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2/16/2009

Observations on Jan. 18th, 29th, 30th, Feb. 1st, 2nd and 3rd

January 18th, 2009

NGC 2264 Christmas Tree Cluster
Seeing 7/10
Transparency 2/5
Time: 10:09p.m.
XT 8 and 21mm Stratus at 52x

I did not have a lot of time tonight to observe, and wanted to try to find and sketch this specific item. The humidity is high tonight here and my finder was not showing this cluster. Usually, it is quite easy to find in the 9x50 RA finder. The cluster is easy to find if you have a telrad. Use the telrad and go to Zeta Geminide. From there hop to a star diagonally down from Zeta Geminide and NGC 2264 is quite evident. I used my 21mm Stratus EP to find this at 52x and it was not only easily seen, but fit in the EP nicely. There is a very bright bluish star at the base with the rest of the bright stars making the outline/chain of the Christmas Tree shape. The cluser is medium rich, as I view about 50 or more stars in the cluster. No empty areas are present that suggest a nebula here. I will insert my sketch after I scan my sketches in.

January 29th, 2009

NGC 2392 Eskimo Planetary Nebula
Seeing: 8/10
Transparency: 4/5
XT 8 21mm Stratus at 52x, 9mm Expanse with 2x Shorty Barlow at 266x
Time: 8:30p.m.

Good skies tonight so I decided to go hunting, find some old familar sites and some new ones. Prior to coming out I had prepared a good list with charts from Starry Night Pro. I began in Gemni and started by using the telrad to get to Wasat. From Wasat I went east to one bright star in the finder and then to a bright star that is part of an asterism forming a U in the eyepiece (the U is more opened than the U I am typing). In the 21mm Stratus at 52x I saw NGC 2392, the Eskimo Nebula to the southeast with a neighboring star next to it. The planetary nebula really stuck out tonight and was easy to see even at low power.

After centering it, I knew I could bring magnification on this object so I brought out the 9mm Expanse and the 2x Shorty Barlow for 266x magnification. At 266x I canot only make out the nebululosity of the PN, but also the central star. The Eskimo was really bright tonight and a wonderful object to start with. The nebula is a rounded shape, and it is easy to see almost a sharp section and a diffused section. My UHC filter made the nebula stick out, but since it was near zenith it seems I had a better view without it. The middle and upper right appeared to have more glow tonight creating a slight bulge to the circle. This old friend was a wonderful thing to start the night off with.

NGC 2362 Tau Cluster or Mexican Jumping Bean
Seeing 8/10
Transparency 4/5
XT 8 13mm Stratus at 92x
Time: 10:56p.m.

Next I went to Canis Major which is the main object of the observations tonight. I telrad over to Sirius and for fun, I tried to see the pup. Of course, no good but it is worth the effort. From Sirius I jumped and went down to look at M41. A wonderful and beutiful cluster. Then from M41 I went down past the inversted triangle to Sigma and then down to O2 and then to Delta. From Delta I jumped to the star directly across and then over to NGC 2362. This was the one object I wanted to see tonight. Stephen O'Meara in his book The Caldwell Objects calls this the "Northern Jewel Box." What a marvellous open cluster this is indeed with Tau shinning 50,000 times brighter than our sun. There is a wide variety of brightness between the various stars, and I would say this is a strong medium cluster with almost 90 stars present of a variety of magnitudes. There are several chains of stars present, making a variety of shapes and reaching out from the central point of this cluster. I can see and I sketched a glow of unresolved stars that are present.
To me the cluster kinda of reminded me of looking down on a F-16, but as I review my sketches I don't see that now. This is a cluster that should have been included in Turn Left at Orion or other newbie books. I would love to look at Tau with a 8mm or 5mm Stratus. I gazed, observed and sketched here for over an hour.

NGC 2360 Open Cluster
Seeing: 8/10
Transparency: 4/5
XT 8 13mm Stratus at 92x
Time: 11:40p.m.

