Thursday, 15 March 2018

# 119: Auriga Part 2: The Non-NGC Objects

Even though I am engaged in the pursuit of all the northern NGC objects listed in Uranometria, I always check out clusters and such from other catalogues when in the area.  Especially clusters.  There are two many faint planetary nebulae and way too many faint galaxies from other catalogues, but clusters seem to do well with my 12" scope.  Here are all of the non NGC clusters in Auriga, listed in alphabetical order....

oc Bas 4:  Mag. 9.1; 5' 134 *s; Br. * mag. 12.2:  It is easy to locate, south from O Struve 117.  At 136x I observed a pretty bright group of stars in a distinctly linear formation.  Viewed also at 187x and 250x, fainter stars resolve away from this line, which contains very close doubles.  I was pointing very close a 1st quarter moon tonight, so I should return here for a 2nd look in darker skies.

oc Be 14:  6'; 30 *s; Br. * mag. 16:  A very faint cloud was spotted at 187x, with a few stars resolved.  A few more stars showed up at 250x, being somewhat scattered.

oc Be 15:  5'; 35 *s; Br. * mag. 15:  Spotted at 100x, I noted a small, hazy cloud with a few nearby brighter stars.  187x resolves 4-5 stars; 250x shows 10 in a compact area.

oc Be 17:  8'; 100 *s: Br. * mag. 16:  Spotted at 136x, it was a pretty large, faint, indistinct haze.  Though views are better at187x, there is no resolution.  At 200x it appears much like a large, faint galaxy with a brighter centre.  Still no stars.

oc Be 18:  12'; 300 *s; Br. * mag. 16:Located at 136x, I saw a large ball of haze and a few embedded stars.  187x and 200x show from 6-10 stars.  The cluster was best at 250x, with 14 very faint stars resolved.  this is a pretty large group, no doubt awaiting an 18" scope!

oc Be 19:  4'. Vis. mag. 11.4; 150 *s; Br. * mag. 15:  Located at 187x, it appears as a small, very faint hazy ball.  It lies north of 2 notable stars.  It was becoming too windy for higher magnifications, thus I have no resolution to report.

oc Be 69:  4'; Vis. mag. 11.9; Br. * 15:  This is much easier to locate than nearby Do 18.  136x shows shows a hazy patch, small, with 1 star resolved.  At 250x 6-8 very faint stars are seen.

oc Be 70:  7'; 40 *s; Br. * mag. 15:  Located at 136x, a very few faint stars are resolved around a brighter one.  187x resolves 6-8 stars; 250x resolves about 10, all very faint. 

oc Be 71:  5'; 30 *s; Br. * mag. 15:  Observed at 187x and 250x, this cluster is faint and elusive.  The central area was seen at 187x.  Only 2 stars could be resolved at mag. 15 or fainter.  It was mostly just a small, hazy patch best with averted vision.

oc Cr 62:  28'; Vis. mag. 4.2:  This was mostly viewed at 42.5x.  I noted two busy and bright star fields, separated by a mag. 4 star to the north.  The fainter group south preceding the star is circular, and contains about 15 stars.  The second group, which is south following the star, contains about 20 members, randomly scattered.  Many fainter stars were seen within these two groups when viewed at 100x.

oc Cz19:  15'; 50 *s:  Located in the extreme southwest corner of Auriga, I had to star hop here from NGC oc 1746 in Taurus.  It is a large cluster with many stars, but they are quite faint.  There are 4 bright stars on the following (E) edge, 3 of them close together and the 4th one north.  Many faint stars precede them, towards a single bright star, mag. 9? on the preceding end.  250x resolves 25-30 stars.  The cluster is rather tricky to access.

oc Cz 20:  36'; 30 *s:  Viewed at 42.5x this is a very large group containing many bright stars.  While the cluster is noteworthy, there are impressive star fields in all directions, making it a fine area for casual sweeping.  Especially not the following field.  In the south preceding part of the cluster sits NGC oc 1857 (see Auriga, Part 1).

oc Cz 21:  8'; 40 *s:  A moderately large group of very faint stars was seen at 200x, likely mag. 14.5 and fainter.  There are perhaps 15 stars seen.  Somewhat disappointing in a 12" mirror. 

oc Cz 23:  5':  Located at 136x, a small group of resolving stars can be seen following a mag. 10 star.  Views of this dim group are good at 187x, but best at 250x.  About a dozen stars are glimpsed, many of the same mag. (14.5-15.5?).  Worth a peek only with a 12" or higher.

oc Do 15:  18':  At 60x many bright stars are seen amidst a faint group.  The brightest stars form a line.  The preceding end of this line has faint clumps of stars north and south.  At 136x, and especially at 187x the stars are well resolved.  There are about 25 stars.  The bright stars are likely an asterism rather than a true cluster.

oc Do 16:  6'; 10 *s:  There are some scattered bright stars, though nothing obvious as a cluster.  There is a very faint group of about 10-12 stars between two of the brighter groups. 

oc Do 18:  6'; 15 *s:  A hazy, dim cloud was observed at 136x.  At 187x only two stars are resolved.  Overall, the group is indistinct in a 12" mirror.

oc Do 20:  5'; 10 *s;  Observed at 187x, and seen well at this power.  It is an interesting though small group of faint stars immediately north preceding a mag. 9 star.  It is also involved with a scattered group of much brighter stars.  There are at least 10 faint stars, and several much brighter ones nearby. 

oc King 8:  4'; Vis. mag. 11.2; 198 *s; Br. * mag. 15:  Located at 100xm the cluster appears as an oval haze with a very few faint stars resolving.  There is a bright star on the north end, and another on the south end.  Another brighter star is found immediately following the cluster.  At 136x averted vision resolves a sprinkle of faint stars all across the hazy patch.  At 187x and 250x the cluster now extends beyond the north and south border stars.  12-15 stars are resolved, all very faint.  This is an open cluster challenge, but fun to view.  It is very close to M 37.

