Observing

Observing Log 2/2/2019 @ 18:45-3/2/2019 @ 03:30. Damian and Andrew. Observing Report: Galaxies and faint fuzzies galore! An incredible voyage into the unknown using digital setting circles and homemade image intensified eyepiece. Streethay, Lichfield, UK.

Observing Log 2/2/2019 @ 18:45-3/2/2019 @ 03:30.

Damian and Andrew.

Galaxies and faint fuzzies galore! An incredible voyage into the unknown using digital setting circles and homemade image intensified eyepiece.

Streethay, Lichfield, UK.

 

I am revising these notes (which I first wrote during the session on Sky Safari app on my iPad last night) the following morning after this amazing session and I still cannot believe what we saw last night! When I started astronomy as an amateur, I used to be excited to see one object per session. This improved over time, but I still had problems observing faint objects. This changed dramatically when, with Damian’s help several years ago, I managed to observe M110 – the vital moment in my observing history where I truly began to see faint objects for the first time.

However, none hitherto has prepared me for the incredible experience of last night. Below, I will describe to you how we observed magnitude 13+ objects – it is incredible that we could see such faint galaxies and nebulae in suburban UK skies in a location that definitely does not have dark sky status! We saw so many galaxies in the Orion Supercluster at one point that we gave up noting more of them and moved on to other things – forget the Messier Marathon, we seriously moved into the Herschel 400 last night. If I had not been there, I would not believe that we saw the things that we did, but I was there and know for certainty that we did see them – and all I can say is “Wow!”

In this endeavour, we were helped massively by the Push to GOTO on Damian’s Nova Hitch mount – this is composed of digital encoders on the axes of the mount, with a Nexus device to create a Wi-Fi network and connect them to his iPad running Sky Safari Pro 6 app. The Nova Hitch mount is so well crafted that Damian and I could manually move the telescope by pushing on it and a cross hair on the Sky Safari planetarium app on the iPad attached to the side of the mount would move to show exactly where the attached Tek 140 telescope was pointing. This scope is Damian’s pride and joy – the TEC 140 ED APO refractor with 140mm Aperture and 980 mm focal length.

Next to him on lawn, I was in charge of Damian’s Orion 10” Dobsonian telescope. This telescope is exactly the same as one I own and used for recent observing reports. I also have an iPad running Sky Safari Pro 6 planetarium software and bought this along last night. There aren’t any digital encoders on the Orion Dobsonian telescopes.

I did however bring along one particular piece of kit that truly came in to its own last night – a fair number of years ago I bought some cheap generation 1 image intensifier tubes from eBay. They cost approximately £50 each at the time and were old tank tubes. Damian and I modified them to turn them into image intensified eyepieces. Last night, I used one of these at my scope and the results were simply incredible. With our “normal” eyepieces, we were viewing magnitude 10+ galaxies which is in itself amazing for our local skies. With the image intensified eyepieces, we observed magnitude 13+ galaxies, which in our experience has never occurred before in this area, although I wonder if Nick has managed to see objects this faint in Swadlincote? Nick goes to our astronomy group (Rosliston Astronomy Group/RAG) and is an amazing observer who leads the charge at RAG with regards to observing and also publishes very useful observing reports on our blog (www.roslistonastronomy.uk). The image intensified eyepiece was only used on the Orion tonight and not on the Tek.

We were also helped last night by being able to make use of laser pointers with integrated heating straps which were made for us by Ed Mann from RAG. Our experience of laser pointers is mixed in the past – very useful accessories but with a terrible tendency to switch off as soon as the temperature drops. This was highly relevant last night as it was exceptionally cold getting as low as at least -3 C (from my car) although I believe it got lower. These laser pointers performed exceptionally, and it was only towards the end of the session that they started to complain about the cold but, even then, they would work. Any of other laser pen would have given up the ghost hours earlier.

The laser pointers, dew heating straps, my home-made heated eyepiece case, chargers for equipment, all ran off the another of Ed’s great ATM projects – 75AH battery packs with range of connectors from 230V plug sockets to 12V cigar lighter connectors and 5V USB connectors. These performed marvellously again last night and just shrugged off the cold.

The amazing observations below are probably largely due to the quality of the skies last night. Once we decided to wrap up in 4 layers and boldly braved the cold outside, we were rewarded with some of the clearest skies I have seen in the West Midlands, UK, and I am sure the cold played an important role in creating those skies. Clarity did vary somewhat, and this affected observations, with worsening of the skin around 23:00 and significant improvement after midnight. This is reflected in the amount of detail we could see in the observations below and I believe explains why we seemed unable to get some observations that I would have expected, given the other incredible objects that we also saw.

Practice makes perfect: The two of us have been seeing fainter and fainter objects over the years, and I believe that the more we observe, the more we learn to observe. In particular, this is the fourth observing session I have had in 8 days – I have never observed these many times in such a short period in the past – and that must also have helped me hone my personal skills so that I was ready for last night!

With regards to eyepieces, Damian was using his Ethos eyepieces and I was using my Explore Scientific eyepieces. Both sets are 100-degree apparent field of view and the wide vista this provides really helps finding objects and on keeping them in field of view for undriven mounts. The Dobsonian is undriven and the Nova Hitch is driven in one axis.

The evening started at 18:45 for Rhys and me. Damian rang an hour previously to give me the heads up that the International Space Station (ISS, ZARYA,1998-067A, 25544) was passing overhead from 18:40. We first saw it at 18:45, as it needed to rise high enough in the Western evening sky to become visible from the front of our house in the centre of Lichfield. It was already quite dark by this time. I took a photo of it as it crossed over the house using my Samsung S7 smartphone (without telescope).

A second pass of the ISS later in the night whilst I was at Damian’s house was quite low and, for some reason, Damian and I could not see it even though we followed its progress on Sky Safari and stared intently at the patch of sky where it was supposed to be. Not sure what was going on there!

After this, I joined Damian at his house in Streethay, Lichfield, and we started observing about 7:30pm. We could tell that this was going to be a night like no other from the second incredible object we observed……

Firstly, though, I will mention the Pleiades, Seven Sisters, Subaru Cluster, M 45, Mel 22, Just adding in for completeness. I used this last night with Betelgeuse to align my laser although Damian preferred to use Polaris tor this purpose.