I next went back up to Sirius and jumped over Iota and then Gamma and then over to a star (27 SPA) opposite of Gamma to view NGC 2360 which is next to 27 SPA. This is a rich cluster with over 100 stars visible and a strong glow througout the cluster of unresolved stars. To the east of the cluster is an open area with very few stars that might harbor a dark nebula. I'm not experienced enough yet to know on that though. There are definite chains of stars visible and this cluster really reminds me of a mosquito in flight. There are about 20 brighter stars with many, many more medium to faint stars that are sticking out. Beautiful cluster. Please note I did not sketch it this night but on January 30th I returned to it. A fun cluster to observe.

January 30th, 2009
NGC 2359 Bright Nebula Thor's Hammer or The Duck

NGC 2207 Galaxy
Seeing: 8/10
Transparency: 4/5
XT 8 13mm Stratus 92x
Time: 12:30a.m. to 1:20a.m.

I have this down to observe and was able to star hop up up to its location. I put in my UHC filter but could not locate this object. I was either in the wrong area or just could not bring it out tonight.
I used the Small Wonders guide to try to find this galaxy but failed to bag it.

M108, M109 Galaxies
M97 Planetary Nebual (Owl Nebula)
Seeing: 8/10
Transparency 4/5
XT 8 13mm Stratus
Time: 12:30a.m. - 1:20a.m.

I was able to use my star charts to confirm that I was in the right area for these items, but I cannot get them to show. The Big Dipper is to the east where the greatest light pollution is so I have to assume that is impacting m seeing. By this time I was starting to get frustrated and I almost called it an evening but decided to try for some other Messier items to mark off toward my Astronomical League recognition.

M63 The Sunflower Galaxy
Seeing: 8/10
Transparency: 7/10
XT 8 13mm Stratus 92x
Time: 1:31a.m.

I went to Cor Caroli and then to UM 20. I then went to three stars that went up from left (bottom) to right (top) which are 23 CVN, 20 CVN and 19 CVN. The corner star on the right, 19 CVN the one highest up is where I went and then jumped diagonally up to that star which is HIP 54470. From HIP 64470 I worked my way back towards 19 CVN. As I came back I noticed two stars that made a L and next to the corner L is M63. M63 is a faint galaxy. The galaxy is face-on and from the structure I see it is a spiral. The edge of the galaxy is diffused and I don't see any dark or brighter lanes visible. No stars are visible in the galaxy nor would I expect it in an orange/yellow border in my XT 8. The more I look straight on and then with averted vision the more I begin to discern the core which is brighter than the other parts and is elongated, but brighter than the other diffused parts.

M51 Galaxy, The Whirlpool Galaxy, NGC 5195 a Galaxy
Seeing: 8/10
Trasparency: 4/5
XT 8; 13 mm Stratus 92x
1:58a.m.

I have tried finding this in the past and have failed, but tonight it was really easy. I started at Alkaid and jumped to CVN 24. Below CVN 24 is a asterism of 3 stars that form a triangle on its side. Diagnonally from the right corner star, HIP 66004 is M51, and its companion galaxy, NGC 5195. In the eyepiece using the 13mm Stratus I see two faint cores in both galaxies. M51 is face-on and I am able to see details of structure, with a hint of two arms. The edges are diffused with areas of sharpness defined. The core in M51 is definetly brighter than the rest of the galaxy. I could not see stars in the galaxy this night but my eyes are starting to tire.

NGC 5195 is face-on also but I cannot see as much detail. No hints of arms on this one and it actually looks a little more elognated to me than M51. The core is strong and evident but the galaxy difuses out from there, though the core is also compact. No stars visible in this galaxy.

M94 Croc Eye Galaxy
Seeing: 8/10
Transparency: 4/5
XT 8 13mm Stratus 92x
Time: 2:32a.m.

