Finding the black hole in the night sky


Einstein was right. Black holes do exist.

On April 10, the first image of a black hole changed astronomical history. It was found in the heart of a gigantic elliptical galaxy 55 million light years away known as Messier 87. Einstein first proposed the existence of these cosmic vacuum cleaners that suck up light and matter more than 100 years ago.

In 1774, French astronomer Charles Messier started publishing a list of celestial objects known as the Messier catalogue. M87 is one of those objects. If you have a telescope with some patients, you can see M87 for yourself in the evening sky in the Virgo constellation.

First locate the handle of the Big Dipper. Then draw an imaginary arc with your figure towards to the next brightest star. That’s Arcturus in the constellation, Bootes. From there, spike down with you figure towards the horizon to the next bright star called Spica in the constellation Virgo. Through a telescope, find the Virgo cluster of about 1,200 galaxies, which includes M87.

Here are May stargazing events, which are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

May 7 – The Moon is below Mars in the evening sky.

May 10 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m, Spectator Building, 44 Frid Street, Hamilton. Free admission, door prizes and everybody welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected and appreciated. Author Alanna Mitchell will discuss her book The Spinning Magnet: Earth's Magnetic Field.

On the same night, the Moon is below the Beehive galaxy M44.

May 18 – The full Moon is called the Flower Moon.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca. Twitter: @MarioCCarr

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