things you see in the sky

Amazing Astronomy Facts: Mind-Blowing Things You See In The Sky

A Cornucopia of Delights

Our universe offers near-infinite opportunities for entertainment and education. No matter where you turn your telescope in the night sky, there is something to see in the sky waiting to surprise and astound you.

Here are a few of the things you see in the sky when you're looking through a telescope, whether they're galaxies, nebula, or other celestial phenomena that have been discovered and observed in the deep sky. Prepare to be amazed!

Here Are Just a Few of the Things You See in the Sky​

The following are presented in no particular order, and are just an infinitesimal portion of the delights that await astronomers.​

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The Sombrero Galaxy​

The majestic Sombrero Galaxy is flat as a hat, and thus is true to its namesake.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Sombrero Galaxy Facts:

  • ​Unbarred spiral galaxy
  • 28 million light years from Earth
  • 50,000 light years in diameter
  • Located in the constellation Virgo

The Little Sombrero Galaxy

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

​Little Sombrero Galaxy Facts:

  • Official name is ​NGC 7814. Sometimes referred to as the "Little Sombrero" because of its resemblance to the Sombrero Galaxy.
  • Spiral galaxy
  • 40 million light years away
  • Located in the constellation Pegasus
  • Known for its backdrop of faint, remote galaxies.

The Flaming Star Nebula

Named for the fact that it causes the star it surrounds to appear as though it were on fire.​

flaming star nebula

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Flaming Star Nebula Facts:

  • ​Emission/reflection nebula in the constellation Auriga
  • Surrounds the bluish stare AE Aurige
  • Located near the naked-eye K-class star Hassaleh
  • Measures approximately 5 light-years across
  • Located near emission nebula IC 410

The Blue Snowball Nebula

blue snowball nebula

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Blue Snowball Nebula Facts:

  • ​Located in the constellation Andromeda
  • Estimated to be approximately 1,800-5,600 light years away
  • Size estimated to be between 20,000 and 50,000 AU in diameter
  • The star at its center is a bluish dwarf
  • A popular planetary nebula for casual observers, as its nature can be revealed even by a small telescope

The Cave Nebula

This particular nebula is difficult to see, but with sufficient exposure it can create a mystifying image.​

cave nebula

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Cave Nebula Facts:

  • ​Also known as S 155 or Caldwell 9
  • Located in the constellation Cepheus
  • Contained within a larger nebula complex with other emission, reflection, and dark nebulosity
  • The name of this nebula comes from the dark area on the eastern side and abutting the brightest portion of the nebula
  • Has the appearance of a deep cave when viewed through a telescope.

​The Spindle Galaxy

​The name "Spindle Galaxy" has actually been applied to two different galaxies, NGC 5866 and NGC 3115.

spindle galaxy

​Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Spindle Galaxy Facts (for NGC 5866):

  • As compared to other galaxies, this is a relatively bright galaxy, so you have a better chance of finding it with a smaller telescope.
  • A lenticular or spiral galaxy
  • Located in the constellation Draco
  • Has a highly unusual dust disk rarely seen in lenticular galaxies
  • It is possible that this is a spiral galaxy; its classification is not certain
spindle galaxy

​Spindle Galaxy Facts (for NGC 3115):

  • ​Also known as Caldwell 53
  • Located approximately 32 million light years away
  • This galaxy is several times the size of the Milky Way
  • Lenticular galaxy
  • The vast majority of the stars in this galaxy are quite old
  • Very little of the dust that is used to create new stars remains in this galaxy

​The Eye Galaxy

"A great eye, lidless, wreathed in flame." Okay, maybe not, but they do sometimes call this one the "Evil Eye Galaxy".

black eye galaxy

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Black Eye Galaxy Facts:

  • ​Discovered in 1779 by Edward Pigott
  • There is a dark band of absorbing dust in front of the bright nucleus
  • Well-known among amateur astronomers because it can be seen even with small telescopes
  • The Black Eye Galaxy is made up of two counter-rotating disks of roughly equal mass
  • Likely came about after the collision of two smaller galaxies

​The Owl Nebula

This is one of the faintest items in the Messier catalog. So called because an early illustration resembled an owl.

owl nebula

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Owl Nebula Facts:

  • A planetary nebula approximately 2,030 light years away
  • Found in the constellation Ursa Major
  • Approximately 8,000 years old
  • Formed from an outflow of material from the stellar wind from its central star
  • Formed of three concentric shells
  • The middle shell is a non-circularly symmetric and is in the shape of the barrel, giving the nebula its shape

The Bubble Nebula

The appearance of a "bubble" is the result of a solar wind blowing from a massive, extremely hot central star.

bubble nebula

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Bubble Nebula Facts:

  • An emission nebula in the constellation Cassiopeia
  • Discovered in 1787 by William Herschel
  • The nebula is visible with an 8- or 10-inch telescope
  • Found near a giant molecular cloud that contains the expansion of the nebula

​The Sunflower Galaxy

​It's a happy-looking galaxy with bright yellow highlights.

sunflower galaxy

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Sunflower Galaxy Facts:

  • ​Spiral galaxy
  • Located in the constellation Canes Venatici
  • Part of the M51 group, a group that includes the Whirlpool Galaxy
  • Active galaxy with a LINER nucleus
  • This was one of the first galaxies in which spiral structures were identified

Final Thoughts

This is just a small (infinitesimal, in fact) sampling of the incredible variety of objects to see in the night sky. Various types and sizes of viewing devices will be able to see some portion of those listed here.

If you're not sure where to start, check out our full telescope buyer's guide here.