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Spica is your guide star to Omega Centauri | EarthSky.org

Chart at top via Stellarium/SkyandTelescope.org

Let the waning gibbous moon make it easier to discover the star Spica across the night of March 29, 2021. Then, all through April and May, let the glowing blue-white star Spica function your information to the well-known Omega Centauri cluster. In early April, Spica and Omega Centauri climb highest up for the night time at or round 1 a.m. (2 a.m. daylight time). Because the celebrities return to the sky about 4 minutes earlier with every passing day, Spica and Omega Centauri shall be highest up for the night time round one hour earlier in mid-April (12 midnight or 1 a.m. daylight time), and two hours earlier by the top of April (11 p.m. or 12 midnight daylight time).

What is Omega Centauri? It’s the most important and best globular star cluster seen to the attention alone.

What if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere? Click here.


Let the moon introduce you to Spica, the brightest star to mild up the constellation Virgo the Maiden. Once you change into associates with this glowing blue-white gem of a star, Spica serves as your information to the Omega Centauri globular cluster.

Omega Centauri accommodates a few of our Milky Way galaxy’s most historical stars. Globular clusters are giant, symmetrically formed groupings of stars, pretty evenly distributed across the core of our Milky Way galaxy. Many northern stargazers have this specific cluster on their bucket lists as a result of it’s positioned slightly far to the south in our Northern Hemisphere skies.

Seeing Omega Centauri could be very particular partly as a result of you may see it along with your eye alone, assuming you have got a dark enough sky. Very few of the Milky Way galaxy’s 250 or so globular star clusters are readily seen with out optics.

Like all globular clusters, Omega Centauri is finest seen by means of a telescope. Then you see it as a globe-shaped stellar metropolis, teeming with an estimated 10 million stars!

Omega Centauri


The Omega Centauri star cluster from Greg Hogan in Kathleen, Georgia. Thanks, Greg!

How can I discover Spica, after which the cluster? From Northern Hemisphere places, you should utilize the Big Dipper to search out Spica. Just “follow the arc” within the Big Dipper’s deal with to the intense orange star Arcturus, then “drive a spike” (hold extending that arc) to Spica.

In late April and early May, Spica transits – climbs to its highest level within the sky – round 11 p.m. (12 midnight daylight saving time) for all places across the globe. With every passing week, Spica will transit half an hour earlier. By mid-May, Spica shall be transiting (showing highest within the sky) round 10 p.m. (11 p.m. daylight saving time).

When Spica is highest within the south for Northern Hemisphere viewers, Omega Centauri is, too. When Spica is highest, search for Omega Centauri about 35 degrees immediately beneath it. A fist at arm’s size approximates 10 levels.

You can see Omega Centauri with the unaided eye in case your sky is dark enough and if you happen to’re far sufficient south on the Earth. People dwelling south of 35 degrees north latitude have a practical probability of recognizing the cluster over the southern horizon, although Omega Centauri has been seen as far north as Point Pelee National Park in Canada (42 degrees north latitude). Omega Centauri seems like a reasonably faint (and probably fuzzy) star.

And, in fact, it’s superior from the Southern Hemisphere.

Omega Centauri


Extend the arc of the Big Dipper deal with to arc to Arcturus and to spike Spica!

 Omega Centauri


The globular cluster Omega Centauri – with as many as 10 million stars – glows in all its splendor on this picture captured from the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

What if I’m within the Southern Hemisphere? As seen from the Southern Hemisphere, Spica and Omega Centauri cross extra practically overhead. They nonetheless transit at roughly the identical time (1 a.m. early April, midnight in mid-April, 11 p.m. in early May). They’re nonetheless positioned about 35 levels aside.

From the Southern Hemisphere, you’ve obtained a lovely method to discover this cluster. And, certainly, your view of the cluster shall be higher than ours within the north, as a result of Omega Centauri shall be greater in your sky.

To get in its common neighborhood on the sky’s dome, search for the well-known Southern Cross, which, formally, is the constellation Crux. Along the jap fringe of Crux is the darkish Coalsack Nebula. Near the Coalsack – seen in binoculars – is the Jewel Box, an open star cluster with about 100 members, whose stars are coloured pink, white and blue.

If you may find these objects, you’ll additionally discover Omega Centauri. Consult the chart beneath for its location.

Omega Centauri


Chart by way of Space-Talk.

Omega Centauri


View larger. | Omega Centauri in March 2016, by Rob Pettengill in Terlingua, Texas.

Bottom line: In late March, the moon might help you discover the star Spica, which might lead you to the Omega Centauri globular cluster. From the Southern Hemisphere, star hop from the Southern Cross, to the darkish Coalsack Nebula, to the Jewel Box star cluster, to Omega Centauri. Binoculars or a telescope present it finest.

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