Orion Nebula, M 42, NGC 1976, LBN 974, M42 – in Tek with OIII and UHC filters – UHC gives better view than without filter but the surprise last night was just how much extra nebulosity could be seen outside of what we normally think of as M42 throughout the field of view of the 17mm Ethos on Damian’s scope. He has a filter wheel so differences could easily be seen by rotating filters in and out whilst looking through eyepiece. I knew from articles in magazines and books that nebulosity can be found throughout the Orion constellation, but this is first time I have ever seen it in this way – not just the traditional M42 nebular shape but nebulosity is everywhere!

Pacman Nebula, NGC 281, LBN 616. Damian had been encouraged by my observation of this object a few days previously and found it in his Tek with 17mm Ethos eyepiece. Once he had found it, we were able to use star asterisms within the nebula to confirm the location and then both of us were able in his scope to independently follow the curve at the top of the nebula and distinguish this from brighter centre in the Tek with UHC filter. This is the second time that I have seen this visually. The last time was only few days ago at my house.

Owl Cluster, Dragonfly Cluster, Kachina Doll Cluster, ET Cluster, NGC 457, C 13, Damian pointed my scope for me at this little man.

NGC 436, At bottom of Owl Cluster. Small & moderately compact so reasonably stands out.

Caroline’s Rose, NGC 7789, Damian’s Push to GOTO makes it easy to nip around lots of objects so the next object he quickly found was Caroline’s Rose. We observed this object again using Damian’s 17mm Ethos eyepiece on his Tek. It took a second for my eyes to click in to the view and see it as a reasonably faint object with a multitude of faint stars all close together. What makes it difficult to see this object is that the background Milky Way is itself composed of lots of relative bright (compared to Caroline’s Rose) stars. If this was a barren area, then the object would stand out far more easily. However, in the eyepiece, as I looked at it, it got brighter and more obvious and this was an experience that we saw on many objects last night, suggesting that taking our time with the objects we observe really pays dividends. I found that indirect observation of this object helped but was not necessary to observe it last night. It had a brighter ring of stars partially surrounding it and as I observed it for longer periods of time the petal-like structure of the rose became more obvious.

California Nebula, NGC 1499, LBN 756, We have seen the California Nebula visually which is an amazing observation! Needed the Push to GOTO on the Tek to find it but once found it was visible and we could follow it from one side to the other. UHC used. Boy was it faint!!

Crab Nebula, Taurus A, M 1, NGC 1952, LBN 833, It is weird that sometimes what is easy to observe on any given evening might on another night be difficult to detect even when the sky suggests otherwise. Last night the Crab Nebula demonstrated less detail and appears significantly fainter than when Damian and I have looked at it in the past, which we definitely would not have expected given the other objects in this observing note. We thought this was a good opportunity to try the filters on the Tek’s filter wheel. We found that the UHC helped and the OIII made it glow slightly and that the darker background in the OIII filter increased contrast. We felt that the OIII was a good choice for this object.

M 35, NGC 2168, Brightly seen tonight through any filter we used.

Damian found NGC 2158, the football to M35. NGC 2158 is an open cluster in the constellation of Gemini. It is located southwest of open cluster Messier 35, and is believed to be about 2 billion years old. The two clusters are unrelated, as NGC 2158 is around 9,000 light years further away than M35. The other day I could not see this but last night clearly visible especially when Damian pointed it out to me. OIII made this object disappear tonight. Visible in UHC but Damian preferred the clear and I thought that it stood out better with of all things a neutral density 25% filter – that is weird as I would have thought it would have disappeared once some of its light was removed.

Starfish Cluster, M 38, NGC 1912, Bright in Orion. Took a photo with phone! One of many photos tonight taken through the eyepiece with the hand-held Samsung S7. Damian was jealous of the performance of the camera in low light on this phone. I believe the new iPhone is better, but it also costs an arm and a leg!

M 37, NGC 2099, Also big and bright – the three clusters in Auriga show different structures in terms of strings and arcs of stars to all three. All three seen with 20mm ES in Orion.

Pinwheel Cluster, M 36, NGC 1960, Another photo opportunity!

Above photos were through Explore Scientific eyepieces.

Rosette Nebula, NGC 2238, NGC 2239, NGC 2246, NGC 2237, C 49, LBN 948, Another Push to GOTO find. Very faint. The central star cluster stood out as having little or no nebulosity visible visually in the Tek with 21mm Ethos with the UHC filter. There was a ring of nebulosity surrounding this star cluster particularly prominent between 12 and 3 on clock face in the field of view. The OIII filter emphasised the central lack of nebulosity compared to the UHC filter, but the UHC showed up most nebulosity. I doubt we could have seen nebula without being directed there first but we might have star hopped to the cluster. Without filters I could not see any nebulosity. The image intensified eyepiece did not show any nebulosity – these are our own homemade image intensified eyepieces using old generation I image intensifier tubes.

Starfish Cluster, M 38, NGC 1912, New observation with Tek 21mm Ethos as starting point for next observation.

NGC 1907, Compact little cluster seen below Starfish Cluster. Not seen it before – don’t know why. 21mm Ethos on Tek. This is an open star cluster around 4,500 light years from Earth. It contains around 30 stars and is over 500 million years old. With a magnitude of 8.2 it is visible as part of the constellation Auriga. I tried out the UHC in to see its effect and could not then see this object with the filter in situ. However, I am uncertain how to interpret this result as the object then also did not appear when I swapped out the UHC. I think that the eyepiece had fogged up and that this might explain the negative observation rather than the filter. Now I have found NGC 1907 in the Orion telescope, this object showed how well designed is the Tek telescope, as this object was rather fainter in the Orion in spite of the extra light gathering power.

By now it was so cold that eyepiece case, telescopes and other equipment were all covered with ice. It was decidedly below freezing! However, the eyepieces in the eyepiece case were OK because of the vivarium heating mat that I installed in the bottom, keeping it hot enough to prevent fogging of eyepieces stored there. I did not have separate eyepiece dew straps tonight so every so often I had to change my Explore Scientific eyepieces around – 20mm, 14mm, 9mm.

Starfish Cluster, M 38, NGC 1912, I re-visited M35/37/38 to take photos through the image intensified eyepiece on the Orion with my Samsung S7 phone.

