time of 6.2 and 8.0, separated by 138".

P.14. Not far away, this is an attractive double of 7.1 and 7.5 with a separation of 155".

P.25. 185 seconds divide these stars of 5.9 and 7.7m.

P.121. A fine, easy object of 7.1 and 7.5, both yellow and 137" of arc apart.

Variable stars

S (7.7-9.5) You will need large bins to see this Algol-type star fall by nearly 2 magnitudes every 5.9 days. Closely South lies an eighth-magnitude variable called U Velorum which does not concern us because its range is too small (only 0.3m). However, just West of it lies a little trapezium of 6.7, 8.3, 8.8 and 9.4, while closely West of S itself is another comparison of 8.0.

X (7.3-8.6) This is a deep red variable readily found near a 6.3m star, which is one of a small Y; the others are (S to N) 8.2, 7.7 and 8.0. Two 7.4m stars lie South of the variable.

SW (7.4-9.0) A Cepheid with the rather long period for these stars of 23 days, easily found in a beautiful region half a degree East of the 5th-magnitude n Velorum. The variable is the eastern member of a small line of three whose other stars are of 7.4 and 8.3m.

SY (7.4-8.7) A chart is given for this star as well as the next one.

WY (7.4-8.8) Another red variable, here made more interesting by the fact that it is not an ordinary red star, but a "symbiotic" binary subject to nova-like outbursts from time to time.

AI (6.4-7.1) A variable of the RR Lyrae type, with a period of only 2 hours! It is best found from a bright vertical line of three which lie between those two searing stars gamma Velorum and zeta Puppis. The northernmost of the three has a distant neighbour of 6.4m which points straight to AI. The variable itself has a close accomplice of 7.4m directly South of it.

CV (6.7-7.4) An eclipsing binary in a crowded field. A chart is supplied.

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 2547. A beautiful cluster with well over a dozen stars resolved in most glasses. A wonderful field.

IC 2391. A brilliant group centred on o.

IC 2395. Yet another fabulous collection of bright stars that abound in this constellation.

VOLANS

A neat constellation to the eye on a transparent night, but otherwise dull, and rather unfitting to close the chapter on after the previous group.

Groups of stars

1. 06h 54m,-70. Small scattered group of bright stars.

2. κ (4.4). A pretty line of seventh-magnitude stars lies to the North.

3. Regular, sinuous line stretching from the telescopic pair L3846 Carinae to η Volantis (5.4).

Close doubles

κ . This very attractive double of 5.4 and 5.7 is interesting, as the fainter member has an 8th-magnitude companion at 40" distance. The main stars themselves are 65" apart.

P.147. An unequal pair (6.8 and 8.6) separated by 102" of arc.