oc King 17:  5'; 25 *s; Br. * 14:  Spotted at 100x, it was a hazy, tiny ball of faintness.  2 stars were showing.  At 136x about 10 stars are resolved.  It is already a nice object.  187x shows a tiny nest of very faint, glittering jewels.   This is a decent cluster with a 12" scope.

oc Mel. 31:  135'; 35 *s; Br. * mag. 4.5:  This enormous group of bright stars contains many fine doubles, along with 2 IC nebula, an NGC cluster, and oc Do 16!  Sweeping through the area at 42x is a wonderful experience.  8 of the stars are very bright in a 12" scope.  Uncountable numbers of fainter stars lie in the background.  The richest area of brighter stars lies in a northeast-southwest direction, and more than 2x longer than wide, perhaps 90'x 40'.  I hope to revisit with the 2" refractor and 4 1/3" RFT scope!  Most of the bright stars are white, though 16 Aurigae is golden, and 14, a superb double, is yellow and blue!  Use the lowest power available and enjoy the scenery!

oc Skiff jO458.2 +4301:  4'; Br. * mag. 10.5:  Noted at 100x, it is easier to spot than Be 14, close by.  A small but distinct haze was noted.  At 136x 2 or 3 stars resolve.  187x shows 4 or 5 members, while 250x shows 8 stars, all very faint.  there is still unresolved haze.  It is not yet known if this is a true cluster.

oc Skiff j0507.2+3050:  6'; Br. * 10.8:  Viewed at 136x and 187x, I saw an east-west elongated group of 10-12 stars, situated between 2 brighter stars.  The group is north preceding a wide pair of bright stars aligned north/south. Its status as an actual cluster is still in some doubt.

oc St 8:  15'; 40 *s; Br. * mag. 9:  The cluster is involved with NGC gn I. 417 (see Auriga, part 1).  It is located near a bright golden star (24 Aurigae).  At 100x the field is filled with bright and beautiful stars, with wispy puffs of nebula interspersed. 

oc St 10:  25'; 15 *s:  Observed well at 60x.  9 stars are plotted on Uranometria, including a double.  The cluster is very large, and includes 5 very bright stars, with 3 in the north and 2 in the south.  About 40 stars are in the group, though most of these are faint.  An interesting faint group lies immediately preceding the bright pair of stars in the south.  The cluster is attractive at low power, and suitable for small apertures.

eg UGC 3273:  3' x 0'.9:  Vis. 14.2; SB 15.1:  A very dim oval haze was seen amidst a few foreground stars. 

This completes my deep sky study of Auriga.  Clear skies!
Mapman Mike  

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

#118: Auriga Part 1--The NGC Objects

I recently completed all of the NGC and IC objects in Auriga with my 12" Orion Dob.  The project began  in early December, 2016, and concluded in early March 2018.

oc 1664:  18'; Vis. mag. 7.6; 101 *s; Br. * mag. 10:  This cluster is appealing and easy to identify.  It was located at 60x, and also viewed well at 100x and 136x.  Many stars appear similar in magnitude.  About 50 stars appear in a sting-ray shape, with a tail of stars behind.  It also reminded me of a kite with a tail string attached. A bright star appears at the south end.  Worth a look!

oc 1724:  1':  This is not exactly a showpiece.  The asterism consists of 3 stars in a tight triangle, when viewed at 60x, 100x, and 136x.  One of those NGC non-objects!
DSO Browser
  oc 1778:  8'; Vis. mag. 7.7; 112 *s; Br. * mag. 10.1:  At 60x I noted many bright stars in a rectangular shape.  136x resolves about 50 stars, including a lovely close, bright double (with two fainter stars also close by).  The star is H. 3265, lying just north of the cluster's centre.  The cluster's 20 brightest stars make this worth a journey for all apertures.
DSO Browser

oc 1790:  15'; 8 *s:  It was spotted at 60x, but seen best at 136x.  There are 20 stars in the area, with 8 of them being brighter.  They precede a bright star and continue to extend west.  Not really much to see, and likely an asterism. 
 DSO Browser

oc 1798:  5'; Vis. mag. 10; 50 stars, Br. * mag. 13:  Firstly, a few comments on the published stats.  The cluster is much fainter then Mag. 10.  The brightest star is mag. 15, not 13.  The 13 mag. star is there, but it is obviously not a cluster member.  This is a very challenging group to locate, and even harder to resolve.  At 100x I noted a very, very faint, round haze (mag. 14?).  At 136x I saw a few stars of mag. 15 and fainter.  250x resolves about 15 stars.  This group likely requires an 18" scope to fully appreciate.
 DSO Browser

oc 1857:  10'; Vis. mag. 7; 40 *s;  Br. * mag. 11:  A mag. 7 star sits near the centre of the cluster, but the other members are pretty faint.  This bright star is a deep, rich yellow in colour.  The fainter members are dimmed by the glare of the bright star, but even so 60x easily identified it as the cluster.  100x shows many tiny and faint stars.  136x resolves the group more fully, with lines of stars intersecting.  At least 40 stars can be counted at 187x.  This is a decent cluster with a 12" scope.
 DSO Browser

oc 1883:  5'; Vis. mag. 12.5; 30 *s; Br. * 14:  Located at 60s, the cluster was small, faint, and hazy.  There is a bright star on the south end.  At 100x there is some resolution.  A line of stars is noted on the north end, with the bright star located immediately south.  The cluster is moderately rich at 187x and 200x.  At 250x about 25 stars are seen, all of them faint.  The cluster is a challenge, but worth it with a 12" scope!
 DSO Browser

