Deep Sky Companions: Hidden Treasures

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This new and exciting Deep-Sky Companions: Hidden Treasures observing guide by Stephen J. O’Meara complements his two previous and very popular observing books – Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects and Deep-Sky Companions: The Caldwell Objects. This new volume spotlights an original selection of 109 neglected deep-sky objects that will appeal to sky-watchers worldwide. None of the 109 objects in this new volume are included in either the Messier or Caldwell catalogs.

The “hidden treasures” include a wonderful assortment of 35 galaxies, 38 open clusters, 8 globular clusters, 14 planetary nebulas, 8 bright nebulas, 1 dark nebula, and more, all of which have been carefully chosen based on their popularity and ease of observing. All are visible in a 4” telescope under a clear, dark sky. In fact, the vast majority of them can be seen (some with effort) in a nineteenth-century 1” brass spyglass or 7 × 50mm binoculars under the same dark-sky conditions. Almost all reside at least 10° above the southern horizon for an observer at 40° north latitude.

The Hidden Treasures list includes the brightest, smallest, most unusual, and, arguably, the most fascinating planetary nebulas in the night sky. It also includes a double cluster of stars in Perseus, i.e. not the Double Cluster; bubbling cauldrons of vapor that mark the sites of intense star formation; starburst galaxies that can manufacture suns at the phenomenal rate of hundreds of millions per year; open clusters so young that the earliest ancestors of humans could have seen them just beginning to shine; and globular clusters so old that they just may be as old as the universe itself. There’s a pair of interacting galaxies that are pivotal to Halton Arp’s redshift argument (which challenges the almost universally held belief that the large redshifts of quasars and other active galaxies are due to cosmic expansion), and a galaxy whose core may harbor a 10-million-solar-mass black hole. Pink planetaries, yellow globulars, blue clusters, black clouds, they’re all here.

Some of the hidden treasures, like NGC 404 or NGC 2024 are bright enough to be seen in binoculars but can be easily overlooked because they lie so close to a bright star. Others are overshadowed by a more popular (Messier or Caldwell) object nearby. For example, the naked-eye open cluster NGC 1647 lies between the Hyades and Messier 1. Some hidden treasure bright nebulas are small, and they appear on star charts only as tiny green boxes (sometimes unnumbered), so they are easily overlooked. A good example is NGC 1333 in Perseus. It is a beautiful reflection nebula that appears on many popular star charts only as a box, no bigger than the symbol for a 4th-magnitude star. NGC 2163, aside from being totally obscure, is a stunning, bi-polar planetary nebula in Orion visible in a 2-inch refractor. And some objects – such as the “peculiar planetary” NGC 1360 in Fornax – just seem to lie in regions of sky that are, for one reason or another, neglected by observers due to the lack of bright stars nearby. Hidden Treasures, then, opens up a whole new window on the universe for small-telescope users who want to move beyond the Messier and Caldwell catalogs.

Stunning photographs and beautiful drawings accompany detailed visual descriptions of the objects, which include their rich histories and astrophysical significance. The author’s original finder charts are designed to help observers get to their targets fast and efficiently.

Owners of all three titles in the Deep-Sky Companions series will have the most up-to-date astrophysical and visual information on nearly 330 deep-sky objects, with ancillary data on many more. As with Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects and Deep-Sky Companions: The Caldwell Objects, the purpose of this book is to offer new and fresh perspectives on the history and visual appearance of each object; to help you find each object; and to summarize the latest research findings on each. Each of the 109 hidden treasures is accompanied by an essay that describes recent observations from the Hubble Space Telescope, the world’s largest ground-based telescopes, and a fleet of spacecraft that now peer (or have peered) into the universe with X-ray and infrared-sensitive “eyes.” The essays are also filled with historical anecdotes, including solutions to some outstanding mysteries (including the debate over whether M102 is NGC 5866); observational challenges (naked eye and telescopic); and descriptions of other interesting objects. All in all, an intriguing book that will afford you hours of reading pleasure when the skies are too cloudy to search out the hidden treasures with your own eyes.

The hardback book contains 602 10” x 6.85” pages, with 120 black and white photographs, 120 figures, and 110 eyepiece finder charts. It weighs a very substantial 4 pounds, six ounces. Published in 2007.

The author, Stephen J. O’Meara, has spent much of his career on the editorial staff of Sky & Telescope magazine. His many astronomical achievements include being the first person to sight Halley’s Comet on its 1985 return, noticing the dark “spokes” in Saturn’s B ring before the Voyager 1 spacecraft imaged them, and determining the rotation period of the distant planet Uranus. He received The Texas Star Party Omega Centauri Award for “advancing astronomy through observation, writing, and promotion, and for his love of the sky,” and the International Astronomical Union named asteroid 3637 O’Meara in his honor.

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Clear skies,

This book of celestial hidden treasures includes the 109 brightest, smallest, most unusual, and, arguably, the most fascinating deep sky objects in the night sky that are not included in the famous Messier and Caldwell catalogs – all of them visible in a 4” telescope . . .

. . . our 34th year