I used the telrad to go to Cor Caroli and in the finder is a star that is about halfway to Chara which is 10 CVn. At 10 CVn go straight up and I ran right into M94. This baby is face-on and M94 is VERY bright! The core is is extremely bright, much brighter than the rest of the galaxy and is very compact, yet large, looking like the eyeball of a croc. I can detect a hint of dust lanes but no stars are visible. One sprial arm was very evident. The best view is straight on but averted vision did show the diameter of the galaxy. This is a wonderful galaxy, and I will never forget seeing M31 for the first time, but this one is there with it. I think next time I view this one I am going to use more magnification. So far, this is my favorite observation in terms of a galaxy.

M65 and M66, a pair of Galaxies; Leo Triplet
Seeing: 7/10
Transparency: 3/5
XT 8 13mm Stratus at 92x
Time: 3:00a.m.

Leo was calling so I used the telrad to get to Chertan, Chort and then down to 73 Leo. From 73 Leo in the 13mm Stratus I simply went to the right in my eyepiece and there they both were! M65 is the closest to 73 Leo. M65 has a faint core that is slightly detected but I believe this one is more only slightly face-on. It is suggested that M65 may have had a tidal disruption.
M66 has a bright and dense core that is evident. The galaxy is face on, but elongated out like M65 north to west. The edge is diffused on M66 with not stars present. Conditions worsened during the observation so I will return here again.

M95 Galaxy
Seeing: 7/10
Transparency 3/5
XT 8 13mm Stratus at 92x
Time: 3:30 a.m.

Relatively easy to find. Start at 73 Leo and go west and slightly down to 2 stars together (Sky Pocket Atlas pg. 34). To the south-west you'll see another star by itself, so go there. Now go west to a star and I saw M96 and then M95. I went north and M105 and NGC 3384 were vibible.
M95 does look like a Tie Fighter in a way to me, as it has dark lanes coming off the center of the core to the outer portions. The galaxy diffuses as you move out. The core is compact and bright, and there are hints of structure present. Due to time I did a rough sketch on the observation but need to return and sketch this object.

M96 and M105 and NGC 3384
Seeing: 7/10
Transparency: 3/5
XT 8 and 13mm Stratus 92x and 9mm Expanse & 2x Barlow at 266x
3:55a.m.

I described on my entry on M95 how I jumped from Cherton to 73 Leo to two stars to the west of 73 Leo to southwest to a single star. From that single star I went west and ran into M95 and M96. M96 is a bright, slightly tilted face-on galaxy and the core is also bright and extended with a stellar nucleus.

M105 is an elliptical galaxy and has a wonderful oval shape to it. It seems or appears nearly perfect in its shape. It lies north of M96 and appears to be face-on. No structure is visible on M105 and the edges are diffused. The core is brighter than the rest of the galaxy but nearly as big. The fuzzy haze dominates the shape here. No stars are visible. Like M95 no sketch is made of M96 or M105 except for a rough one on the observation sheet. I must return to do a formal sketch, and decide whether to include M95 and M96 in one sketch, or M96, M105 and NGC 3384 or M105 and NGC 3384 in one sketch. Hmmm . . . .

It was super late, almost an all nighter and I was tired but thrilled. After the disappointment of not finding several obects in a row, the night ended up being a wonderful experience. It was one of those nights that I wished the sun had stayed down for about 6 more hours . . .

January 30th, 2009

A very cool evening so I decided to attack some NGC objects I've wanted to bag. I haven't used my Sky Atlas 2000 because it is not lamanted and I fear the frost getting on it. So I've been using charts from Starry Night Pro and those have been really good to work with. I printed off charts to the items I wanted to find and then attacked them.

NGC 2360 and IC 2163
Seeing: 7/10
Tranparency 4
XT 8; 13mm Stratus; 2x Shorty Barlow
10:00p.m.

Tonight I started by using the telrad to get to Mirzam. Below Mirzam is a right triangle and from that right triangle I went to the star in the point and then over to the top star on the narrow side. I then went to the corner star, HP30011. I noticed a double and another double on the chart and sure enough, theree was NGC 2207 and IC 2163. Both are very, very faint and NGC 2207 shows an apparant magnitude of 11.8. I can see a small core in NGC 2207 with some hint of difused nebulosity around it. No arms are evident, though the galaxy appears face on. The core is compact and faint as stated above I would really like to see these objects under a true dark sky and see what details I could coax out. It is cool to know that I found them. For the details above I used my 13mm Stratus with the 2x Shorty Barlow for 184x magnification.

