Auriga Constellation: Visit the Galactic Anticenter!

Auriga Constellation: Visit the Galactic Anticenter!

 February is an ideal time to catch the Auriga Constellation riding across the northern hemisphere’s winter sky. Known as The Charioteer, Auriga is visible from 90° North to 40° South and plays host to the galactic anticenter, which is the point in the sky that is directly opposite the center of the Milky Way.

  One of its most prominent features is Capella, which is the sixth brightest star in the sky. Known as the Goat Star, Capella actually consists of two sets of binary pairs. The first is a set of large, bright yellow giants that are very close together and the second is a pair of small red dwarfs. A triangle-shaped asterism lies near the brilliant star system, and its trio of stars is often referred to as “The Kids.” Auriga also is home to Epsilon Aurigae, an eclipsing binary star system that dims for about two years every 27 years. The main component in the system is a supergiant but the nature of its companion has long been a subject of debate.

  Beyond its star offerings, Auriga has many deep sky treasures including the Messier 36, Messier 37 and Messier 38 open star clusters and the Flaming Star Nebula. This beautiful emission/reflection nebula is about five lightyears across and surrounds AE Aurigae - a brilliant blue star characterized as a “runaway star“ due to the fact that it is moving at a higher velocity than its neighboring stars. It is believed that AE Aurigae was ejected when two binary systems collided.

Astrophotographer Fred Housel captured this image of the Flaming Star Nebula in the Auriga Constellation using Explore Scientific's ED127 telescope. This beautiful emission/reflection nebula is about five lightyears across and surrounds AE Aurigae - a brilliant blue star characterized as a “runaway star“ due to the fact that it is moving at a higher velocity than its neighboring stars. It is believed that AE Aurigae was ejected when two binary systems collided.

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