Bode’s Nebulae, M 81, NGC 3031, UGC 5318, PGC 28630, MCG 12-10-10, CGCG 333-7, IRAS 09514+6918,2MASS 09553318+6903549. Observed in Tek with Ethos eyepiece and then through image intensified eyepiece in the Orion and I then took photos through the image intensified eyepiece. The image intensified eyepiece really brings out detail in the Cigar Galaxy compared to normal eyepieces.

Heart Nebula, IC 1805, LBN 654, Unable to observe with the Tek even with an UHC filter or in the image intensified eyepiece on the Orion even with careful star hopping. Although this object is very faint, we found it surprising that we could not see the Heart Nebula after I saw it the other day – both Damian and I tried using eyepieces and I also pointed the image intensifier on the area. I think the explanation for out failure to observe it was probably due to variations in sky clarity during the evening and this was towards its worse at the time when we tried to observe this object. The object was also relatively low in the west, the worst light-polluted part of the sky. It also meant that it was sitting on the top of Damian’s roof in the west and hence air currents from the house might have affected the observation and more importantly meant that we could not return to it later when sky cleared after midnight as by then it had dropped behind the house.

NGC 2903, UGC 5079, PGC 27077, MCG 4-23-9, CGCG 122-14, IRAS 09293+2143, SDSS 093210.09+213008.2,2MASS 09321011+2130029,23:06. Faint slash in Tek.

Beehive Cluster, Praesepe, M 44, NGC 2632, Bright and Pleiades like in the Tek with 17mm Ethos. Unable to get all in field of view.

M 67, NGC 2682, About 20% field of view of 17mm Ethos in Tek. Easily seen.

M 65, NGC 3623, UGC 6328, PGC 34612, MCG 2-29-18, CGCG 67-54, Arp 317, VV 308, Went looking for the M65/66 trio – unable to find them but I noticed that few stars were visible suggesting that there is a milky background at the current time. Forecast says that sky should improve significantly in one hour (now 23:00). So, for now, I felt that I needed to concentrate on bright targets rather than galaxies…. However, Damian started finding faint objects again, so I abandoned this idea! Things were to change regarding galaxies in Leo – see below!

NGC 663, C 10, Orion Dobsonian and 20mm ES. Open cluster with some bright stars and fuzz of lighter stars in a shape reminiscent of the constellation Leo without the question mark.

NGC 659, Much fainter galaxy observed last night in Orion, as part of a pair with the next object.

M 96, NGC 3368, UGC 5882, PGC 32192, MCG 2-28-6, CGCG 66-13, IRAS 10441+1205, SDSS 104645.67+114911.8, Well done to Damian for finding M95 and M96 last night after I had thought they were not visible! Once he had found them, Damian directed me with his laser so that I could see them in the Orion Dobsonian Telescope. M96 was brighter than N95 – this difference in practice turned out to be quite significant although only there was only a small difference in magnitude listed in Sky Safari with both listed as magnitude between 9 and10. No filters used.

M 105, NGC 3379, UGC 5902, PGC 32256, MCG 2-28-11, CGCG 66-18, SDSS 104749.60+123453.9,2MASS 10474959+1234538, Damian found these two as well.

NGC 3384, NGC 3371, UGC 5911, PGC 32292, MCG 2-28-12, CGCG 66-21, SDSS 104816.91+123745.8, SDSS 104816.88+123745.3, These were brighter than previous pair although magnitude listed as dimmer nearly as low as magnitude 10. (9.93). I don’t understand why that should be? NGC 3384 is an elliptical galaxy in the constellation Leo. The galaxy was discovered by William Herschel in 1784 as part of the Herschel 400 Catalogue. The high age of the stars in the central region of NGC 3384 was confirmed after analysis of their colour.

NGC 3389, NGC 3373, UGC 5914, PGC 32306, MCG 2-28-13, CGCG 66-22, SDSS 104827.90+123159.5, SDSS 104827.90+123159.4, Suddenly I saw this for second by indirect vision then checked in Sky Safari and indeed it was where I thought I saw it was where it ought to be – I did not know the location in advance confirming the observation. Damian came over to my scope and managed to see it after a while after while he could pick out by direct as well as indirect vision. I found it easier to see with repeated observations but still needed indirect vision and was greatly helped by nudging the scope.

NGC 3412, UGC 5952, PGC 32508, MCG 2-28-16, CGCG 66-38, SDSS 105053.27+132443.6,2MASS 10505331+1324437, Sky definitely clearing and now. I found this on my own by star hopping and it was visible by direct vision. Magnitude 10.51 – the dimmest object we have observed last night! (I keep saying this as objects get dimmer and dimmer) I am proud! No GOTO used here!

NGC 3367, UGC 5880, PGC 32178, MCG 2-28-5, CGCG 66-11, IRAS 10439+1400, SDSS 104634.95+134503.0, SDSS 104634.95+134503.1, More careful star hopping using 9mm ES – this galaxy is only just visible as a slight brightening of sky in the area. Whilst I observed it with occasional momentary glances by direct vision, it was a far less satisfying observation than NGC 3377 above.

NGC 3377, UGC 5899, PGC 32249, MCG 2-28-9, CGCG 66-16,2MASS 10474239+1359083, Back to this now looking very bright in 9mm just to show effect of darker sky and clearer sky

NGC 3367, UGC 5880, PGC 32178, MCG 2-28-5, CGCG 66-11, IRAS 10439+1400, SDSS 104634.95+134503.0, SDSS 104634.95+134503.1, I am on a role. Magnitude 11.37. I don’t think I have ever seen anything so faint. An adjacent star acted as a marker. Looks like very faint star by direct vision but grows in size by indirect vision.

NGC 3377, UGC 5899, PGC 32249, MCG 2-28-9, CGCG 66-16,2MASS 10474239+1359083, More careful star hopping using 9mm ES this magnitude 10+ galaxy is now obvious by direct vision in more powerful eyepiece.

NGC 3489, UGC 6082, PGC 33160, MCG 2-28-39, CGCG 66-84,2MASS 11001858+1354045, Another magnitude 10.21 galaxy best seen with nudging scope that looked like out of focus star. Small and faint. I was in a roll last night!Thankfully, Damian could see it when I asked him to come across and confirm the observation. NGC 3489 is a lenticular galaxy located in the constellation Leo. It is located about 30 million light years from Earth.

