Observation Report from Backyard 02/08,09/02
Got two clear nights in a row. That might be some kind of record. Had some people over after the club meeting on Fri. There were new members there I invited for some observing. We had a caravan of about 5 cars to my house. Now 7 people on one scope are quite a few. But this was more of a friend’s night out rather than a serious observing session. The sky was OK with a slight cold haze. Saturday, I went to a Charity Auction/Comedy Show. Had a good time, won a bicycle. Got home about 10:30 and set up all by myself. Did about 2-½ hrs. Observing in the cold. I kept fogging up the eyepieces. Had to hold my breath while observing. Did some pretty productive new item hunting.
Friday night we looked at many of the usual Messiers. Open clusters M35, 36, 37, 38 all looking great. Galaxies M81/M82, M65/66, M95/96 all wonderful pairs. M105 is 2 big spots always bright and unmistakable. Then we moved on to some favorites. NGC2392 the Eskimo looked bright and clear. NGC2683 the UFO galaxy very bright and fat in the center. They call it the UFO because it looks like a flying saucer. The pair NGC3190/93 very nice. Two small bright galaxies with sharp points on the sides.
There were many others. The item of the night for the new observers came late. The globular cluster M3 came up over the trees and my tarps about 1:00 AM. Great item! Stars resolving to the core. Not as bright as I’ve seen it, but wait till it gets nice and high. Another globular M53 was visible to. That one is not as bright and doesn’t resolve into as many stars as M3, but still real nice. The galaxy pair NGC4762/54 in Virgo is always one of my favorites. 4762 is one of the sharpest edge-on galaxies I’ve seen. I call it the “Needle”, very sharp points on the edges extending way into the field. 4754 is just a bonus in the same field of view. Those were the highlights from Friday.
Now Saturday night was clearer but very cold. I looked again at many of the favorites but was more interested in new item hunting. Actually I kept going back and forth. Looked for a few new ones, then back for some bright shiny favorites. Like the pair NGC3226/27, looks just like a smaller version of M51 and companion. NGC3098 a real nice edge on streak. Sometimes I couldn’t decide where to look next. With Ursa Major, Come Berenicies, Canes Venatici, Leo and Virgo all in the sky, where do you look next? Messiers M94, M63, M106, M97 & M51 all screaming for attention. NGC4449 I forgot about him. I’ll get to him next time. It’s just incredible how many wonderful items there are out there this time of year. Anyway, I’ll keep you all posted on the better items to look at a few at a time, here’s the new stuff I saw some of which will be making the favorites log book.
NGC4214 – Gal, CV, mag 9.7 dia 7.9 – huge bright galaxy.
NGC2672/73 – gal pair in UM. 2672 is mag 11.7, 2673 is mag 13.3 – This was the first real use of the new Uranometria. I was looking at 2672 when I knew I saw something else in the SFOV. I got out the new book, turned to chart 74, there it was, NGC2673 right next to 72. This was not plotted on the SkyAtlas 2000. The Meade hand control just said coordinates only when I punched it in. The Deep Sky field guide had all the information I needed. I’m real happy I got the Uranometria.
NGC2554 – gal, Leo, mag 14.0, dia 3.1 – I stuck with the Uranometria for a while. This was another plotter there but not in the SkyAtlas. It was just a slightly visible bright area, but there it was. 14th magnitude from my back yard.
NGC2543 – gal, Lynx, mag 13.0 dia 2.3 – a small spot with some haze around it. Very visible for 13th mag.
NGC3277 – gal Leo, mag 11.7, dia 2.0 – very bright center. Much bigger item than the 2.0 might suggest. Really liked this one. I’ll get back to it again for more details.
NGC3430 – gal, Leo, mag 11.5, dia 3.9 – a large dim area seen better with averted vision. Just visible. The light must be evenly distributed on the item. No bright center.
NGC3419 – gal Leo, mag 13.0, dia 2.4 – another small dim spot with some haze to it.
NGC3396/96 – galaxy pair, mag 12.1, 11.9 – again I’ve seen 3396 before but didn’t know 3395 was there till I spotted it in the new book. Nice pair, both oval shaped and tipped toward each other about 45 degrees.
There were many items I couldn’t see, among them were NGC2532 and 3239. I didn’t write them all down. It’s was a productive night since I was out only about 2-½ hrs. I was tried and cold or I could have been out all night. When you start catching the nods and your head hits the eyepiece, it’s time to call it a night. Hope it stays clear this weekend. I have lots to see. Maybe even get to a better sight. Then I’ll be spinning in circles trying to decide what to see next.