The SPIRIT Sky in September

A Stellar Cemetery
September presents the best time of the year to image two famous northern hemisphere objects; the Dumbbell Nebula (M27) and the Ring Nebula (M57).

The Dumbbell Nebula is the first and perhaps most famous planetary nebula discovered. The remnant of a sun-like star having exhausted its hydrogen fuel, the dumbbell shape shows the expanding shell of gas ejected by a star after becoming a red giant. The ring nebula also shows an expanding shell of gas around a small white dwarf star.

These two planetary nebulae bare no association with planets. They are the remnants of stars that provide an insight into what lays in store for our sun when it eventually reaches the end of its life.

Both objects are low in the northern sky. Use Stellarium to plan your timing to capture them at their highest points, as they cross the meridian. The objects can only be reached using SPIRIT II.

A bright spiral in Pavo
High overhead mid month is the beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 6744. An easy target for either SPIRIT I or SPIRIT II captured with exposures of around 60 seconds.

Last chance to image the Trifid
With the centre of the Milky Way now heading westwards, September is a good month to image the bright Sagittarius nebulae as they are now well past the Perth city glow. The famous quartet includes: M16 (The Eagle Nebula), M17 (The Omega Nebula), M8 (The Lagoon Nebula) and M20 (The Trifid Nebula). A host of globular clusters also lay close to this rich area of the milky way sky.

The moon is full on September 30th, so the best times to image faint objects will be between September 8th and September 23rd.

The Perth night facing south at 7:30 pm on September 15th
(click on image to enlarge)