M 89, NGC 4552, UGC 7760, PGC 41968, CGCG 70-184, SDSS 123539.80+123322.8,2MASS 12353988+1233217, Seen in Tek with the help of the Push to GOTO helping identify galaxies here.

M 60, NGC 4649, UGC 7898, PGC 42831, MCG 2-33-2, CGCG 71-16, Arp 116, VV 206, In Tek. Seen with galaxy below easily. Close pairing in Tek/13mm Ethos.

NGC 4647, UGC 7896, PGC 42816, MCG 2-33-1, CGCG 71-15, Arp 116, VV 206, IRAS 12410+1151, Seen next to M60 – pairing.

M 53, NGC 5024, Change of tack – this is globular cluster in a summer constellation seen tonight in the winter! Seen in Tek.

NGC 5053, I found this in Tek. I noted that it was adjacent to a particular star and then was able to confirm this was just where I should expect to find it on Sky Safari. Very faint!

Black Eye Galaxy, M 64, NGC 4826, UGC 8062, PGC 44182, MCG 4-31-1, CGCG 130-1, IRAS 12542+2157,2MASS 12564369+2140575, Found by Damian in Tek who directed me to it in Orion then we swapped to the Image Intensifier and took photo. Great stuff!

Needle Galaxy, NGC 4565, C 38, UGC 7772, PGC 42038, MCG 4-30-6, CGCG 129-10, IRAS 12338+2615, SDSS 123620.76+255915.5, After viewing the incredible view of this Needle Galaxy in the Image Intensifier, the image in the 14mm ES in the Orion was a serious disappointment – the image intensifier was that good! Best £50 we ever spent (buying the image intensifier tube from which we made these image intensified eyepieces).

NGC 4494, UGC 7662, PGC 41441, MCG 4-30-2, CGCG 129-5,2MASS 12312403+2546299, I am not used to just finding so many and such faint fuzzies. Happened tonight. Now I know what life must have been like for the Herschels….Damian followed my laser to it and used his Nexus and Wi-Fi to determine what it was.

Next was a hot chocolate drink break and a chance to warm hand warmers in the microwave. Once ready to go back into the artic conditions outside, I was worried that the secondary mirror on the Orion would fog up as it was so cold. However, Damian had a long dew shield on the scope and that successfully prevented dewing – dew progressed only 5-6 inches down the inside by the time we finished.

Whirlpool Galaxy, Lord Rosse’s Nebula, M 51, NGC 5194, UGC 8493, PGC 47404, MCG 8-25-12, CGCG 246-8, Arp 85, VV 403, In Tek two clear cores seen tonight. Bright double core in the image intensifier on the Orion. I took a picture.

M 101, NGC 5457, UGC 8981, PGC 50063, MCG 9-23-28, CGCG 272-21, Arp 26, VV 344. Initially seen in the Tek – core only obvious although hint of wider galaxy but not able to observe spiral structure. Again, seen in the Orion with ES eyepiece. In the image intensifier this was seen but only as a tiny core like one of smallest galaxies we have seen last night. Totally unexpected for such an enormous galaxy. I think the reason for this is the image intensifier does a great job on amplifying the image of faint objects but only when they are above a particular surface brightness – when below this level nothing is seen and tonight only a tiny fraction of even the relatively bright core was bright enough to stimulate the amplifying response of the image intensifier tube.

I also missed a fireball that Damian saw whilst writing these notes at this point in the evening. Urrrrh!

M 109, NGC 3992, UGC 6937, PGC 37617, MCG 9-20-44, CGCG 269-23, IRAS 11550+5339, IRAS 11549+5339, I found this with image intensifier. Bright core hazy periphery.

Sunflower Galaxy, M 63, NGC 5055, UGC 8334, PGC 46153, MCG 7-27-54, CGCG 217-23, IRAS 13135+4217, SDSS 131549.26+420145.8, Again seen first in Tek and then in image intensifier on Orion. Unlike the long slender image in the Tek the object appeared more round in shape in the image intensifier which we could not explain.

Virgo A, M 87, NGC 4486, PGC 41361, CGCG 70-139, Arp 152, IRAS 12282+1240, SDSS 123049.41+122328.1,2MASS 12304942+1223279, Took image intensifier into Virgo cluster and fell straight onto M87 – confirmed with Damian’s Push to GOTO.

At this point, I decided to trek through the Virgo/Leo galaxies using the Orion and the image intensified eyepiece:

Markarian’s Chain, M 84, NGC 4374, UGC 7494, PGC 40455, MCG 2-32-34, CGCG 70-58, IRAS 12224+1309, SDSS 122503.74+125312.8. I was able to track through all main 8 galaxies in Markarian’s Chain easily with image intensifier. All showed up easily in the image intensifier. We also saw many of them with the Tek, but they were much fainter. Member galaxies of Markarian’s Chain include M84 (NGC 4374), M86 (NGC 4406), NGC 4477, NGC 4473, NGC 4461, NGC 4458, NGC 4438 and NGC 4435.

Markarian’s Chain, M 86, NGC 4406, UGC 7532, PGC 40653, MCG 2-32-46, CGCG 70-72, SDSS 122611.75+125646.3,2MASS 12261181+1256454, Observed.

Eyes Galaxies, Markarian’s Chain, NGC 4438, UGC 7574, PGC 40914, MCG 2-32-65, CGCG 70-97, Arp 120, VV 188, IRAS 12252+1317, Observed. These were seen three times during the evening as we used them as an easy to identify point for star hopping to other Virgo galaxies.

Markarian’s Chain, NGC 4458, UGC 7610, PGC 41095, MCG 2-32-82, CGCG 70-114, SDSS 122857.56+131430.9,2MASS 12285753+1314308, observed.

Markarian’s Chain, NGC 4461, NGC 4443, UGC 7613, PGC 41111, MCG 2-32-84, CGCG 70-115, SDSS 122903.00+131101.7,2MASS 12290301+1311018, observed.

Markarian’s Chain, NGC 4473, UGC 7631, PGC 41228, MCG 2-32-93, CGCG 70-125, SDSS 122948.86+132545.9,2MASS 12294887+1325455, Observed.

