Astro Art Supernova Type Ia

Well, it snowed all weekend though not sticking on the roads or cement since it is too warm. So tonight after I got done getting ready for the work week, I played in GIMP and created my first astro-art, a Type Ia Supernova. It's ok, but I learned a lot in doing it. I have and will post a tutorial of how to use GIMP to refine one's sketches or to create a new sketch from the visual observation/sketch. So enjoy it or not, I had fun making it. Hopefully I can observe one night since I just need to go after some open clusters.


February 9th and 10th 2010 Observing Session

I spent part of the night working with a friend comparing some eyepieces and that was enjoyable. He had a 66mm refractor and it was fun to see the views that he got out of it!

This night I started in the constellation of Gemini, and went to M35. My target was NGC 2158, which is right next door.

1. NGC 2158 Open Cluster in Gemni; Mag.: 8.6; Size: 5 arc min.; 2/9/10; 03:52 UT; Seeing: II; Conditions: Calm, no wind, clear, some high thin clouds to the north; XT10, 21mm & 13mm Stratus, 5mm Hyperion & 2x barlow; 57x, 92x, 240x, 480x.

Tight open cluster at 92x and shows a halo of stars wanting to pop out with higher magnification. I brought higher magnification up to 480x which was too much. A fun open cluster.

2. NGC 2129 Open Cluster in Gemini; Mag. 6.7; Size 6'; 2/9/10; 03:17 UT; XT10, 21mm Stratus @ 57x;

Double star is very evident at the center of this open cluster. A small loose cluster that is a poor cluster in terms of stars. In looking at the sketch I realized there may be a dark lane running west to east (west is to the left hand corner basically), or just to the right of the bottom right of the double stars. Averted vision hints at other stars wanting to peep out.

3. NGC 1501 Blue Oyster Planetary Nebula in Camelopardalis; Mag. 10.6; Size: 56"x48"; Seeing II; Conditions: Good, clear, no wind. XT10, 21mm & 13mm Stratus, 2x barlow, Orion Ultrablock Narrowband Filter

Relatively easy to get to this object. At 57x wasn't sure if I could see it or not but at 92x the PN was evident, though faint. Putting in the Orion Narrowband Filter the PN stuck right out. At 92x the PN appeared grayish with a tint of blue and just a circle or ball. Next, I barlowed the 13mm with the Ultrablock NB filter and a the PN changed from the round ball to more of a ring with fuzziness in the center. The central star is not evident, its magnitude is 14.45 and it is a variable so it can go fainter or stronger depending. At 184x there was more of a bluish tinge to the gray. A fun planetary to view and gaze on.

4. NGC 1502 Open Cluster in Camelpardalis; Mag. 6.0; Size: 20'; Seeing: II; Conditions, Clear, no wind, cold; XT10, 13mm Stratus @92x;

Small and very tight open cluster but a beautiful open cluster to enjoy. The OC is shaped like a X, and it has a beautiful double star, Struve 485 at its center. Struve 485 is dazzling. This is a medium rich open cluster with other fainter stars popping out. It is next to Kemble's Cascade and with NGC 1501 is worth visiting in this part of the sky. I will be editing this sketch to correct the halo which I did not mean to be there.

 5. NGC 1961 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Camelopardalis; Mag. 11.0; Size: 4.2'x4.0'; seeing II; Conditions: Clear where looking, clouds beginning to move in from the west; cold. XT10, 13mm Stratus @92x.

This mixed spiral galaxy is very, very, faint. I mean, really faint. It took about 10 minutes of rhythmic breathing to identify the core, which is like a very faint star that faded in and out. Once I got the core to stay, I then used averted vision and more breathing to detect a very faint halo around the core that goes east to west. Dark skies are a must on this one and dark adaptation is needed.

NGC 1961 is a highly disturbed spiral galaxy with asymmetric spiral arms. Often this means an interaction or merger with another galaxy but that has not happened. One theory has its shape coming from interaction with gas that is involved with the group of galaxies it is interacting with (10 galaxies total). The galaxy is estimated to be one of the largest galaxies in our neck of the universe and with its groups of galaxies, is about 171 million light years away.

Two other objects were observed but I'll put them in later, but they don't have sketches.


February 8th 2010 Observing Session

FEBRUARY 8th & 9th, 2010

Well, I've gotten two nights in a row for observing and it looks like I can go again tonight! Lets hope I can keep the blog updated. Focus is on the Herschel list and I am trying to get through January's list since I had no seeing during January to get out. I am going to use moving forward the great planetary observer E. M. Antoniadi's scale for visual conditions. If your unfamiliar with the scale here it is:

IPerfect seeing, without a quiver.
IISlight undulations, with moments of calm lasting several seconds.
IIIModerate seeing, with larger air tremors.
IVPoor seeing, with constant troublesome undulations.
VVery bad seeing, scarcely allowing the making of a rough sketch.

It is up to you as the amateur to determine based on experience in your area what type of skies your seeing but this tends to be the most reliable.