oc 1893:  25'; Vis. mag. 7.5; 270 *s; Br. * mag. 9.3:  I managed to get about halfway through my exploration of this fine cluster when dampness finally shut me down for the night.  I observed mostly at 60x and 100x, where I noticed two wings of bright stars.  These areas were pretty dense with bright stars, with a wide area between them with very few stars.  The north wing seems richer and brighter than the south wing.  At 136x the area between is now much richer in stars, filling up with faint ones.  The north wing has nice doubles and triples.
 DSO Browser

oc 1896:  20'; 25 *s; Br. * mag. 8.5:  Located at 60x, the status of this as an actual cluster is in doubt.  It appears as a group of bright stars nestled amongst 4 brighter stars, but open on one end.  At 136x I saw 16 stars in the compact central area.  One segment has an arrowhead shape to it. 
 DSO Browser

oc 1907:  5'; Vis. mag. 8.2; 113 *s; Br. * mag. 11:  At 60x the cluster is small but resolving.  It was viewed successfully up to 250x.  It looked to me like a tent, with slanted lines of stars forming the basic shape, and most of the stars grouped within this A-frame.  It is an easy hop from here to M 38, so it is worth a look, especially with a larger aperture (8" or higher).  It is fun to cruise back and forth, this being a good example of a distant cluster (1907) and a much nearer one (M 38).
DSO Browser

oc 1912--Messier 38:  15'; Vis. mag. 6.4; 160 *s; Br. * mag. 8:  This is a showpiece cluster in virtually all apertures.  It is awfully bright in a 12" mirror.  I observed it at 60x, 83x, and 100x, where it appears as an explosion of bright stars, well over 100 altogether.  100x begins to show many fainter ones.  At 136x starless areas are noted.  The cluster is very large, but it has several of these dark areas.At this range the brightest stars appear quite scattered.  The centre is more or less oval, and pretty dark, with only a few faint stars showing.  It also seems to have an H-shape to it, with an extra line of stars crossing between the legs.
M 38

gn/oc 1931:  gn = 4' x 4' (emission):  oc = 6'; Vis. mag. 10.1; 20 *s:  This is an easy hop from M 36, just preceding it.  This is a strange little object.  Though it is a nebula amongst a small, tight open cluster, it looks like unresolved star haze at first.  The cluster is tightly packed, resembling a close multiple star.  In fact, H 367 lies amidst the haze and has 5 members, mag. 11, 12, 12.8, 14, and 15.  This agrees with what I saw, with the nebula spread amongst them, being especially bright near the 3 main stars.  I expected a richer cluster.  the overall effect is of a bright, fuzzy object with a few stars embedded.

oc 1960--Messier 36:  10'; Vis. mag. 6; 60 *s; Br. * mag. 9.  Though I have observed M 36 in Space Eye, my 2" refractor, and have also seen it in Deb's 6" reflector, this marks my first official observation with the 12" scope.  I never did see it in the Tasco 4.5" reflector, or my old Edmund 8" reflector.  In a 12" mirror, the cluster is large, filled with bright stars, and has a spidery appearance.  Numerous lines of bright stars pass through the dense centre and beyond.  There is a rectangular extension to the north, and a more jumbled one preceding.  At 83x and 100x, many fainter stars appear, resolving behind the brighter ones.  This tends to provide a 3-D effect for the viewer.  At 136x well over 100 stars are seen.  There is a very rich central area surrounding a bright double star (Struve 737:  8.5-9/11"), which soon becomes a triple.  It then shows another fainter member, further out.  This is a showpiece cluster, worth much observing time.  With over 30 bright star members, M 36 is a fun object for virtually all small apertures.  For larger ones, it is an amazing sight!

gn 1985:  0'.7; Vis. mag. 13:  It took some hunting to confirm the sighting of this possible reflection nebula.  It was located at 136x, and confirmed at 187x.  It was very small, pretty faint, and either oval or rectangular.  The centre was stellar, or perhaps a mag. 13 or 14 star.  Though it can be seen well at 200x, it is small and faint.

oc 2013:  8 *s; Br. * mag. 11:  There are two small but bright groups north preceding a white star of mag. 8.5.  The first group has 4 stars, 2 being bright.  The 2nd group, further out, is somewhat roundish, with 5 stars.  There is dark sky between the two groups.

oc 2099--Messier 37:  15'; Vis. mag. 5.6; 1842 *s; Br. * mag. 11:  The cluster resolves at 60x, and is highly attractive at 83x.  First impressions are the similarities between it and oc 7789 in Cassiopeia. M 37 is perhaps a bit brighter.  M 37 consists of a dense and very rich central area, surrounded by more widely scattered groupings, especially preceding.  100x and 136x show hundreds of stars, mostly in the dense middle area.  Many stars appear to be similar in magnitude.  With 187x on the central area, the cluster is stunning!  There appears to be the outline of a shamrock in the very centre, along with many dark areas.  This is a rich cluster, one of the finest in the heavens, and not to be missed! 

oc 2126:  6'; Vis. mag. 10.2; 40 *s; Br. * mag. 13:  Not too bad in a 12" mirror, even from a suburban back yard.  Located at 60x south preceding a very bright and intrusive white star.  A sprinkling of very faint stars was noted.  At 100x and 136x the cluster is moderately rich, though pretty scattered.  187x resolves a dozen stars despite the white star in the field.  I had a chance to view this from a dark sky a few nights later, and can recommend it with a 12".  About 20 stars can be easily seen.

oc 2165:  6'; 15 *s; Br. * mag. 10:  Viewed at 60x, 100x, and 136x.  There were 17 stars, about half of them being pretty bright.  They were pretty scattered.  This may not be a true cluster.

