March 15/16 and March 20th

March 15th and March 16th, 2009 Observation

On the evening of March 15th and lasting to the early morning of March 16th I was able to locate, view and sketch M78, M42, Sirius and Sirius B the Pup, M108, M97, M106, M99.

I began by going to Canis Major and looking at Sirius. It was rather a fancy after studying about the Pup to see if using my 8 inch reflector to see if I could see the Pup. Sirius showed up very well at 92x in my 13mm Stratus. Conditions were really good and I had no extra light pollution this night. Seeing was 9/10 and transparency was 4.5/5. Skies were calm and these were some of the best conditions I've had in the backyard at my house. At 184x I caught a glimpse of the Pup and decided to take it up to 240x and then 266x with a barlow and at both I was able to pull the Pup. The Pup faded in and out and then held for around a minute or two. I confirmed using the charts I had. The Pup is a small white star that was father out from Sirius than I thought it would be, about three rings out from Sirius. A great sky and great conditions helped me to capture the Pup.

Next I viewed M42 as a farewell since it is fading into the west so quickly and weather here in is not looking good from now to the end of the month. Next I went decided to see M78 and though I've seen it before, I confirmed how I find M78. I went to Alnitak and then up to HIP26736 and then up to HIP26893. I noticed the asterism of arrow pointing left. From that star I went up diagonally from HIP 26736 to M78. The two tenth magnitude stars are evident as is the fan like wisp behind the stars (first time I have seen that). I really enjoyed observing this object tonight.

Since it was right before 10:00p.m. and conditions were really good I decided to try some objects that I've had a hard time finding. I used the Telrad to go to Merak and went up to a bright star which is down from Merak passing a lesser star on the way. Next I went up further (down) and then to the left following a chain of stars going NW to SE. At the end of the fifth star in the chain, just above and to the right is M108. The core is faint and small at 92x and I saw the core before I saw any other part of the galaxy. Using averted vision at the core the galaxy showed herself. I eventually got to where I could discern the galaxy without aveted vision but the details came with averted vision. M108 is edge on, faint and diffused, though the edges are well defined. The core is brighter then the rest of the galaxy and no stars are visible in the dust lanes.

My next object was M97. I started from M108 and went NE to a three star L that is on its side. Up from the conern star of the L is M97. M97 was much bigger than any other planetary nebula I have seen. I was able to view it tonight visually first, though when I used my UltraBand NB filter I could see much more in terms of size and brightness. With the 13mm Stratus at 92x no details were evident, just a grayish circle or blob. I tried a 9mm with a 2x barlow but it just didn't capture the PN at 266x. So I went down to 133x and finished the observation and the sketch. The nebula is a circle in shape (disk shape I believe it is called) and the edge is sharply defined. No color other than gray is visiable at 133x. On the north edge of the PN there is a star visible but not the central star which is not visible. My mind wants to say I could detect the eye shapes of the owl's face but my mind knows better. . .

I next tried M109 but failed to located it though according to charts I was in the right area. During this time a neighbor turned on a back porch light and I think that impacted me. Luckily they turned it off after around twenty minutes when their dog was done with its business. After failing at M109 I went back to Phecda and jumped to 5 CV and then to 3CV. My object now was M106. From 3 CV I jumpted to to HIP60125 and then to a brighter star. From the brighter star I worked my way up north and found M106. The galaxy is a spiral that is face on. There are bands visible while the edges of the galaxy are somewhat diffused. The core is very bright, much brighter than the rest of the galaxy and the core is very compact. No stars are visible in the lanes.

My last object was M99. I went to Denebola and then over to CB 6. From CB 6 I went over to HIP59941 and then down to HIP60089 ( the three stars form an inverted L. M99 is next to HIP60089 and I could see it visually. Averted vision though really hlep to make out the galaxy and its shape and details. M99 is a face on spiral, with diffused edges. The core is just slightly brighter than the rest of the galaxy, lanes are visible and there are no stars visible in the lanes. My sixteen year old daughter now came out around 12:40a.m. and reminded me I had to go to work the next day. Oh well, I wish I could have not gone in and stayed out.

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