1. NC 1964 Spiral Galaxy in Lepus. Feb. 8th, 2010; Mag. 10.7; Size: 5.0'x2.1'; Seeing II; XT10 w 13mm Stratus;

Barely discernible at 57x looking more like a star. At 92x a bright inner core is visible and using averted vision I could discern a faint halo running what appears to be SW to NE. This is not a very discernible galaxy from a LP zone. Sits next to a 9th (?) magnitude star and it could be thought to be a double. O'Meara's H-400 guide finder directions and map helped A LOT with this object.

2. NGC 1786 Reflection Nebula in Orion; Feb. 8th 2010; 3:59 UT; Seeing: II; Mag: - ; Size: 5.0'x3.0'; XT10 with 13mm Stratus; Orion Ultrablock Filter

Again, O'Meara's directions are spot on for this object. Why does that help? If your in a LP zone of Orange to Yellow or further, his directions help you to get to those locations and then its up to the equipment and to your eyes and skills to pull out the object. This is a very faint, very, very faint Reflection Nebula and is very easy not to see. I had to really slow down and take my time on this one to get it, and averted vision is the key to bagging it. Fans out S to SW in a fan shape. Dark adaptation is a must as is dark skies and the darker the skies the better.

3. NTC 2024 "The Flame" in Orion Reflection Nebula; Feb. 8, 2010; 04:30UT; Seeing II; Mag: ~7th; Size: 30'x30'; XT10 21mm & 13mm Stratus, H-Beta Filter;

The dark lane was very dim but the filiments really stood out tonight. It came and went with seeing conditions, and I saw it twice. The first time I saw it it was really visible. 92x brought out the flame a lot but the best views were in the 21mm Stratus. I did not sketch this item.

4. NGC 1980 Emission Nebula in Orion; Feb. 8th, 2010; 05:20 UT; Seeing II; Mag. - ; Size: 14'x14'; XT10 21 & 13mm Stratus; No Filter

Beautiful emission nebula that I feel is overlooked by its neighbor M42. Soft halo surrounds Iota Orionis. Soft filiments can also be seen. Iota Orionis is a beautiful triple star. I did a hand sketch and feel each of us should view this wonderful object this winter.

5. NGC 1999 Refection Nebula in Orion; Mag. 9.3; Size: 2'x2'; Seeing II; Little to no wind, clear, crisp and cold; XT10, 13mm Stratus; 2/8/10; 06:09 UT

O'Meara was spot on but so is the Sky Pocket Atlas. At 92x the Reflection Nebula showed without the need of a filter. It has a star that seems centered in it at 92x. At 184x (2x barlow with the 13mm Stratus) the nebula was tremendous with the NW edge is brighter then the rest of the nebula. For me the halo goes from a ball at 92x to an ireegular form at 104x. Another fun reflection nebula to look at while Orion is up.

6. NGC 3034 (M82) Irregular Galaxy (O'Meara lists it as a Spiral Galaxy) in Ursa Major. Mag. 8.4; Size: 11.2'x4.3'; Seeing II; XT10 21mm and 13mm Stratus, 2x barlow; 2/9/10; 07:15 UT

It's listed so I went and visited M81 and M82 this night and both were just fantastic. NGC 3034 showed fantastic detail. At 184x the black lane was clearly visible as was mottling in the galaxy itself. The cigar shape was clearly evident and I did do a sketch of this item. I will include the sketch after I have scanned it. A wonderful item that night, one of the best views I have had of the object.

7. NGC 3077 Peculiar Galaxy in Ursa Major; Mag: 9.8; Size:5.5'x4.1'; Seeing: II; XT10; 21mm & 13mm Stratus; 07:33 UT; 2/9/10

This is a small and bright galaxy that at first appeared star like in the core for me. Averted vision brought out the shape of the galaxy. Sits next to an 8th magnitude star. I have sketch but haven't found it so once I do I will scan it in. So if you read the last two entries and the sketches are there know that I added them.

8. NGC 2976 Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major. Mag.: 10.2; Size: 5.0'x2.8'; Seeing: II; XT10 & 13mm Stratus. 2/09/10, 07:57UT

You'll need a good atlas for this object or O'Meara's directions. At 92x this galaxy has a very faint halo seen best with averted vision. Nothing to write home about but a fun challenge to find in LP skies.

9. NGC 2787 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major. 2/9/10, 08:30 UT; Mag: 10.8; Size: 3.5'x2.4'; XT10 & 13mm & 21mm Stratus.

Very faint spiral galaxy best seen at 92x and I had to use averted vision to bagAdd Image this object. The position of this object with the sky glow from the Salt Lake City metro/urban area is impacting my view of this object. Again, it is a faint glow in the enter with diffusion around the core that fades out and fades fast. No hint of any other structure.



Observing Session February 4th, 2010

Well, I got out last night from around 7:00p.m. Mountain Daylight Time or 02:00 UT until 11:00p.m. Mountain Daylight Time or 06:00 UT. At 06:00 UT the clouds streamed in ending what had been an excellent night.