NGC 2360 Open Cluster
Seeing: 7/10
Transparency: 4/5
XT 8; 13mm Stratus 92x
11:00p.m.

I returned to sketch this open cluster tonight.

NGC 2359 Thor's Hammer; The Duck; Bright Nebula
Seeing 7/10
Transparency 4/5
XT 8; Stratus 13mm @92x; 21mm Stratus @53x; UltraBlock NB Filter
11:35p.m

I am determiend to see this but even though I jumped to the right spot three times and used my Ultrablock NB filter and could not find it. The first time I thought with averted vision I could make out the nebula but I wasn't sure. Nothing tonight though I was in the right space. Perhaps next time? By the time I had tried to bag this nebula it was too late and time to go to bed.

February 1st and 2nd, 2009

NGC 1931 Open Cluster with 4 stars and Nebulosity
Seeing 7/10
Transparency 4/5
XT 8, 21mm Stratus 53x; 13mm Stratus 92x;
8:23p.m.

On February 1st I went to Auriga and looked at M37 and M38. I began by using the telrad to go to Elnath and from there went to M36 which was clearly visible. As I mentioned, I visited M37 and M38 and then went back to M36. From M36 I jumped over to Psi Aur. From Psi Aur I went down to two bright doubles below it (saw a triangle next to it to confirm) and then I jmped 2 stars to HIP 25787 to 2 little star to the right (they are faint). I went diagnonally then I saw a four star box with nebulosity around one star. With the 21mm Stratus it was faint so I went to the 13mm Stratus and put in the Ultraband NB filter and bang, the nebulosity came right out. At first it seemed to only be around the star, but then with the filter the nebulosity came right out. Had a good fifty minutes sketching after observing for twenty minutes. A fun object to bag.

NGC 2261 Hubble Variable Nebula
Seeing: 7/10
Transparency: 4/5
XT 8; 13mm Stratus 92x; Ultraband NB Filter
9:47p.m.

A nice jump for a nice looking object. I went to 15 Mon (the bright star in the Christmas Tree Cluster) and go past HIP 31955 on the left in a refractor, pass the two stars together one being HIP31955. Now jump pass TYC750-1749-1 to HIP 31996. With dark adapted eyes find 2 set of 2 stars that form a box, next to along three stars spread out to form 3 stars tight together. From the bottom of the corner across toa bright star and diagnonally and before the next you have it. it is critical to have dark adapted eyes on this wonderful object. It would be better without the First Quarter Moon rising. There is a pin point of light at the top like a star and the nebula flows back from it. The edge is diffused and only gray is visible. My filter did not make any difference. I did two different sketches at low and high powers.

NGC 2244 Open Cluster and NGC 2237 Rosette Nebula
Seeing: 7/10
Transparency: 4/5
XT 8; 21mm Stratus 53x;
10:00p.m.

Very easy to find. Since I was seeing NGC 2264 the Christmas Tree Open Cluster and NGC 2261 the Hubble Variable Nebula I just came down to 13 Mon then down to CR 97, which is a triangle of three stars that point right at NGC 2244. I tried and failed to see NGC 2237, the Rosette Nebula with my Ultra NB Filter. I'm sure I failed to see the Rosette because of the moon being out tonight. NGC 2244 is a very bright cluster easily seen in the 9x50 RA finder or even in my binculars. The center of the cluster has three main branches of two stars with many light diagnonals around them. In the eyepiece this cluster really looked like a scorpian to me for some reason. Fun cluster to sketch and overall I was content with the sketch; not totally happy but I could mark improvements on them.

NGC 1980; B33 The Horsehead; NGC 2024 the Flame Nebula
Seeing: 7/10
Transparency 2/5
XT 8: 13mm Stratus 92x; Ultrabrand NB Filter
11:00p.m. - 11:30p.m.

