October- Garnet Star and Saturn Nebula


The Saturn Nebula (NGC 7009) is a planetary nebula in the constellation Aquarius. While at a glance the name may seem misplaced, it comes from the thin lobes on either end of its disk. These projections, called ansae (Latin for “handles”), make this nebula look like Saturn with rings in large telescopes. The ansae are actually gas that the nebula has ejected in opposite directions. This fascinating object lies some 5,000 light-years away. The Saturn Nebula resides slightly more than 1° west of the magnitude 4.5 star Nu (ν) Aquarii, or just slightly southeast of the midpoint of a line from magnitude 2.9 Sadalsuud (Beta [β] Aquarii) to magnitude 3.1 Dabih (Beta Capricorni).

Because the nebula glows at magnitude 8, it’s easy to observe through an 8-inch or larger telescope. Your best chance to observe some details is to use magnifications above 200x — or at least the highest that sky conditions at your observing site allow.
First, try to spot the central star. This magnitude 11.5 point of light sits at the center of NGC 7009. Once a hydrogen-fusing star like our own Sun, the star is now a white dwarf.
Once you find the central star, take a look at the overall shape, which definitely appears oval. The long axis of the disk spans 25'. Each ansa protrudes from the disk another 2'. If you are viewing through a 14-inch or larger scope, examine the ends of the ansae and look for slightly fainter round regions.


Mu Cephei is a red supergiant in the constellation Cepheus. This star may be the largest star visible to the naked eye at roughly 2.4 billion miles across! If it replaced our Sun, it would extend beyond the orbit of Saturn! is known to be a semi-regular variable. Its magnitude randomly ranges from 3.4 to 5.1 over a period of about 860 days. The color of the star is quite magnificent and has been the source of some discussion. It is most often described as "a deep red" or "reddish orange" but has sometimes been noted as "orange" and even having "a purplish tint". The most famous observation of Mu Cep comes from Sir William Hershel who commented on its "garnet" color, an observation that lead to the popular name "Herschel's garnet star".