Utilize the Prominent Barnard’s Giant ‘E’ in the Sky

In the vast expanse of the night sky, there are countless wonders waiting to be discovered. One such marvel is Barnard’s ‘E’, a remarkable object located in the constellation of Aquila. This celestial spectacle is formed from the dark nebulae Barnard 142 and Barnard 143, also known as B142/143. Dark nebulae are dense clouds of interstellar gas and dust that can block out the light from stars and other celestial objects, creating a captivating sight for stargazers.

When observed through a pair of binoculars or wide-field images, Barnard’s ‘E’ appears as a giant, black ‘E’ etched against the backdrop of Aquila’s stunning Milky Way star fields. It’s truly a sight to behold, capturing the imagination of astronomers and enthusiasts alike.

To locate Barnard’s ‘E’, one simply needs to sweep their gaze 1.3 degrees west-north-west of Tarazed, a distinctively orange-hued star known as gamma Aquilae. Tarazed lies two degrees north-west of Altair, which is the brightest star in Aquila. This celestial wonder can be observed throughout the month of August, as the nights grow longer. In London, for example, it reaches its peak visibility at around 11pm BST, when it appears at an altitude of approximately 50 degrees.

Spanning about a degree, Barnard’s ‘E’ covers an area equivalent to two full moons in the night sky. Despite its grandeur, this awe-inspiring sight can be easily observed with a humble pair of 10 x 50 binoculars or a low-powered small telescope on a moonless night. When peering through these instruments, Barnard 143 is more readily visible, resembling the shape of a ‘C’ or an open mouth. On the other hand, Barnard 142 is less conspicuous, forming the lower horizontal bar of the ‘E’. The lower part of the upright of the ‘E’ is a subtle feature that comes to life in deep images. By increasing the magnification, observers can search for intricate structures within the ‘E’, adding another layer of fascination to this celestial phenomenon.

In a wider context, when observing Barnard’s ‘E’, one is treated to a breathtaking view of the night sky. Within the approximately 10-degree by 7-degree field in Aquila, Barnard’s ‘E’ reigns supreme at its center. To the east and southeast, the eye-catching orange-red gamma Aquilae and the brilliant Altair can be seen, complementing the overall composition of this celestial tapestry.

Barnard’s ‘E’ serves as a reminder of the immense beauty and complexity of our universe. It beckons us to explore further, to delve into the mysteries that lie beyond our reach. So, on your next stargazing adventure, take a moment to seek out Barnard’s ‘E’ in Aquila. Let its enigmatic form captivate your senses and ignite your curiosity about the wonders that await us in the vastness of space.