The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the La Silla Observatory in Chile provides a gorgeous view of NGC 3293, a compact cluster of young stars in the constellation Carina that was born 10 million years ago in a fertile nursery of gas and dust near the Eta Carina nebula complex. Similar in age to the more famous Jewel Box cluster, NGC 3293, aka the Gem, was discovered in 1752 by Abbe Nicholas Louis de la Callé. In the second edition of Astronomical Objects for Southern Telescopes (AOST2), David Frew describes the Gem cluster as “reminiscent of the Jewel Box, containing a bright red supergiant which contrasts nicely with the other cluster members. It is a fine object in even the smallest telescopes.”
The Southern Cross, or Crux to give it its official name, is the smallest of all the 88 constellations and an iconic feature of the antipodean sky. Yet it is not solely an asterism and navigation aid of the far south, as it can be seen from the Tropic of Cancer when best placed. Come and explore its wealth of interesting objects for binoculars and small telescopes.
An international team of astronomers have used the Very Large Telescope Interferometer to image the Eta Carinae star system in the greatest detail ever achieved. They found new and unexpected structures within the binary system, including in the area between the two stars where extremely high velocity stellar winds are colliding.