12 favourite things of the night sky

Introducing the Milky-Way.kiwi catalog of awesome objects of the night sky as voted by us at Milky-Way.kiwi and placed in order of awesomeness. Our recommendation is that, if you do noting else in your life, you should see all of these objects. So book your flights and get your telescopes packed, because here is the final definitive list of the best night sky objects.

Milky-Way.kiwi lives in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, so we are lucky to be able to appreciate the whole of the night sky. This, we think, qualifies us to make this, the definitive Milky-Way.kiwi catalog of the most stunning night sky objects. For reference, the most stunning day time sky object catalog consists of the Sun and the Moon (that catalog was much simpler to put together).

The Definitive and Complete Milky-Way.kiwi Catalog of the Night Sky

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This one is a no brainer and you must have seen it. The Milky-Way.Kiwi is the best object of the night sky. This immensely popular night sky object is at the galactic centre. You’ll need a good dark sky site and fantastic views of the centre of the galaxy to catch a glimpse of this fantastic object. I’m very surprised there’s no record of this fantastic night sky object in the night sky records from antiquity, oh well, poor them for missing out.

How to find the Milky-Way.kiwi, with help from ESO’s stunning image of the Milky Way

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The second best object in the night sky, the most beautiful sight to ever grace an eyepiece, has got to be Saturn. It is stunning, the rings are amazing and the first sight of Saturn is one you will never forget. The good thing is, Saturn is visible to everyone. If you’ve got great seeing and a reasonably powerful telescope you should see the Cassini Division in the rings and some of the banding on the planet. The beauty of Saturn is that the plane of the rings appears to change in tilt to us observers on Earth so giving varying views.

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The next best thing of the night sky is 47 Tucanae. This is a stunning globular cluster and a great sight with a beautiful and bright core, that is easy to see. It is visible to the naked eye. You’ll have to be able to see the Small Magellanic Cloud to see it though, as it’s a stalwart of the Southern Sky. If you can’s see it from your location, then just imagine M15 and multiply the awesomeness by about 100.

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The great galaxy of M31 – Andromeda is the fourth best object of the night sky. This majestic and huge deep sky object is visible to the naked eye in dark sky locations. It’s a Northern Sky object and only visible to those in the South who live at lower latitudes. This object is huge, about 117 arcminutes, by comparison the Moon today is 32 arcminutes in apparent size, so this massive object is about 3.5 times as big as the moon. It’s a delight to observe and if the conditions are good and you don’t have too much light pollution you can easily see dust lanes and make out the galaxy quite some distance from the core.

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The double star Albireo takes out the number 5 spot, have you ever seen it? It’s the most beautiful double star, one blue and the other one orange, they look stunning. These two stars contrast each other in amazing colour and are truly worth viewing. It is not known if they are actually a part of the same binary system or just optical double.

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The Dumbbell Nebula (M27) is the next best most awesome object of the night sky. It would have been beaten by the Helix Nebula, if that object was brighter, but it isn’t. Dumbbell is awesome. It was my first object ever sketched while juggling looking through the eyepiece and manually correcting the telescope. It’s easily seen, is bright and reasonably large for a planetary nebula. The cool thing about this nebula is that the central star is still visible, though you need a good telescope to see it. Of the planetary nebula, this one is hard to beat.

Dumbbell Nebula, taken by the author

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The great nebula in Orion, M42, has to be on this list. We did wonder if Eta Carina Nebula was better, but given Orion is far more visible to a greater proportion of the world and often one of the first objects people look at it, then we thought it has a well deserved place on the list. M42 is stunning and easy to spot. It s bright and huge, and through a telescope shows clear clouds of nebula, not to mention the excitement induced to viewers when they realise they can see the stars of the Trapezium. It’s one of the most accessible deep sky objects, in that it’s easily enjoyed with binoculars and telescopes alike.

M42, taken by the author

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The Jewel Box Cluster is the next on the list. This stunning and colourful cluster is an amazing delight to view in the eyepiece. It’s a reasonably compact cluster and to really appreciate the colour of the stars you’ll need a telescope but a pair binoculars will still give a good view. It’s a very easy cluster to find, being right next to the Southern Cross.

Terrible image of Jewel Box Cluster taken by the author’s iPhone

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The other most amazing galaxy of the Northern Sky has to be the highly photogenic M51, or Whirlpool Galaxy. This galaxy is so bright that you can easily see the spiral arms and knotty star forming regions of it’s spiral structure in moderately powerful telescopes. It’s a great galaxy to show people as you can explain how long it has taken the light to get here, and mind boggle them about how many stars they are looking at.

M51, taken by the author

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Number 10 on our list is Omega Centauri. There’s often a healthy discussion on whether 47 Tuc is better or Omega Centauri is better. If nothing else, the shear size of this giant globular cluster secures it’s space on this list. It fills the eyepiece with millions of stars and it’s amazing to view.

Omega Centauri, taken by the author

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The next on the list is another galaxy and a giant a giant of the Southern Sky, M83, sometimes called the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy. Like M51, the structure of this spiral galaxy is easily visible in moderate telescopes as it’s spiral arms are nice and bright. A more powerful telescope will show up some of the star forming regions and whispy parts of the more outer regions.

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The last object on our list is the great Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This is a beautiful nebula and is huge. The other cool thing about this object is how far away it is. It’s 160,000 light years away, and if it was as close as Orion Nebula it would cast a shadow, and clearly ruin our deep sky observing so it’s a good thing this giant spider is in another galaxy.

Tarantula Nebula, taken by the author