oc 2192:  5'; Vis. mag. 10.9; 45 *s; Br. * mag. 14:  This is one of my favourite type of clusters in a 12" scope!  I first viewed it at 83x, where a group to the south made the cluster seem pretty large.  It was already resolving.  Nice views were had at 136x, where the cluster appears faint but moderately rich.  It lies just south of a mag. 7.5 star.  Good views were had at 187x, and it is still resolving at 250x.  About 25 faint stars can be counted with some difficulty, making this a nice group to observe at higher powers.  There is a very small, very dense group preceding the main central area, just on the boundary edge.

eg 2208:  1'.7 x 1':  Vis. 12.8; SB 13.2:  It was spotted at 100x!  Every constellation must have at least one NGC galaxy!  This one is fairly bright in a 12" scope at 136x.  At 200x a very bright center was noted.  Easy to find, so give it a try!  

pn 2242:  22"; Mag. 15; Cent. * mag. 17.6:  This is tricky to find properly, since at most powers it was stellar.  However, at 272x a bit of fuzz makes it seem like an unfocused star.  Disappointing.

oc 2281:  25'; Vis. mag. 5.4; 119 stars; Br. * mag. 8:  Located at 60x, it is big and bright, and found near 2 bright stars, a mag. 7 star north and a mag. 8 one north preceding.  I have nicknamed this the "Lasso Cluster," as it has an elongated oval pattern of stars that point towards the 7 mag. star.  The central area is denser and somewhat diamond shaped at 100x and 136x, where more than 40 stars can now be counted overall.  The south end is sparse.  Uranometria shows the 5 brightest stars, one of them double (within the diamond shape).  This is a rewarding cluster.

eg 2303:  1'.5 x 1'.5:  Vis. 12.6; SB 13.4:  This moderately bright galaxy was not a problem from my suburban back deck.  It was directly overhead, which helped.  It was near threshold, not large, and sat amidst a wide triangle of bright stars.

gn I. 405:  30' x 20'  (emission and reflection):  This is the famous Flaming Star Nebula, a wonderful sight in long exposures.  I viewed it at 60x with a Skyglow filter and without one.  This is a very poor object visually.  Very poor.  It is easier to "not" see the nebula, by finding where background stars appear to be missing. 

gn I. 410:  40' x 30' (emission):  I saw some definite wisps with the Skyglow filter and medium power (136x), mostly around the double star (Struve 687). 

gn I. 417:  13' x 10' (emission):  Observed at 100x, the field is strewn with a beautiful and bright field of stars (this oc St. 8--see my write up in Auriga Part 2).  Wispy, nebulous patches are interspersed, especially following a bright double star, and again north of it.  There is also a notable absence of stars in one area.

pn I. 2149:  34"; Vis. mag. 10.6; Cent. * mag. 11.5:  The object is very bright in a 12" scope, though it appears stellar at 60x.  At 100x it is bluish, and at 136x it appears like a bright but unfocused star.  At 187x and 250x it seems pretty large, with a very bright center, and then a smaller area of fainter haze surrounding that.  It also appears oval at higher power. 

eg I. 2175:  1'.6 x 0'.8:  Vis. 13.9; SB 14:  When you look this object up on most lists, including my Orion computer, you are told that the object consists of 2 stars in Gemini.  However, and Uranometria lists it as a galaxy, and in a different position (preceding the two stars).  Anyway, I saw it at 250x, just south preceding an annoying star of 8.6 mag.  The galaxy was faint and oval, and seen only with averted vision.  It sits just north of the border with Gemini.

This completes the NGC report on Auriga.  Clear skies!
Mapman Mike

Saturday, 27 January 2018

#117: Winter 2018

 The beginning of a new year is usually a good time to both reflect on the past year and its achievements, and to look ahead and set some reasonable goals for the upcoming year.  In 2016, I made it my goal to get out and observe on every clear night I could.  For my galaxy observing I require nearly pristine, dry skies.  So to compensate for Essex County skies, I needed many different types of objects that could be observed at Hallam if under less than perfect conditions.  It was a good year for planets; I also did some remarkable double star work, and I even got back into lunar observing.  I managed to observe on 72 different nights in 2016.  By comparison, 2017 saw me under the stars only 34 times.  Had my goals changed?  Not by much.  I missed the April dark sky session because of travel plans, and ended up missing three good nights as a result.  Even so, the weather last year was often less than ideal for astronomers.  Was it just one of those years?  I hope so.  If I could make one wish upon a falling star, it would be for more frequent clear nights (not counting those beautifully clear nights around a full moon!).

While January is a great time to look back on the year’s notes, and to plan new observing goals, it is often a terrible time to be outside setting up a big scope.  The nights in deep winter are often more suitable for naked eye and binocular observing than for any telescopic work.  It is also a great time for some armchair astronomy.  I like pulling out my old Olcott book and glancing through it near a warm indoor wood fire.

William T. Olcott, in his Field Book of the Skies, divided the night sky into seasonal work.  His winter constellations include Taurus, Orion, Lepus, Canis Major, Monoceros, and Eridanus.  Using a telescope I have completed observations of   NGC and other deep sky objects in Taurus, Lepus, and Monoceros.  My clipboard is now prepared for Orion, and includes a grueling list of 178 winter objects.  However, before trying to navigate outside with freezing toes and fingers using my 12” Dob, it is always a good idea to explore some of the constellation with naked eye and 8 x 35 binoculars first. 

