Omega Centauri

Globulars or Open, clusters of stars can be neat viewing.
btoman
Posts: 208
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 10:35 pm
Location: Baton Rouge

Omega Centauri

Post by btoman » March 11th, 2011, 2:55 pm

I'm going to try to get a look at this globular cluster at Hodges Gardens. I never remembered hearing about it, but in an email I got from an old professor of mine up North, he mentioned that I should be able to see it in this lower latitude. (It's really a Southern Sky object, but it gets just high enough for us low latitude North Americans in the Spring and early Summer.)

Everything I've read about it makes it sound pretty neat. It's the brightest and largest known globular cluster in our galaxy and at magnitude 3.7, is also the only globular that is visible to the naked eye. (In a dark sky.) Estimates put the number of stars it contains in the millions...possibly as many as 10 million! The only confusing thing I've read is that it can appear as large as the full moon. That in itself wouldn't be confusing. After all, it is a HUGE cluster. The fact that two old time astronomers (Ptolemy and Johann Bayer) had listed it as a STAR, is the confusing part. How could you look at something that seemed as big as the full moon and label it a star? Maybe they were just taking into account a small part of it. I tried to read a few different sites to see if it was a "Mars as big as the Full Moon" kind of phenomenon, but most sites say the same thing and don't specify a certain magnification or anything so I can only assume it means naked eye. (One of the sites was the European Southern Observatory site which has a great image.)

Anyway, it will be around 12 degrees above the horizon while we're at Hodges Gardens. Not very high, but even if it gets a little higher later in the Spring, I doubt I'll have much of a chance catching anything that close to the horizon near Baton Rouge skies. The field is large and open at HG, so hopefully I'll get a good window of opportunity.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4837
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Omega Centauri

Post by Christopher K. » March 19th, 2011, 7:30 pm

It is an awesome sight. I had the opportunity to see it during one of the two years I went to the Kisatchie Star Party. I remember it was just barely visible above the treeline.

In 2003 astronomers from Italy and Germany ascertained what few relatively young stars found in Omega Centauri were probably the remains of another cluster swallowed by the main cluster.

Story at...
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/3306266.html

Christopher K.
Posts: 4837
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Omega Centauri

Post by Christopher K. » April 29th, 2011, 6:26 pm

Ben successfully located Omega Centauri from HRPO grounds during BRAS viewing last night. The "breakthrough" came on the sidewalk along the southwestern side of the main building, looking past the small addition toward a gap in the trees in the southeastern border of the property. Of course, the sight in no sense is a rival of the view from HGSP, but it'll do!

Christopher K.
Posts: 4837
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Omega Centauri

Post by Christopher K. » June 12th, 2011, 11:46 pm

I'm truly impressed now. Ben has a system of timing and positioning on HRPO grounds to now show our public Omega Centauri on appropriate successive weekends--whenever he can be here, anyway. Omega Centauri, along with Canopus, are part of that short list of rare treats we cannot get in either the 20OGS or 16OGS.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4837
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Omega Centauri

Post by Christopher K. » November 1st, 2011, 11:59 pm

Omega Centauri made it onto the list of Bob Berman's fifty strangest objects. It's #36 in his collection, which will be available for purchase until mid-January.

More information:
50 Weirdest Objects in the Cosmos, p. 31.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4837
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Omega Centauri

Post by Christopher K. » February 28th, 2012, 10:50 pm

I'm looking forward to an upcoming "Omega Centauri season". Right now it reaches its highest point in the Baton Rouge sky (about twelve degrees) at around 3am. It'll be visible in April during public viewing hours at HRPO, but I don't think I'll wait that long!

Christopher K.
Posts: 4837
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Omega Centauri

Post by Christopher K. » May 22nd, 2012, 8:38 pm

The next couple of weeks has Omega Centauri in prime position for those who like to retire early. HRPO's southern horizon isn't the darkest and (though with difficulty) we can usually find it if persistent. Here are probably the closest times on upcoming selective nights it will be its highest--all of twelve degrees.

22 May, 10:30pm CDT
27 May, 10:10pm CDT
1 June, 9:50pm CDT
6 June, 9:30pm CDT
11 June, 9:10pm CDT

Don't let this old APOD lead to a letdown feeling when and if you actually see the object live!
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap020416.html

Christopher K.
Posts: 4837
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Omega Centauri

Post by Christopher K. » April 3rd, 2013, 5:24 pm

As usual, HRPO personnel will attempt to show International Astronomy Day patrons Omega Centauri during the closing minutes of the event. This year's IAD is Saturday, 20 April. The attempted viewing of Omega Centauri starts at 10pm.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4837
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Omega Centauri

Post by Christopher K. » May 7th, 2013, 1:03 pm

Well, it was just too early in the year for us to see Omega Centauri from HRPO. (20 April is just about the earliest IAD can be.) However, a nice consolation is the 1 May APOD from Joaquin Polleri and Ezequiel Etcheverry. Omega Centauri is easily older than our Sun.

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130501.html

Christopher K.
Posts: 4837
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Omega Centauri

Post by Christopher K. » March 21st, 2019, 5:24 pm

Omega Centauri is part of the "spring collection" offered by the Baton Rouge sky. The city is only thirty degrees north of the equator, and so its residents see a number of Southern Hemisphere celestial objects.

On 5 April at 7:30pm, BREC Education Curator Amy Brouillette will present "Wonders of the Spring Sky" at the Highland Road Park Observatory. This talk is specifically for spring of 2019, is aimed at a general adult audience and has no admission fee.

More information:
http://hrpo.lsu.edu/programs/friday.html

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