A guide to what's up in the sky for Southern Australia

Object of the Month (4th Mar 2024)

Eta Carinae Nebula (NGC 3372)
Distance: 7500 Light Years
Right Ascension: 10 : 43.8 | Declination: -59 : 52

The southern Milky Way holds one of the most enigmatic and exotic stars known. Eta Carinae is the centerpiece and ionizing star of the great HII region, the Eta Carinae Nebula. The nebula itself spans some 260 light years across, about 7 times the size of the Orion Nebula. Massive is an understatement as the great star weighs in at some 100 to 150 solar masses and shines with the light output of 5 million suns. The young supergiant star (only 2 to 3 million years old) pumps out as much energy in 6 seconds as our sun does in an entire year!

Because of its extraordinary mass the star is certainly expected to end as a great supernova in the near future. An energy outburst of this order could possibly devastate starfields and planets within a few thousand light years radius.