Solar System

(The Sea Monster)

Cetus the sea monster is a large galaxy filled constellation visible towards the horizon on autumn nights. It is between the aquatic constellations, Pisces and Eridanus the River.

In Greek mythhology, Cetus was the monster dispatched to ravage the kingdom of Cassiopeia and to threaten Andromeda.

Mira the Wonderful, a famous variable star resides in this faint constellation. Its name comes from Johannes Hevelius who gave it the name almost 350 years ago in 1662. The magnitude can rise to as bright as 3 and plummit down to telescope only visibility at magnitude 9. Even though it has delighted astronomers for many centuries, Mira still continues to astound and surprise! In 2007, an elongated tail that stretched outwards from the star was discovered, unfortunately it can only be seen in ultraviolet rays.


M77 is an incredible example of a Seyfert galaxy. Seyfert galaxies are characterised by very bright nuclei and faint spiral arms. They were identified by Carl Seyfert in 1943. The outpouring of energy by these galaxies is 100 times more than regular galaxies and they have increased output of infrared energy and x-rays.

The left side of M77 contains more star forming regions than the right. The right side contains dark clouds that seem to obscure part of the galaxy. The dark clouds are dust ejected by a possible jet emitted from the active nucleus.

The galaxy is near two objects, a star called Delta Ceti and an edge on galaxy called NGC 1055. M77 actually makes an iridescent pair with NGC 1055 and they face each other diagonally. M77 is also one of a dozen Messier galaxies that are catalogued in the Arp Atlas, it has the alternative name of Arp 37.

NGC 246:

The gossamer glow of this magnitude 11 planetary nebula lights up the sky near Beta and Phi Ceti.

The main bubble is purple with an outer blue green ring that is unequal in shape. On the right of the nebula, the ring doesn't wrap neatly around the purple shell, it extends outwards slightly.

The central star is a beacon of light, it is almost the same magnitude as the nebula. It is a white dwarf and might be variable as it has reportedly fluctuated in brightness.

The dark void at the right side has lent it the informal name of the Skull Nebula. To some it may not look like a skull at all.

NGC 247:
Very close at 8 million light years away, NGC 247 is a dwarf galaxy with an elongated shape that is reminiscent of an intergalactic cruiser. On the left side is an unexplainable mysterious void that either blocks the light of stars behind it or the stars wrap around the void. On the right side of the structure lies a blazing foreground star. This galaxy belongs to the Sculptor group of galaxies.
IC 1613:

A faint irregular galaxy, this was discovered in 1906 by Max Wolf. It is one of the galaxies that is part of the Local Group of galaxies, our Milky Way belongs to this group. The faintness of this galaxy is quite surprising as it is only 2.4 million light years away, about the same distance as the Andromeda Galaxy, which can be seen with the naked eye!

A mystery surrounds this fairly unremarkable galaxy, the lack of dust and star clusters. Only 25 star clusters have been identified since 1978 and there are only miniscule star forming regions.

NGC 908:
Containing million of burning furnaces of bright luminous stars, NGC 908 is a starburst spiral galaxy undergoing an intensive surge of star formation. This is probably due to being disturbed by another galaxy, the disturbance is evident when looking at the galaxy as the southern spiral arm has frayed edges and contains a curious split at the end. It also curves upwards as opposed to the complacency of the other spiral arm.
NGC 210:
A very attractive barred spiral galaxy with cosy spiral arms that appear to touch where the other one starts and this appears as a ring like structure in small telescopes but larger ones prove otherwise. The galaxy lies at a respectable distance of 70 million light years.
Abell 194:
One of the thousands of galaxy clusters catalogued by George Abell, this is fairly insignificant but it has a well kept secret, Minkowski's Object. This is a tiny blue dwarf galaxy near the elliptical NGC 541 and is only visible in the largest telescopes. It is being blasted by a jet from NGC 541 and this is triggering a massive surge of star formation, which is highly unusual for a dwarf galaxy.

Abell 194 is 265 million light years away with a sprinkling of 100 galaxies in total. This image shows a small portion of the entire cluster.

NGC 545 and NGC 547 are the two ellipticals in the upper right corner that appear to act as celestial spotlights that light the way to NGC 541 and Minkowski's Object. A very tenuous bridge can be seen between NGC 541 and NGC 545-7 and this is a radio jet being emitted by NGC 541.

This galaxy cluster is home to two of the 338 Arp galaxies,
NGC 541 is Arp 133 and NGC 545 and NGC 547 are Arp 308. Mouseover the galaxies to see their names.

Image copyright R. Croman
NGC 535 NGC 541 Minkowski's Object NGC 545 NGC 547 NGC 543 UGC 1003 UGC 996 NGC 538 UGC 984 Secret Page!