Markarian’s Chain, NGC 4477, UGC 7638, PGC 41260, MCG 2-32-97, CGCG 70-129, IRAS 12275+1354, SDSS 123002.18+133811.5,2MASS 12300227+1338112, observed.

Coma Pinwheel Galaxy, Pinwheel Galaxy, M 99, NGC 4254, PGC 39578, MCG 3-31-99, CGCG 99-11, CGCG 98-144, IRAS 12162+1441, SDSS 121849.60+142459.4, Faint although quite big in Tek brighter in image intensifier as for many other objects seen tonight.

M 98, NGC 4192, UGC 7231, PGC 39028, MCG 3-31-79, CGCG 98-108, IRAS 12112+1510, SDSS 121348.28+145401.6, Very faint in Tek but this is where image intensifier really comes into its own making light work of these galaxies and turning the need for indirect vision technique in the eyepiece into direct visual observation of the object.

M 100, NGC 4321, PGC 40153, MCG 3-32-15, CGCG 99-30, IRAS 12203+1606, IRAS 12204+1605,2MASS 12225489+1549205, Damian could not see this in Tek but image intensifier on Orion pulled it out.

Messier 105 or M105, also known as NGC 3379, is an elliptical galaxy located 36.6 million light years away in the equatorial constellation of Leo. We observed this together with NGC 3384.

NGC 3384, NGC 3371, UGC 5911, PGC 32292, MCG 2-28-12, CGCG 66-21, SDSS 104816.91+123745.8, SDSS 104816.88+123745.3, Damian then found these two and I then saw them in the Orion.

NGC 4328, PGC 40209, MCG 3-32-19, CGCG 99-34, SDSS 122320.02+154913.2, SDSS 122320.03+154913.3,2MASS 12232004+1549139, I saw this in the image intensifier as a definite galaxy above and right of M100. Not visible in Tek although on further observation we did manage to see M100 in itself in the Tek (not easy to see in Tek initially). This other galaxy might be NGC 4328, which is magnitude 11.36. Note there is some confusion on naming here. The designations I have used come from Sky Safari. NGC 4328 is listed in this software as being different from M 100, but my online searches suggest other websites list NGC 4328 as an alternative name for M 100. I am describing a faint separate galaxy to M 100 here that I saw last night.

NGC 4350, UGC 7473, PGC 40295, MCG 3-32-23, CGCG 99-38, SDSS 122357.84+164136.0,2MASS 12235781+1641360, This and following companion were seen in image intensifier – they were both definitely far too dim for the Tek to observe with Ethos eyepiece. This is magnitude 11 territory. Never had definite observation of such a dim object before. However, this is not the last time I will be saying this during this observing session as the objects just got dimmer and dimmer….

NGC 4340, UGC 7467, PGC 40245, MCG 3-32-21, CGCG 99-36, SDSS 122335.28+164320.4,2MASS 12233531+1643199, observed as pair with previous galaxy.

NGC 4344, UGC 7468, PGC 40249, MCG 3-32-22, CGCG 99-37, IRAS 12210+1748, SDSS 122337.45+173227.2, SDSS 122337.45+173227.0, Picked this 13+ magnitude galaxy up too with image intensifier

M 85, NGC 4382, UGC 7508, PGC 40515, MCG 3-32-29, CGCG 99-45,2MASS 12252405+1811278, I saw the other faint galaxies as I searched for this which was very bright in the image intensifier by comparison!

Damian decided to take over directing the observing…

Silver Needle Galaxy, NGC 4244, C 26, UGC 7322, PGC 39422, MCG 6-27-45, CGCG 187-35, IRAS 12150+3804, IRAS 12149+3805, Damian said, “Are you ready for a challenge. This one won’t be bright like the last object you looked at.” He was right! Incredibly faint slash in the Tek, much better in the image intensifier but still faint – probably the faintest thing we have successfully seen in the image intensifier (at least up this point – objects seen later in the night gave this one a run for its money in terms of faintness!), belying its supposed magnitude 10+ brightness – in reality this integrated magnitude must be spread out to give a lower surface brightness per unit area, and therefore appear much fainter. This idea was supported later in the evening by our ability to observe tiny (therefore compact) magnitude 13+ galaxies in the image intensifier (compact so light in small area and surface brightness per unit area increased as a result).

There are so many galaxies you can look at in one session, so we changed tack to alternative objects.

Hercules Cluster, M 13, NGC 6205, Always wonderful in any scope, seen in both scopes with eyepieces and amazing tendrils and cartwheel like structure with bright resolvable stars seen in image intensifier.

NGC 6207, UGC 10521, PGC 58827, MCG 6-37-7, CGCG 197-7, IRAS 16412+3655,2MASS 16430375+3649567, Try as I might I could not make this out in the image intensified intensified eyepiece.

Sky starting to brighten. It is now 03:17.

Napoleon’s Hat – nice little asterism just below Arcturus – one star involved is BD +19 2774. Worth a look so we did! Damian likes this one and picked it out and called me over. Found in Boötes, magnitude 9+. This asterism is composed of 7 stars in the shape of Napoleon’s Hat. French Astronomer Fulbert Picot discovered this interesting seven-star grouping. Some listings call it Picot 1.

NGC 6207, UGC 10521, PGC 58827, MCG 6-37-7, CGCG 197-7, IRAS 16412+3655,2MASS 16430375+3649567, Well done to Damian who eventually found this in his Tek. Boy is it faint! He then directed me with his laser until I got it (just) in my eyepiece and then I was able to replace it with the image intensifier and see it in that. Brighter then but still faint. We have seen it better in the past.

NGC 6210, ARO 5, PK 043+37.1, PN G043.1+37.7, Final object of the evening. It was found by Damian in the Tek. Lovely little blue planetary nebula like a slightly out of focus blue star.

Surprisingly I had experienced great difficulty finding M3 when I looked for it – not sure why – so we did not get to observe that object. Sky was brightening by now and that might explain it but, really, I suspect it was my incompetence.

Packed away at 03:40. We are freezing cold and it is starting to get light and ice is on everything!

