November 16th and 17th Observations

A bit of a story on these three objects. I observed these objects two nights in a row because on November 16th, 2009, these objects I observed, but not as well as I wanted. So the next night I was at a darker location and observed them prior to observing locations failing due to high humidity.

The first object is NGC 253 a mixed spiral galaxy in Sculptor. It has a listed magnitude of 7.1 and I used my XT10 with my 21mm and 13mm Stratus. This galaxy was very faint at first, then with averted vision and direct vision, a little more of it appeared. With patience and practicing I was able to see more. The galaxy runs northeast to southwest between two ninth or tenth magnitude stars. The core is somewhat bright, elliptical in shape and starlike. The edge is diffused and at 92x I could detect some faint hints of structure. This is one I will hopefully see again. I did not show a bright core here because in my sketch at the scope it kept coming and going.

NGC 288 is a globular cluster in Sculptor though O'Meara's guide says it is in Cassiopeia (I'll have to check that, you know me, sometimes I am tired and make mistakes). This is a nice globular and shows good details at 57x in which it is a nice ball, 92x and 240x show irregular core which is brighter than the halo. Several chains of stars give the globular an irregular shape on the edges. Fun to come back at high power and examine the core on this.

The last object is another galaxy in NGC 247 a galaxy in Cetus. It has a magnitude of 8.9 and I used my XT10 with my 21mm and 13mm Stratus. Seeing is a 6/10 and transparency is a 2/5. This is a nice looking spiral galaxy that given the right aperature and right conditions would be a great item to look at. This galaxy is very dim in the sky and is low in the sky making it harder to get good details. I can only see this galaxy with averted vision and in keeping one eye dark adapted. The galaxy has a small core bright, star like. Averted vision shows a halo around the core that is extremely faint. 92x showed more of the shape of the galaxy averted vision. No other structure is visible.

November 15th 2009 Observations

I won't have time until the weekend to upload the digital recording of this session, but I will. Here is what I did on the 15th of November, 2009. XT10, 13mm and 21mm Stratus; Seeing was around 6/10 and transparency 2-3/5.

I set up that evening and by 7:30p.m. I was observing my Herschel List. My first object was an old friend, NGC 457 the ET Cluster. NGC 457 is easy to find from Rhubach, just telrad there and head east. I know many call it the ET but for me this is the Owl Nebula. Richa cluster of stars with various magnitudes sticking out. A chain runs east to west and another chair north to south. The east to west chains make the arms and the north to south make the legs. This is one I always enjoy and use it in the fall for star parties.

My next object was NGC 456 another Open Cluster (get use to them) in Cassiopeia. NGC 456 is a small tight cluster at 57x, and appears as a faint fuzzy or as a halo in the eyepiece. Averted vision shows some stars peeping out. At 92x the brighter stars of the cluster come out at about 10th magnitude or so, with a hint of other stars. A poor cluster in terms of stars in the eyepiece. The SW has what appears to be a double star with the main star being around 5th or 6th magnitude.

My next object was yet another Open Cluster, NGC 637 in Cassiopeia. This is a 8.2 magnitude open cluster and it is easy to find. Go Segin, the last star in Cassiopeia adn then over to HIP 8362, a pretty double (the main is yellow, the companion is red or reddish); there is also a carbon star nearby that is fun. From HIP 8362 the double star, there are three bright stars of four total stars that are there. The third star is faint and from that one go down to two diagonal stars. The cluster is near there. At 92x it resembles a Y asterism. At 57x the cluster shows a halo with avered vision. This is a poor cluster looking at it in the eyepiece though it is medium rich in reality.

NGC 559 was the next open cluster on O'Meara's Herschel list. The cluster is in Cassiopeia. I used the 2000 Sky Atlas for this object as I could not follow O'Meara's large finder chart yet again. Please if you ever read this Stephen O'Meara, please revise your large finder charts in what is otherwise a wonderful book. From Segin I went to HIP 7625 then down to HIP 7400 and then to HIP 7088 a 7th magnitude star that is part of a triangle asterism where the top star looks like a double. NGC 559 is just to the northeast of HIP 7088. This is a small cluster with a halo at 57x. There is a chain of faint stars running NW to SW with a faint double visible at the SW end. This is a cluster that I will probably not visit again in some time.

The next object was yet another Open Cluster, NGC 659 which is in Cassiopeia. Listed at 8.2 magnitude I found that on this object I did not like O'Meara's directions. I used the Telrad to Ruchbach, then past M103 to a V formation of three stars. I then went down from the point, or the middle star to 41 Cassiopeia which is a double, and then worked my way up. This is a tiny cluster that is medium rich with fifty to one hundred stars at both 57x and 92x. Averted vision shows a ring of faint stars while direct vision reveals a halo of fainter magnitude stars wanting to come out. Because this cluster reveals more with blinking and averted vision, much like the blinking planetary nebula, for me, I've renamed this the Blinking Open Cluster for now. I have a sketch but blogger is not letting me post images into the blog so I'll have to come back and do that.

NGC 663 an Open Cluster in Cassiopeia is a most beautiful open cluster. I personally think Messier messed up and should have included this object in his catalog. Look at this and compare it to M103. This is a rich cluster of well over one hundred stars. There is a dark lane dividing the eastern part from the western part of this cluster. There is a chain of stars running west to east, arching slightly. There are some wonderful faint doubles located here and they do stick out. One fades from orange to white with conditions. Well worthy of a timed sketch but I have a couple of more items so I did not time sketch, just a rough sketch in pen on the observing paper. Definitely deserves to be looked at!!!!!!

NGC 654 was the final open cluster this night and it also is in Cassiopeia. It hasa magnitude of 6.4 and skies had improved to around a 7/10 in seeing and a 3/5 in seeing. This is a very dim and poor cluster that is next to a seventh magnitude sun. At 92x it makes an inverted V shape. There are two chain of stars with some variance in magnitude. It is important on this cluster to keep one eye dark adapted and to use averted vision to make out the details.