I began the night setting up my XT10. Since doing several main mods I have enjoyed using the scope. A friend Craig and I tightened up the altitude bolts and I have made several other mods over the last month. One was to add Scope Gripps to the unit, replacing the spring tension that came with the scope. I also added some Scope Totes to the scope and now I don't have an issue with slippage in the altitude of the scope. I can tilt the tube to around 45 degrees and using the totes the tube comes right out from the base. Great mods to the scope and in another post I discuss what else I have done and post some pictures.

Tonight my task was to catch up on some Herschels that I haven't been able to see because of the weather. My goal tonight was to hopefully stay out til 5:00a.m. local time in order to get caught up on as many objects on the list because I have had so few days to observe.

I began tonight by checking collimation. I picked Mars and the planet showed nicely in the 21mm, 13mm Stratus EP's, but not so good at 200x. 133x looked okay so I checked the collimation which was good and figured the seeing was impacting my view.

The first object tonight was NGC 1857, an open cluster in Auriga. This is a very faint cluster of stars that lies about 45' south-southwest of Lambda Aurigae. This is a poor open cluster, that is small and tight. Using averted vision is a must on this OC in order to see the stars wanting to peep our. When I put in my 13mm Stratus some of these stars came out, with others hinting that they wanted to come out. The cluster surrounds a bright seventh or so magnitude star. I did not sketch this Open Cluster.

The next object I went after was NGC 1907, another Open Cluster in Auriga. The open cluster is located south of M38. It is again a very tine open cluster and very compact. It is a poor cluster made up of a variety ranges of magnitudes of stars. Averted vision reveals a hint of stars that want to peep out also. No sketch was made of this item.

I then returned to another object I viewed on 2/1/09, NGC 1931. This is an Emission and Reflection Nebula located in Auriga. The easiest way was to go to M38 and then head south to south-east and you'll run into it. There are four stars that seem to make a nice square and the bottom left one has nebulosity around it that sticks out. It can look kinda of like a planetary nebula in my opinion but it is not. While examining it NGCZ 1931 looks like a nebulous cloud with a stellar core. Averted vision shows the cloud of nebulosity larger than with direct vision. Some people call this a miniature of M42 from photographs taken of it. I did sketch this one and though it does not look like the photograph, it is representative of what I saw in the eyepiece. A fun object to go after when looking at M38.

My next object was NGC 2281, another open cluster in Auriga. This open cluster has a diamond shape asterism near the core of the cluster. The cluster itself is very loose and I felt pretty bright. The stars around the core make up various asterisms around it. Looking at it overall I also see a U pattern around the cluster. A nice open cluster to take a look at right now.

My next object is NGC 2169 in the constellation of Orion. I used my XT10 with the 21mm and 13mm Stratus. Very easy to find. Go to Xi and Nu Orionis (completes Orion's right hand) now go to the midpoint between the two stars and go down, you'll see it easily in 10x50 binoculars or in a finder scope. This is a poor open cluster because of star count but don't let that stop you from seeing this open cluster. Positioned right in a refractor it can look like the number 37. My sketch being done in a reflector won't show that. It is divided into two parts with a lane in between them. O'Meara says both part look like a modified Greek letter Lambda or inverted Y and I can agree with that. This one gave me a wow factor, not a huge wow, but it was the wow for the evening so go see this one this winter season!

The next Open Cluster is NGC 2194 in the constellation of Orion. I used the XT10, with a 13mm Stratus at 92X with seeing at 8/10 and Transparency at IV. To find this you need 73 and 74 Orionis. NGC 2194 is about 30' to the northwest. O'Meara's map and directions are really good. Go slow, and sweep gently and you get it. NGC 2194 is a very faint open cluster that you can scan just pass if your not looking. It has a definite halo around it hinting of more stars wanting to peep out. I can see some strands of the halo sticking out also and some mottling (captured in the actual sketch but not in the digital). Averted vision pops this cluster out. In considering the night, I actually think this open cluster gave me fun than any other because the cluster allowed me to work it to get details out of it. I will return to this one and hit it hard with some magnification. So if you want a fun but overly hard challenge, check this one out also. I failed to label west but it is in the left top part of the sketch as it is with the other sketches from this observation.

My last object was NGC 2186, an open cluster in Orion. I followed O'Meara's directions which worked the best though I had to use the 21mm Stratus needing the larger FOV that EP offered. This is another challenging open cluster and you have to really be slow and deliberate in finding it. Thankfully O'Meara's small map made this one so much easier to locate. Thanks! It is a poor open cluster in terms of number of stars. The cluster is elliptical in shape and if you use averted vision you'll see another dozen or so stars scattered around the center of the cluster. Fun challenge, okay looking but not a wow. The fun here is in finding it. No sketch was done as the clouds were starting to cover up the sky.

Nice to have a night out and nice to get some of my objects I wanted to see off the list. It looks like I should get three or four nights next week but one never knows about the weather of late! Here's hoping your skies are good.