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.”
Spectacular new observations of vast pillar-like structures within the Carina Nebula have been made using the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The different pillars analysed by an international team seem to be pillars of destruction — in contrast to the name of the iconic Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula, which are of similar nature.
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.