I was able to view NGC 1980 but will wait for a formal observation and sketch when there is no moon. B33 and NGC 2024 where not viewable at all of course. I need much darker skies.

February 3rd, 2009

NGC 2359 Thor's Helmet: The Duck
Seeing: 7/10
Transparency: 2/5
XT 8; 21mm Stratus 53x
12:00a.m.

I nailed the location again, and again thought I saw a slight glimpse, but nothing resolved. Too much moonlight again. I'll wait for a nice clear sky and no moon in the sky.

NGC 2022: Planetary Nebula
Seeing: 7/10
Transparency: 2/5
XT 8; 13mm Stratus @92x; 9mm Expanse at 133x, 266x with 2x Shorty Barlow
12:42a.m.

Very faint planetary nebula that requires dark adapted eyes to see and knowing what a PN looks like. To get there I went to Meissa in Orion and then hopped to Ori 2. From Ori 2 I looked for a triangle, then an asterism of a L. Look now for another upside down triangle and go dianonally to the bright star. Now up one star and then right two stars. She is right underneath that location.
It takes averted vision to see this object in my 13mm Stratus EP. Once I got this object down, it came in actually pretty large. At 133x the shape came in more and there is no doubt this is a planetary nebula. 133x brings out more of the shape and more of its brightness. At 266x the bluriness came in due to conditions and as Orion was beginning to fade into the west. The PN is not round but is more like a football in shape. Central star is not viewable.

NGC 1700 Galaxy FAILED
Seeing: 7/10
Transparency: 2/5
XT 8; 13m Stratus 92x
8:00p.m.

I got into the correct position and though I could get a hint of it but just too much moonlight from the waxing gibbious moon.

NGC 1535 Planetary Nebula FAILED
Seeing 7/10
Transparency: 2/5
XT 8; 13mm Stratus 92x
8:25p.m.

I really messed up on this object. I was there perfectly according to the star chart but could not find this object. It probably didn't help that I was rushing and looking for a globular cluster and not a planetary nebula. I probably saw it but overlooked it. I'll try again on the next good clear night.

NGC 1232 Galaxy FAILED
Seeing 7/10
Transparency: 2/5
XT 8; 13mm Stratus 92x
8:48p.m.

I waited too long to get to this object tonight. I should have gone here first. By the time I got here it was way too close to my horizon. I was in the right location but no galaxy. Too much light from the waxing gibbious moon I believe since this is a faint galaxy.

IC 418 Planetary Nebula
Seeing 6/10
Transparency 2/5
XT 8; 21mm Stratus at 53x; 13mm Stratus @ 92x and 2x Shorty Barlow @ 194x
9:12p.m.

I started by using the telrad to get to Rigel and jumpt down to k Lep. From k Lep I went to Labbda Lep and then I jumped to HIP25426. In the eyepiece I noticed three stars forming a mountain or inverted triangle. From the bottom right corner star I went diagnonally to the next star which is really IC418. The gibbious moon is impacting my view. I can see the cntral star with averted vision in this PN, and it remains until I take my eye off IC 418. IC 418 is ring shaped around the central star. I see a hint of blue with this PN, but mostly it is gray. The edge is diffused fading away as you move from the central star. The central star is a bright white. Disrubution of light is regular at times and not at others, probably due to the conditions. The higher the moon rises, the less of this I see. No other stars are present in the nebula. A nice PN to view.

I've decided to really go after PN's since I really think they are rather cool and might be an area to focus on not only for my observations, but in studying as well. I wonder if that happens as one gets into this hobby. I'll still complete the lists I am going for, but I think it is natural to find something that excites one and to pursue observing and learning about them. I'm sure that changes over time.

I really like the sketch I did on this item. Not perfect but I feel I am starting to capture some of my goals like variable stars, correct placement of stars and objects, and keeping my spacing accurate due to correct placement.

I'll be spending my evenings this week getting ready for next weekend's clear skies, getting specific maps printed off and colliminating my scope, and spending time with other interests, work etc.

Clear Skies to each of you,

Jay









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