It is not surprising how many sky-watching novices think that stars are only white.  When colourful stars are presented, it can be an astonishing revelation for them.  Comparing Rigel and Betelgeuse with the unaided eye, a difference in colour is apparent.  However, using binoculars the difference is much more astounding.  If you are showing the orange and red star to a beginner, you might also make mention of Professor Michelson (1852-1931).  A number of interesting facts can be mentioned regarding this American physicist (born in modern-day Poland).  He was the first American to win a Nobel Prize in the sciences, for one thing.  His main work was in refining measurements of the speed of light.  However, it was his work in interferometry that brings his name into Olcott’s book, in conjunction with the star Betelgeuse.  This star became the first one, other than our Sun, to have its diameter measured (in 1920-21). Michelson’s interferometer design is still in use today at major observatories. Incidentally, Betelgeuse is 1.64 billion km in diameter. Our sun, by comparison, is 1.39 million km.  But wait, there’s more!   In popular culture, no less a man than Ben Cartwright helped Michelson get his career started.  In the “Look To The Stars” episode of Bonanza, broadcast in 1962, the 16 year old budding scientist (played by actor Douglas Lambert) is aided in his struggle for admission to the US Naval Academy by the Cartwrights.  Michelson did live in Nevada at that time in his life!  The episode can be watched on Youtube.

Now it’s time for a look at the Great Nebula.  Though it presents a distinctive mystery to the naked eye, in binoculars the mystery at least becomes a more beautiful one.  I have trouble with the trapezium star in hand-held binoculars, but with a steady hand the area makes for fun sweeping.  Olcott suggests that it was a Swiss Jesuit by the name of Cysatus, in 1618, who made the first report on the nebula.  His full name was Johann Baptist Cysat (c. 1587-1657), and his main interest as an astronomer was in observing comets.  He was one of the first to make astronomical and scientific use of a telescope.  Even in 1804 his descriptions of comets were still among the best available.  Here is Cysat’s brief description of the Great Nebula:

Another of these phenonmenon in the heavens is the congeries of stars at the last star of the Sword of Orion, for there one can find a similar congestion of some stars in a very narrow space, and all around and in between the stars themselves is a diffused light like a radiant white cloud.”

We actually suspect now that the first notated observation was in 1610, by Nicholas Peiresc, though he was silent on the nebula afterwards.  Surprisingly Galileo did not mention it in his early observations of 1609 and 1610, though he did map the stars of Orion.  Over the years hundreds of descriptions have come down to us.  I will leave this topic with Olcott’s own description:

“…The nebula is a stupendous mass of gas in a state of violent agitation, a gigantic whirlpool.  Even when viewed with an opera or field glass the star Theta Orionis appears to be enveloped in a haze which indicates the presence of the great nebula which is a glorious and wonderful sight in a large telescope.  Words fail to describe its beauty.”

Oddly enough Olcott goes on to describe the Horsehead Nebula in the unaided eye and field glass section of his Orion section.  The Belt stars, where we will finish up our cold winter’s night viewing, point in one direction towards Aldebaran in Taurus, and in the other down towards Sirius in Canis Major.  There is fine sweeping in those areas, too.  From bottom to top the belt stars are Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, all around 2nd magnitude.  These stars have attracted attention since the dawn of human sky gazing.  The Orion correlation theory holds that there is a correlation between the three largest Egyptian pyramids and the three belt stars in Orion.  That itself is worthy of some future Aurora article, and certainly worth a casual mention at a winter star party.

Wishing everyone clear skies in 2018!
Mapman Mike

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

#116 Hercules NGC Project Part 10: Uranometria Charts 35, 34

If you have been following my progress on the reporting of all the NGC objects in Hercules (along with a few IC galaxies, and objects from other catalogues), you can see that it was an enormous undertaking.  Consider that my temperate zone location amidst The Great Lakes of Canada and the USA means that clear nights are pretty rare.  In a good two-week session there might be 3 nights suitable for faint galaxy work.  I am just finishing up the November observing session, and it has been one of the worst in recent memory.  I've only had 3 hours of good skies, and managed a mere trickle of progress in Cetus.  This is the final report on Hercules.  I have finished observing Pegasus also, but at the moment I don't have the time or energy to report on it here.  But it will come.

Uranometria Chart 35 

eg I. 1144:  1' x 0'.6:  Vis. 13.5; SB 12.8:  This galaxy is at the east end of Bootes and west edge of Hercules.  Spotted at 136x, it was also observed at 187x and 250x.  It is small, pretty bright, and very oval.  Although easily visible it is a ghostly object, best seen with averted vision.  200x gives a decent view also.

eg 6013:  1'.3 x 0'.8:  Vis. 13.6; SB 13.5:  Spotted at 136x, it was large, faint, and elongated.  187x gives a good view of the oval haze.  It is pretty large.  250x shows a brighter center, but the rest is fading.

pn 6058:  40";  Vis. 12.9; SB 13.9:  Viewed previously with the 8" from the back deck at home in 1992!  It was not that impressive back then, and I did not have a Skyglow filter.  With the 12" I viewed it at 60x and on up to 375x.  Without the filter the central star is easily visible, but the nebula is not as impressive.  I had lovely views at 250x and 272x with the filter on.  It seems oval at high power, and somewhat mottled.  It is a very bright object, evenly lit except for the mottling effect.  This makes a nice change from faint galaxies.

eg 6154:  2'.1 x 2':  Vis. 12.7; SB 14.1:  Located at 100x using averted vision.  At 136x it is much easier to see.  It is pretty large.  187x gives a good view.  The center is now brighter, and averted vision begins to show its full size.  250x shows a stellar core amidst the bright central area.  Averted vision gives good glimpses of a much larger object than seen with direct vision.

eg 6155:  1'.3 x 0'.9:  Vis./SB 12.3:  Spotted at 60x.  At 100x it was oval and bright.  Located just north preceding double star Cbl 64.  At 136x the galaxy is very faint, very oval, and very close to the double (9.5-12.4/31").  At 187x 6155 becomes pretty bright, large, and oval.  At 250x and 272x views are still very good, especially with averted vision.  There is a stellar core.

eg 6159:  1'.4 x 1':  Vis. 14.2; SB 14.4:  Easily seen at 136x (it was a fine night), the galaxy was a large oval, not too faint.  At 187x it is pretty large, moderately bright, and shows a stellar core.  Views improve at 200x, with many faint stars in the field.  Afterwards it could be seen at 100x.

