Observation Report from Coyle Field 05/03/02
Sure felt good to get out to a dark clear sight for a change again. We had a few people there, Ro, Mauro and new guy John. Jim was there early to take pictures of the Planetary alignment. Between us we had the 12” LX200, LX90 and the 25X100 binos on the Uni-mount. The sky was streaky clouds till about 9:00 when they started to brake up and fade. Buy 9:30 it was nice and clear. Some of us stayed till about 1:00 AM.
First we went through many Messiers. M82 was outstanding in the 12”. Many bright areas and the big dark area almost broke it in half. M51 just got better and better as the night went on. Spiral arms visible with direct vision. The bright star you see in the foreground in pictures was very clear. One of the best views of M51 I’ve seen. Globulars M3, M5, M13, M92 all resolving nicely, very impressive. The Planetary alignment was real cool. Mercury, Mars, Venus and Saturn, very close to each other, maybe within 4 degrees, Jupiter way up above. First time I’ve seen Mercury. Looked like a dimmer version of Venus. Half moon shape. Now I have to track down Pluto so I could say I’ve seen them all. NGC5353/54, the Leopards Eyes outstanding as always. Could see one more galaxy in the SFOV. There’s a third Globular cluster in Hercules, NGC6229, it’s smaller than the other 2 Messiers, check it out. NGC4631 “the Whale” just a huge edge-on galaxy extending way out of the field at 138X with the 22MM eyepiece. We went to the 40MM at 76X for that one. Beautiful! Next, NGC4565, which you always have to look at, was amazing. Dark lane running through the center for all to see. Wonderful! M104 looked just like the pictures. Dark lane looking crusty on the edge. This really enhanced the bright edge. There were just so many, NGC4710 small but bright streak, very thin. I was picking off stuff from my favorites log one after another, all terrific. NGC4503, NGC4526 and NGC4419 were outstanding. NGC4438 & 4435 in the SFOV, and many others. The Virgo Cluster is just endless. I looked at some of these between new item hunting. Sometimes you need a brake from looking for extremely dim spots and enjoy something bright and easy. Here are the new items I logged. Note: This is the first opportunity I had to use the Southern Hemisphere Uranometria.
NGC3962 – Gal, Crater, mag 10.6, dia 2.9’, a bright center nucleus with some haze around it. Very visible.
NGC3636/37 – Gal pair, Crater, mag 13.0/13.0, dia 1.7’/1.1’, both visible as just a hazy dot. They formed a wide triangle with a field star.
NGC5426/27 – Gal pair, Virgo, mag 12.2/11.4, dia 2.9’/2.5’. Although the dia would suggest otherwise, 27 was bigger. Also brighter. They were right on top of each other. A dim pair but visible. 27 was a large circular shape, 26 smaller also round, just below.
NGC5343 – Gal, Virgo, mag 12.9, dia 1.4. A dim star like image with a haze around it.
Almost like an out of focus star.
NGC5634 – Globular Cluster, Virgo, mag 9.6, dia 4.9’. Well someone could have told me there was a Globular Cluster in Virgo, Thanks! Nice one to. Good size, like M53 but not as bright. It sits between to stars. Some grainy resolution. I’ll have to see this one again.
NGC5493 – Gal, Virgo, mag 11.5, dia 2.0’, Nice bright spot, like a big star. No real haziness around it. Saw it right away.
Next I got 4 Galaxies in Virgo all in the SFOV. Real nice picture.
NGC4261 – mag 10.3, dia 3.9
NGC4264 – mag 12.9, dia 1.1
NGC4260 – mag 11.8, dia2.6
NGC4269 – mag 14.0, dia 1.9
61 & 64 are very close, both round, 61 bigger and brighter, 64 quite visible for a 12.9 magnitude. They were at about 5 o’clock in the field. Up at 10 o’clock we had 60, which was just as bright as 61 but a bit smaller. I noticed another dim smudge at about 1 o’clock. I checked the Uranometria, sure enough NGC4269, right in the right spot. I punched it in on the LX200 hand control, bingo! 14th magnitude, cool. I just love those real dim ones. Those little bits of almost nothing really get heart pumping.
NGC4365 – Gal, Virgo, mag 11.0, dia 6.2, Huge Galaxy, bright center with a bright area around it dissipating into the sky. Real nice one.
Of course there were lots of things we saw I didn’t write down and I can’t remember. M64 the Black Eye Galaxy just came to mind. The black area very apparent. Nice dark little curve just above the Nucleus. It was my first time to get a good look at the LX90 and how it works. Very impressive. For $1000 less than the 8” LX200 it’s the same OTA. The Autostar control works great. It’s not ready with the ports for CCD camera, Computer hookup or auto focuser. I guess that’s part of the price difference. Other than that, for visual use it’s just about the same as the LX200. Good optics, and the base matches the top of the tripod so it’s easier to assemble. So if your not planning on getting into CCD or computer hookup, I'd ’recommend it over the LX200 only because of the $1000 price difference. I didn't ’ see anything else different. Good Luck with that John. The Item of the night was, since I have only one more to go, had to be Mercury. Only one more time will I be able to say I saw a new Planet tonight. I’ll be on that right away.