Two of the three objects that I showed tonight, the first night of UConn’s infamous Spring Weekend:
This is M53, a globular cluster in the constellation Coma Berenices. It presently spends most of the night climbing out of the eastern horizon, and looks something like a fuzzy pebble here at Storrs observatory. The very bright center of the cluster is just visible using averted vision.
[Photo grabbed from the Wikimedia project, located here, though it's in the public domain as it was captured by the Hubble.]
This is M44, also known as Praesepe (Latin for ‘manger’), also known as The Beehive Cluster. It’s an open cluster in the constellation Cancer. Something of a late-winter/Spring Pleiades, it makes for a beautiful binocular object and completely overflows even a low magnification telescope’s field of view. Open clusters tend to elicit the second-best response from students, after planets and just before nebulae. It’s especially powerful if I have the opportunity to show them an area just away from the cluster, and then bring the cluster in. The contrast between “a couple of stars” and “there’s so many stars!” is very nice.
I should mention that really only the bright stars in this photograph stand out when viewed from the ground.
[Photo grabbed from here, origin beyond that unknown.]