This has been one of the best observing sessions Damian and I have ever had together, coming on as it has after an incredible week with three other observing sessions over the last eight days. We have never seen so many objects of such high magnitude – we have seen objects in the past of magnitude 9+ but last night we observed objects of magnitude 13+. We were helped by a Push to GOTO system, but I also managed to star hop unaided to many of the objects – in spite of my advancing age (now 50) and definite deteriorating vision. It just goes to show that experience really matters when it comes to observing skills for the night sky. I have used tonight a particular technique to verify observations that has worked well. I noted adjacent stars when I see something and then compared it to Sky Safari maps. I might have used Sky Safari to get to area initially but the detail of exactly what was next door to the object in question was only ascertained from direct observation after identification of the presence of the object in the eyepiece. This allowed me to confirm with certainty the presence of very dim objects at the borderline of visibility.

Andy

Observing Log 31/1/2019 @ 01:30 – 02:15 Darnford Park, Lichfield, Andrew Thornett, Vixen SG 2.1 x 42 binoculars

Observing Log 31/1/2019 @ 01:30 – 02:15

Darnford Park, Lichfield

Andrew Thornett

 

Situated either side of Darnford Lane, Lichfield, Darnford Park covers 190,000 square metres of public open space. The park was developed as part of the Boley Park residential development. Current Location 52º 41′ N 001º 48′ W

It is now 1am and I am having difficulty sleeping so I am going for a walk. Cars around the neighbourhood are all iced up, with temperatures < -6 C. Clear sky although not sure just how clear as up there it looks somewhat misty to me…. I am going to walk to Darnford Park and have got those funny little binoculars Damian and I bought from IAS couple years back with me – they are a modem version of opera glasses with wide field of view and low magnification. They increase resolving power but still give a similar experience to observing the sky with the naked eye as you can move your head easily from side to side without getting disorientated. For someone who is a little short sighted like me, they also allow me to focus properly at infinity. When I wear them, my eyes look like that lady out of Harry Potter – great big orbs in her spectacles! On a side note, gosh the A38 is still so noisy at this time of night! Darnford Park is next to the A38 but I would have expected it to be much quieter at this time of the morning. None off the communing with nature we get at Rosliston Forestry Centre where owls hooting and other forest sounds dominate.

My binoculars are the Vixen SG 2.1 x 42 binoculars with some added some eyecups that Damian found fit to cover the metal eye guard which would be freezing in this weather.

Orion Nebula            , M 42, NGC 1976. The binoculars definitely improved the view compared to the naked eye although of course a telescope – any telescope – would be better with this object!

Pleiades, Seven Sisters, Subaru Cluster            M 45, Mel 22. My eyesight is not as good as it used to be. Mainly related to short sightedness means this object is blur visually but with these binoculars the magnification is only small but they allow me to focus and count 12 stars in M45.

Beehive Cluster, Praesepe            M 44, NGC 2632. Only faintly just visible to the naked eye, it turned into a bright smudge with the binoculars tonight.

Bode’s Nebulae, M 81, NGC 3031, UGC 5318, PGC 28630, MCG 12-10-10, CGCG 333-7, IRAS 09514+6918. Trying it on with binoculars – even using them, neither M81/82/galaxies around Leo or in Virgo cluster/M101/M51 are visible tonight.

Pinwheel Cluster, M 36, NGC 1960. Visible by direct vision with binoculars.

Starfish Cluster, M 38, NGC 1912. Visible by direct vision with binoculars.

NGC 1893. Visible by direct vision with binoculars.

M 37, NGC 2099. More difficult to observe tonight for some reason easier with indirect vision even with binoculars.

M 35, NGC 2168. Seen by direct vision with binoculars.

NGC 2158. The Football to M35’s footballer – of course I was NOT able to see this tonight!

Andromeda Galaxy, M 31, NGC 224, UGC 454, PGC 2557, MCG 7-2-16. Too low down and too much light pollution.

Double Cluster, h Persei    NGC 869, C 14. The binoculars do an excellent job of picking these two clusters out of the sky. They are quite condensed and show up well. Certainly lot easier than trying to observe them tonight with naked eye.

St 2. Just about saw this, I think….Interesting that this was not as easy to observe with the binoculars as the Double Cluster – the Double Cluster stands out due to their condensed groups of stars.

I am now very cold and I had better try and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Got to be up at 6:30!

Andy

Gaps in the clouds.

Swadlincote cloud lands. 200 f6 Orion optics and C6r.

28/1/19 early hours were wonderfully clear , the evening just gave an hour of useable sky. Determined to get something done on the lists building up .

NGC 2420 in Gemini gave a wonderfully compact centre . It’s a Trumpler class I1r open cluster some 2 billion years old . There are very few open clusters of this age. Not only is it found way above the galactic disc , but the stars are odd. They are half the age of our Sun , but similar composition. Thought to be either expelled from the disc or captured by galactic cannibalism. Wait until it gets high to capture its full features.

Zeta Cancri (Tegmine) is a wonderful sight , give it plenty to split the 5.9″ separation into a little over 1″ companion triple element.

Early evening and Auriga rises giving a wonderful view of the Messier clusters , M37 bring the finest. To one side of the constellation you’ll easily find .NGC 1664 ( kite cluster) , think that’s the first time that it actually looked like a kite , quite stunning.

NGC 2281 is a rich favourite Auriga cluster , lots of chains there .

A trip to Ryman’s and I found a Pentel Hybrid white pen. The Works has A5 spiral bound heavy black card notebooks. All we need now is more

clear skies ! Nick.

Observing Log 28/1/2019. Visual observing the Heart Nebula from Lichfield. Andy and Damian.

Observing Log 28/1/2019.
Visual observing the Heart Nebula from Lichfield.
Andy and Damian.

Can you observe the Heart Nebula with a 10” scope from the centre of Lichfield, about 600 metres from Tesco Extra? Yes, we can – but it requires an UHC filter to do so……

I am very excited about tonight’s observations – Damian and I have never observed this much detail in the Heart Nebula before!

Damian came around to my house this evening and after a meal together we took the 10 Orion Dobsonian Telescope out for a spin. We used my Explore Scientific 100-degree field of view eyepieces. After initial cloud with poor forecast, the sky cleared at 9pm and we went outside. We also used Tele Vue Paracorr coma corrector tonight and 2 UHC (Ultra High Contrast) filter.
The Milky Way was visible high in sky going through Cassiopeia, Auriga and Gemini.

