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Sidereal Time 13h: The Hour of Omega Centauri

Posted May 20, 2017

At a time late in spring the sky is unusually dark on cloudless nights at the end of twilight. The reason is the complete absence of the Milky Way, which is stretched flat on the horizon. This starts at the beginning of May at nightfall. It is sidereal time 13h, the hour of Omega Centauri. For at that time, that remarkable naked-eye object crosses the meridian right after dusk ends. For observers in the northern hemisphere from latitudes less than 37 degrees this is a consolation for the missing marvel of the Milky Way.

Credit: project nightflight

Omega Centauri is in fact no less spectacular than any region of the Milky Way. It is easily visible to the unaided eye, stunning in binoculars and a true gem when observed through a telescope. And it comes as a double feature. In binoculars the famous radio galaxy Centaurus A is visible in the same field of view. The ghost-like galaxy is only 4 degrees north of the brighter Omega Centauri cluster.

Credit: project nightflight

Both project nightflight images were shot on La Palma island in Spain, Europe. One shows the Omega Centauri cluster above the typical Canarian pine trees, the second shows Omega Centauri with its close neighbor NGC 5128, the Centaurus A galaxy.


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