Halloween Treats in the Night Sky

Happy Halloween, Stargazers! It’s time to seek out some spooky treats in the sky.

The Skull Nebula (also designated NGC 246) in Cetus (the Whale) is located in the southeastern sky in mid-evening. This planetary nebula’s oval shape and dark voids within it resemble a skull.

For a challenge, try to spot Mirach’s Ghost (NGC 404), a magnitude 11.7 galaxy tucked just above the bright star Mirach in Andromeda (the Princess), making it a difficult target to observe or photograph.

Night owls can try for the Witch Head Nebula (NGC 1909), which will be rising after 10 pm local time this week. It was nicknamed the Witch Head because it looks like a profile of a wicked witch. This object is actually a reflection nebula - the light from a bright is scattering off of the interstellar dust that it is embedded within - making the same type of blue we see in the sky in daytime. The object is large, too - it measures 3 finger widths high by 1 finger width across. It is centred 2.5 finger widths to the upper right (or to the celestial east) of the bright star Rigel in Orion (the Hunter).

Enjoy the sky!

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