gc 6229:  4'.5; Vis. 9.4; Br. * mag. 15.5:  Spotted at 60x and 100x, it forms the apex of a stunning triangle with two bright white stars (Mag. 8, 8.5).  The texture of the globular cluster is mottled at 100x.  AT 187x a few outliers are resolved.  At 250x, 272x, and especially 375x, resolution is fair.  There are clumps and knots of stars near the uneven centre.  This is a very bright object, and pretty large.  A 16" scope would likely resolve it more fully.

eg 6239:  2'.6 x 1'.1:  Vis. 12.4; SB 13.4:  Spotted at 60x, it was large, very elongated, and ghostly.  100x and 136x give much better views, and it is now larger and brighter.  Averted vision shows the full extent of the galaxy.  At 187x and 200x it continues to be very bright, especially the central area.  250x gives the best view.  The elongation runs E/W.  There is a very faint star north.  In the 8" from Lake Penage, this was a tough object to locate.

eg 6241:  1' x 0'.8:  Vis. 16.2; SB 15.8 (elsewhere it's 15.2 and 14.8):  The first set of specs given came from Uranometria.  They are obviously wrong by a magnitude.  The 2nd set given in brackets comes from the now defunct website "Night Sky Atlas."  Celigman gives mag. 15; DSO gives 14.2.  Anyhoo, using a hand-drawn pinpoint map (using DSO Browser) this was an easy object at 136x, and very obvious at 187x.  It was round, pretty large, and an easy (!) object to locate.  It lies in a very dark region of the sky, with no nearby bright stars.  At 200x and 250x it is a ghostly but decent object to observe.

Uranometria Chart #34 

eg 6279:  1'.1 x 1'.1:  Vis./SB 13.6:  A near twin to 6283 (see just below), they make an interesting contrast with one another.  Spotted at 100x, even at 136x I needed averted vision to properly see it.  It is a bit fainter than 6283, no doubt because of the brighter star field.  Views are better at 187x.  The galaxy is located south preceding a pair of fairly bright stars.  250x shows a bright center, much smaller than the whole.

eg 6283:  1'.1 x 1'.1:  Vis./SB 13.5:  Spotted at 100x, it resembles a ghostly planetary nebula.  Views are good at 136x.  The galaxy is round, large and pretty bright.  At 187x views are much better, with a bright middle section showing clearly.  Views are still good at 250x.  A double star is south preceding, with a faint companion.

eg 6301:  1'.8 x 1'.1:  Vis. 13.3; SB 14:  Viewed at 100x, 136x, and 187x.  It precedes a star of mag. 11.5.  The galaxy is small and very ghostly, likely only the central area is seen.  The envelope is very faint, and even the 11 mag. star helps hide it.

eg 6311:  1'.1 x 1':  Vis. 13.5; SB 13.7:  The galaxy can be glimpsed at 100x, but it is much easier to see at 136x.  It sits between 2 bright stars just following an imaginary line between them.  187x shows it as round, pretty large, and still quite a good object for visual observation.

eg 6312:  0'.7 x 0'.7:  Vis. 14.2; SB 13.3:  I took a stab at this one and got lucky, spotting it at 136x.  It was pretty fair at 187x, but small and faint.  250x shows a stellar core, but the galaxy overall is still small and faint.

eg 6313:  1'.3 x 0'.4:  Vis. 13.9; SB 13:  Spotted at 136x, following a faint double star.  At 187x it is an obvious slash.  Views are very good at 250x.  However, the best view was at 272x!  Here it was bright, very extended, appearing as a long slash with a wider middle.

eg 6320:  1'.2 x 0'.8:  Vis. 13.9; SB 13.7:  This very faint, very oval galaxy was picked up at 136x.  A very faint star is on the south end.  Viewed at 187x, 200x, and 250x.  Though not small, it is somewhat tricky to spot.

eg 6323:  1'.1 x 0'.4:  Vis. 13.9; SB 12.9:  Spotted at 100x and 136x, it was a very ghostly, wide slash.  Observed well at 187x and 250x, it was faint but easy to view with averted vision.  It is just south following a faint star.  The galaxy is extended nicely, but more oval as opposed to a longer, skinny slash.  It is just north preceding eg 6329.

eg 6327:  0'.4 x 0'.4:  Vis. 14.9; SB 12.7:  29 was spotted at 100x, being large, round (though
eg 6329:  1'.8 x 1'.8:  Vis. 12.8; SB 14.1:  flaring), and pretty bright.  Up to 250x was used with good results, showing a bright  galaxy.  It has a bright central area.  27 was spotted at 136x with averted vision, between 2 faint stars.  Though tiny, it was easy to view at 187x and 250x.

eg 6332:  1'.6 x 0'.8:  Vis. 13.6; SB 13.7:  Noticed at 100x, it was oval and pretty faint.  136x and 187x provide very good views.  It is obvious, though fainter than eg 6329.  It is very elongated, pointing towards the brightest star in a nearby small framing asterism.  6329 is immediately preceding, and a tiny bit north.  Both can be seen together at high power.

eg 6336:  0'.9 x 0'.7:  Vis. 13.2; SB 12.9:  One of 5 NGC galaxies in the M 92 group.  It was spotted at 100x with averted vision, being faint, small and round.  It is much easier to see at 136x and 187x.  It is located just north of a mag. 10 star.  At 250x the galaxy is fading, though still quite visible.  It now appears slightly oval.

eg 6339:  2'.9 x 1'.7:  Vis. 12.7; SB 14.3:  Viewable at 100x and 136x, it is very large and very faint.  It is really faint at 200x, but large and oval, showing a somewhat brighter center.