Orion Nebula,M 42,NGC 1976,LBN 974, I wanted to show Damian the difference between the view without and with the UHC filter. Without the filter, the nebula was small, without significant wings in this relatively poor sky, but with the filter it showed far more detail and the wings of the nebula extended from edge to edge of the field of view of the 14mm ES eyepiece,

Double Cluster,Chi Persei,NGC 884,C 14,We are using the Paracorr as well tonight. The Double Cluster is bright and beautiful with the UHC filter stretching across the field of view of the 14mm eyepiece. We used this cluster as starting point to jump to the Heart and Soul Nebula and a small Hockey Stick asterism (Mk 6) to tell us when we reached that nebula.

Star-hopping to the Heart Nebula from the Double Cluster:

Detail of observations in the Heart Nebula:

Heart Nebula, IC 1805, LBN 654. Amazingly, Damian and I found this tonight with a definite visual observation of the central star cluster with its surrounding nebulosity. This is the brightest part of the nebula and required an UHC filter to observe. The central bright portion was a definite observation using 20mm ES eyepiece. We THINK we observed less bright surrounding area to southwest of this bright central area but were less confident in this part of the observation. Still, to have seen visually with confidence any part of the Heart and Soul Nebula is quite an achievement, so we are very pleased with ourselves!

Mk 6,This little cluster showed the little hockey stick asterism that we used to demonstrate that we had reached the edge of the Heart Nebula in our star hopping, as it is located on its edge.

Mk 6 (The Hockey Stick Asterism mentioned above):

 

Heart Nebula, IC 1805, LBN 654, The central brighter part of the Heart Nebula is located in the circle defining this region on Sky Safari, and we observed a cluster of stars in this central region together with brighter nebulosity. Still needed an UHC filter to observe it though (although cluster visible without filter):

The Heart Nebula and the dotted circle in the middle surrounds the brighter central area:

Identifying the brighter central area:

Area around Star HD 15250,SAO 12309,BD +60 490,HIP 11618,TYC 4046-1262-1,We are working our way around the Heart Nebula. At this point nebulosity was visible by direct vision in an area almost devoid of stars with its brightness different from the rest of the field of view. We are continuing to use the 20mm eyepiece and UHC filter,

NGC 896, IC 1795, LBN 645, Star hopping from the hockey stick asterism brought me to this nebula. Now that our eyes are accustomed to looking for these faint nebulae tonight, we could now see the nebulosity between the stars. Damian nudged the scope to confirm and noted that the more he looked the more obvious the nebulous patch.

Star-hopping around the Heart Nebula – the pictures below show some of the areas we were able to identify with certainty tonight – note they are all the brighter areas on the chart:

Soul Nebula, Soul Nebula, IC 1848, LBN 667, Ahhh! Before we got to the Soul Nebula, the cloud came in. It was only thin and stars still visible but enough to wipe out faint nebulosity and lead us to call this search for faint nebulosity with an UHC filter. We finished and packed away at 22:15.

Tonight, we have amazed ourselves – not only managing to visually observe the Heart Nebula (nebulosity as well as stars) – but also being able to hop around the different brighter parts of the nebula – all confirmed by observing the varying brightness of the regions as we panned the eyepiece across the sky. I think I will always carry an UHC filter with me whenever I observe from now onwards!

Andy

Observing Log 27/1/2019 @ 21:30-22:30 Lichfield Andrew Thornett

Observing Log 27/1/2019 @ 21:30-22:30

Lichfield

Andrew Thornett

 

 

Orion 10 Dobsonian, 9mm and 14mm and 20mm Explore Scientific Eyepieces, 6mm Ethos eyepiece, tonight I had also searched for and found my 2 UHC filter to see if this helped with nebulosity.

Telrad finder.

Lichfield, current Location 52º 41′ N 001º 49′ W

No moon during observing period. Intermittent cloud banks meant rushing to find objects between cloud.

 

Orion Nebula, M42, NGC 1976, LBN 974 – the UHC makes it look very bright and glow with an almost supernatural type appearance. Lots of detail in arms with and without filter tonight – more so than on Friday night as sky clarity far better than it was then (in gaps between clouds). Filter makes the nebula very bright.,

 

NGC 1982. Not easy to see tonight which surprised me given brightness of M42.

 

Owl Nebula, M97, NGC 3587, ARO 25, PK 148+57.1, PN G148.4+57.0, VV 59. On Friday night after RAG I observed M108, but cloud came in and prevented me from searching for the Owl Nebula. I did have one brief opportunity to scan the area and did not see it during that scan.

Tonight, I used the UHC filter with 20mm ES and immediately dropped on to it without any difficulty. The filter made it stand out as bright glowing patch.,

 

Double Cluster, h Persei, NGC 869, C 14 & Chi Persei,NGC 884,C 14. Beautiful without filter and glowing with filter – VERY impressive sight!

 

St 2. I mention in passing as can’t miss it as search for Double Cluster.,

 

Pacman Nebula, NGC 281, LBN 616. Really interesting observation. This object was definitely not visible without UHC filter. With the UHC filter on 20mm ES, once I star-hopped to this object and clearly identified it from the distinctive pattern of stars within it that are replicated quite exactly in Sky Safari, I could then map out the extent of the nebulosity. However, I am also confident that I could not have found this nebula tonight even with the UHC filter without first star-hopping, because it is so faint and (more importantly) looks very much like one of the adjacent star clouds. I have experienced this before with observations of faint nebulosity – definite observations seen but only able to obtain them after I carefully star-hopped to the object first – in particular I have had the same experience observing the North American Nebula in the past.

 

M108, NGC 3556, UGC 6225, PGC 34030, MCG 9-18-98, CGCG 267-48, CGCG 268-1, IRAS 11085+5556. Another definite observation after star hopping this time WITHOUT UHC filter. Adding the filter meant the galaxy was no longer visible. I carefully confirmed this ensuring that I star-hopped to the correct location for the galaxy both with and without filter on the eyepiece.

 

Caroline’s Rose, NGC 7789. Finding sky objects is a bit like catching fish. Even if you do not know what to expect, once you find it/the fish bites then you immediately know you have got it. It has been a long time since I last observed this object and I had forgotten what it looked like but once I saw it in the eyepiece, I just knew what it was. Lots of pale dots of stars close together like a school of children amongst the more widely dispersed adult population!

