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.