gc 6341--Messier 92:  14';  Vis. 6.5; Br. star 12.1:  This is a fabulous cluster in an 8" scope.  Anything bigger is a wonderful bonus!  Way back in the day of my Tasco 4.5" mirror, I use to yearn for the capability to resolve globulars into tiny stars, trying to imagine what the effect would look like.  I could not have imagined it in my wildest dreams!  In the 12" at 60x stars were resolved all across the object.  At 100x, M 92 is not as large or rich as M 13, being about a third smaller and a magnitude fainter.  However, the brightest stars are almost as bright as in M 13.  Though there are fewer stars, and they are more scattered, 136x still offers a superb view of a breathtaking and rich object.  Many outliers are resolving, in addition to stars right in the core.  At 187x and 200x the outlier area is rich with resolved stars, especially to the north and south of center.  The effect is similar to wings on a moth with a very bright head.  250x gives an outstanding view, with core detail emerging.  At 272x I had really good views, especially of the wings.  At 375x the core has broken into two halves, north and south, and is mostly resolved.

eg 6343:  1'.1 x 1'.1:  Vis./Sb 13.9:  Though spotted at 100x, this galaxy was much better at 136x.  It is round and has a bright center.  At 187x is it now moderately faint, but still easy to see.  It lies south of 2 bright stars that point in its general direction.

eg 6348:  0'.7 x 0'.6:  Vis. 14.4; SB 13.3:  48 was spotted at 187x, south preceding 50.  It is very
eg 6350:  1' x 1':  Vis. 13.2; SB 13.3:   small, very faint, and round.  50 was an easy object at 100x, being round, bright, and pretty large.

eg 6363:  1'.1 x 0'.9:  Vis. 13.3; SB 13.2:  The final galaxy I saw in my comprehensive NGC study of Hercules!  It was a pretty "normal" galaxy, too.  Suspected at 100x, it was confirmed at 136x.  It is seen well at 187x, being oval now with a stellar core.  A faint star is south following.

I. 1262:  1'.2 x 0'.6:  Vis.13.7; SB 13.3:  Both galaxies were observed at 136x, 187x, and 250x.    
I. 1263:  1'.7 x 0'.7:  Vis. 13.7; SB 14.2:  They both fit into all three eyepiece fields.  They are both faint, but 62 appears both brighter and larger.  63 is a very faint and long oval, immediately preceding a pair of bright stars.  62 is located just south of 63.

I. 1265: 2' x 0'.9:  Vis. 12.3; SB 12.8:  Spotted at 100x and 136x, it is large, faint, and oval.  Seen well with averted vision, it seemed best at 187x.  Here it is quite large.  200x shows it steadily with direct vision, though faint.  It is beginning to fade in this range.

eg 6443:  1'.2 x 0'.5:  Vis. 13.8; SB 13.1:  Spotted at 100x and 136x with averted vision.  It is cigar shaped, an elongated but wide slash.  It is pretty faint.  At 187x views are considerably better, though still using averted vision.  250x shows the galaxy steadily with direct vision, though it is pretty faint.  It sits amidst a triangle of very faint stars.

eg 6524:  1'.3 x 1':  Vis. 12.8; SB 13:  Spotted at 100x, it was oval and bright at 136x.  187x increases the size and brightness.  The galaxy is preceding a group of stars in the form of a backwards check mark.  A bright center is noted.  250x provides good, steady views, now showing a stellar core, along with a bright middle.  It is also pretty large in this range.

eg 6560:  1'.2 x 0'.8:  Vis. 13.6; SB 13.4:  First spotted at 250x, south of a 10.4 mag. star with a bright companion.  It just precedes a bright asterism of stars.  Once located, views were also good at 187x and 200x.  It is oval, pretty large, and pretty faint (I only had fair transparency at this point of the night).  It was a poor object at 136x, after viewing it at high powers.

eg 6582:  0'.6 x 0'.6:  Vis. 13.9; SB 12.9:  Again this was located first at 250x, after a pretty good educated guess as to its exact location.  It was then observed at 187x, then lastly at 136x.  Though very small at lower power, it was not too small for observing at 187x and 250x.  It is round, very ghostly, and averted vision gives the best view.

This concludes my NGC observing notes for HerculesNext summer I will begin to view several pages of double stars here, as well as search for some UGC and IC objects.  Still to come in this series is the complete guide to Pegasus NGC objects, whenever I get the time and energy.  After that, I will likely be finished Auriga and will report on that.  In the Spring I will conclude observing the NGC objects in Bootes, and then report on those.  I hope you have enjoyed your visits.  If I have omitted an NGC object from the Uranometria charts, please drop me a line to let me know.

Clear skies!

Mapman Mike  

Monday, 20 November 2017

#115 Hercules NGC Project Part 9: Uranometria Charts 50, 49

Uranometria Chart #50

Note that the right hand side of the chart is dealt with on the Chart 51 page.

oc DoDz 6:  3'.5; 5 *s; Br. * mag.8.8:  Observed at 60x and 100x.  It is a 5-star asterism, and non too exciting.

eg 6255:  3'.6 x 1'.5:  Vis. 12.7; SB 14.4:  Far from being a showpiece object (and far from being visual mag. 12.7), this one is fun to locate anyway.  It seems closer to mag. 14, it's large size likely makes it too faint for smaller apertures.  In the 12" it was seen at 100x.  It is very large, very oval, and very faint.  At 136x the center is brighter, and it is even larger overall.  At 187x it is fading, but a few stars involved can now be seen.

eg 6257:  0'.8 x 0'.3:  Vis. 15.1; SB 13.4:  These really faint galaxies can wear you down if they are not spaced out with brighter objects.  This was my 2nd one of the night, after only 3 objects viewed.  Luckily, a pinpoint hand-drawn map got me right to the scene, with a northwest/southeast line of 4 stars pinpointing the location.  Glimpsed at times with averted vision at 250x and 272x.  It is very faint and elongated.