 

Bode’s Nebulae, M 81, NGC 3031, UGC 5318, PGC 28630, MCG 12-10-10, CGCG 333-7, IRAS 09514+6918,2MASS 09553318+6903549. After clearly not being able to observe M108 with the UHC filter, I wondered what its effect on M81/82 would be? These two objects can be frustrating, sometimes easy to find other times elusive. It took me several goes to find them tonight. When I eventually did, they were bright without filter, glowing and with bright cores with filter but less detail in the peripheral regions with the filter I think…, but I can’t be 100% sure and would value anyone else’s experiences – please let me know what you think.,

 

I closed up shop at 22:30 – work tomorrow – shame!

 

Andy

Observing Log 25/1/2019 @ 23:30 – 00:30, Lichfield, Andrew Thornett

Observing Log 25/1/2019 @ 23:30 – 00:30

Lichfield

Andrew Thornett

 

Just came back a half hour ago from the first end of month meeting at RAG. Thanks to the kind folks who congratulated me on my talk tonight. Really Ed is owed a lot of the praise for writing it – I just presented it!

 

It was cloudy all evening, but on the way home I noticed that the sky was clearing so in arriving back to my house I pulled out my trusty Orion ten-inch Dobsonian telescope and started with a 20mm Explore Scientific 100-degree apparent field of view eyepiece. Tonight, I am using a Telrad as a finder – I love Telrads- always reliable, batteries never seem to go flat, copes with almost all weather, unlike a laser….

 

The sky had an obvious high moisture content so I doubted that I would see much more than showpieces tonight but still it will be a great getting out observing again after so long (however see my entry on M108 later – a surprise finding given the skies). Work pressure has kept me away from the eyepiece and I miss it greatly.

 

Orion Nebula, M42, NGC 1976, LBN 974. I started with the showpiece Orion Nebula, M42.

M42 lacked the size and detail of clearer nights but was still a fruitful sight tonight. The trapezium star group was clearly visible in the fish mouth area – I saw four stars here tonight rather than five as seen on clearer nights.

 

NGC 1975. Difficult to observe this tonight which is interesting as it is usually easily seen. I guess this reflects the high atmospheric humidity.

 

NGC 1981, Bright and easily seen.

 

NGC 1999, LBN 979, Definitely not seen tonight! At tenth magnitude far too faint in these skies.

 

IC 434,LBN 953. Difficult to know if I could see a bit of this or just the reflection of the bright star off moist atmosphere as the other two bright stars of Orion’s Belt also appeared to have nebulosity around them which is not easily visible in my scope at this location…..Therefore, I suspect it was a halo effect from the water in Earth’s atmosphere.

 

Pleiades,Seven Sisters,Subaru Cluster,M 45,Mel 22. Very bright widely dispersed stars. I love the way that visually the contrast between star and background is really vivid – photos just don’t seem to bring this out quite so well. This effect is also seen in the next two objects I observed (Double Cluster).

 

Double Cluster, NGC 869, C 14, The Double Cluster is probably my favourite deep sky object and with Saturn one of my two (well three really as the Double Cluster is of course a double cluster) night sky objects – both had the biggest impact on me when I started observing.

 

Bode’s Nebulae, M81, NGC 3031, UGC 5318, PGC 28630, MCG 12-10-10, CGCG 333-7, IRAS 09514+6918,2MASS 09553318+6903549 & Bode’s Nebulae, Bode’s Nebulae, Cigar Galaxy, Ursa Major A, M 82, NGC 3034, UGC 5322, PGC 28655, MCG 12-10-11, CGCG 333-8, Arp 337, IRAS 09517+6954. I thought perhaps I would not see the two galaxies M81 and M82 tonight. They seem to be easily washed out in my experience. However, I easily found them with 20mm eyepiece and then studied them in detail with my 6mm Ethos eyepiece.

The art of finding them is to extend the two corner stars of the saucepan’s pan through by the same length again and then a little bit more (about 15% more) and then tweak the scope a little bit west (90 degrees to line you just followed) – just a slight tweak and then I found I virtually dropped on to the galaxy pair. With the 6mm Ethos eyepiece, M82 does not show a great deal of detail tonight apart from a condensed brighter core and surrounding near circular (but not quite) peripheral regions – a lot rounder than M31. In contrast the 6mm eyepiece works wonders on M82, leading to hints of the central bisecting dark lane and two clear brighter knots wither side of it within the galaxy, one brighter than the other, as seen in photographs. The galaxy is long and thin consistent with its common name of the Cigar Galaxy.

 

M108, NGC 3556, UGC 6225, PGC 34030, MCG 9-18-98, CGCG 267-48, CGCG 268-1, IRAS 11085+5556. Amazingly, given its magnitude of +9.96, meaning that I doubted I would be able to observe this object, in practice I definitely saw this today. Very faint by direct vision but more easily seen with indirect vision, long and thin, central core. Earlier I would not have expected to see it but sky becoming more transparent…in the clear areas – unfortunately there is cloud coming in too now.

 

Hoping next to see the Owl Nebula close by M108……However, in the time it took me to write this note, the sky has now become almost completely covered with cloud, such is the speed that the clouds are moving tonight!

 

So, the only object visible for me to look at now is the Moon in which part of the sky it is still relatively clear of clouds. Wonderful views of craters along the terminator including a spectacular view of the crater Theophilus with high central peak.

 

Sky now completely clouded over so packed away at 12:31.

 

Just goes to show that in our area of the UK it is important to make use of any period of clear sky if you want to observe as they are often fleeting but views can be really enjoyable in those moments! I find my Dobsonian telescope is perfect for this, allowing me to nip out and in.

A brief but very enjoyable session – I am excited to be back at the scope under the night sky!

 

Andy

Total lunar eclipse from Streethay 21/1/2019 @ 05:00-05:40, Andy & Damian

Taken from front of Damian’s house – amazing to be able to say that we saw it! Blood red, clouds obscuring detail – although some members on the RAG WhatsApp group have published amazingly detailed images of the moon tonight so they must have caught a gap in the clouds.

Andy

  

See also this post:

Processed photo of total lunar eclipse from Streethay 21/1/2019