eg 6274:  0'.6; 0'.5:   Vis. 13.8; SB 12.3:  Using a detailed, hand-drawn map, the main galaxy was
eg 6274A:  0'.7 x 0'.2:  Vis./SB ??:   spotted at 136x.  It was round and not difficult to see.  Views were decent at 187x.  At 272x, 74A was glimpsed as a tiny add-on, non-stellar, with averted vision.  It seemed an extension to the south following end of the main galaxy.  I never would have noted this unless I knew exactly what I was looking for beforehand.

eg 6282:  0'.7 x 0'.5:  Vis. 14.4; SB 13.1:  Located south following eg 6274, I used the same detailed chart as above (I use dso-browser).  136x actually gave a pretty good view.  The galaxy is oval, faint, but distinct.  A very faint star is  following.

eg 6330:  1'.4 x 0'.5:  Vis. 14; SB 13.5:  Viewed at 136x and 187x, the galaxy is small, faint, and very oval.  I managed a sketch, though.

eg 6349:  0'.8 x 0'.2:  Vis. 14.3; SB 12.2:  After some searching I located 49 at 136x.  At 187x both
eg 6351:  0'.2 x 0'.2:  Vis. 15.2; SB 13.5:  galaxies can be seen!  At 200x and 250x a very small, faint slash can be seen, with the smaller haze just following, mingled with a faint star or two.


eg 6364:  1'.5 x 1'.2:  Vis. 12.9; SB13.4:  Viewed at 136x, 187x, and 250x.  The galaxy has a bright, stellar core.  The envelope of haze surrounding it is small and quite faint.  There is a nearby faint star, north.

eg 6367:  0'.8 x 0'.7:  Vis. 14.2; SB 13.5:  Conveniently located near a mag. 8 star, it was glimpsed at 100x and showing a stellar core.  Transparency was improving!  It was small but pretty bright at 136x.  187x shows a small, round, and pretty bright galaxy.  250x with averted vision shows it larger now, but fading a bit.

eg 6433:  2' x 0'.5:  Vis. 13.3; SB 13.1:  Another good guess showed this one as a long slash, and pretty faint.  At 136x it is still a weak object.  187x shows a large, very elongated galaxy with a brighter, wide middle.  250x gives very good views with averted vision.  At 272x the galaxy is long, though starting to fade.

eg 6446:  0'.7 x 0'.6:  Vis. 15.2; SB 14.1:  47 was spotted at 100x, being oval, housing a bright
eg 6447:  1'.6 x 0'.9:  Vis. 12.8; SB 13.1:  middle, and showing a stellar core.  187x gives a good view with averted vision, and 46 can now be glimpsed preceding the main galaxy.  It was quite small, faint, round with a stellar core.  Both objects were best at 200x.  A triple star system south following was noteworthy, but very faint.

eg 6485:  1'.5 x 1'.4:  Vis. 12.9; SB 13.6:  Spotted at 136x, south preceding a 9.5 mag. star.  187x shows a bright object, pretty large, with a stellar core.  Though listed as round, it appears to flare to oval with averted vision.  250x shows a very bright center.  It is large and now looking pretty round.
eg 6486:  0'.8 x 0'.8:  Vis. 14.3; SB 13.9:  87 is easy to spot at 100x, and 86 pops out at 136x.  Both
eg 6487:  1'.8 x 1'.8:  Vis. 11.9; SB 13.1:  galaxies are seen well at 187x and 250x.  There are stellar cores on both.  86 is noticeably smaller and fainter, but still quite easy to spot with averted vision, in the same field with 87.

UGC 11017:  1'.2 x 0'.7:  Vis. 13.9; SB 13.6:  Located without difficulty at 187x, it is large, oval, and pretty bright with averted vision.  It is located just following a mag. 10 star, and precedes eg 6486 and 6487.

eg 6504:  2'.2 x 0'.5:  Vis/SB 12.6:  Spotted at 60x!  There is a stellar core seen at 100x, and the galaxy is bright and elongated.  At 136x and 187x it is very large with averted vision.  It is very bright now.  It was viewed well at 250x and 272x, and even at 375x.  It is now very long, very extended, and still very bright.  Easy to locate, it lies along the base of a bright stellar triangle.  A nice catch in a 12" scope!

Uranometria Chart 49 

oc DoDz 9:   28'; 15*s:  At 60x this is a big and bright, very loose cluster, pretty rich in bright stars.  There is a milky haze in the background.  83x fills the eyepiece with bright stars, like a fireworks explosion!  This is a decent object in a 12", and likely in an 8" one, too.

eg I. 1277:  1'.2 x 0'.9:  Vis. 13.4; SB 13.3:  This galaxy is small and faint at 136x, and begins to fade away at 187x.  A pair of bright double stars separate it from eg 6575 (see below).

eg 6575:  1'.7 x 1'.3:  Vis. 12.4; SB 13.2:  The galaxy is round and bright at 136x, and very easy to see.  2 faint stars zigzag from it, pretty close.  At 187x views are very good, and the galaxy appears slightly oval.  250x also gives good views.

eg I. 1279:  2'.6 x 0'.6:  Vis. 13.5; SB 13.8:  Seen at 136x and confirmed at 187x, it appeared as a faint, large oval.  It precedes 3 stars that curve around it.  200x and 250x give occasional glimpses of a very long, faint needle galaxy.

eg 6585:  1'.9 x 0'.4:  Vis. 12.9; SB 12.5:  Located not far from Vega, which is 24' following and just a bit south.  The central oval of this galaxy was glimpsed at 100x, and appears more elongated at 136x.  Views were good at 187x, showing a bright middle and much fainter elongation.  The galaxy is located in the north preceding end of a bright north/south stellar asterism, and just south preceding a 4-star diamond pattern.

Mapman Mike