Pit n Pole, Rush Valley Utah, West Desert, March 20-21, 2010

Well, I got in one other session before the moon interfered with driving 45 minutes to my local dark site in the West Desert of Utah.  If your interested in the views during the day time, if you go and search August of 2009 you'll find pictures and directions to this site. This site is a wonderful site. Dark Sky finder puts it in the Green because of glow from the north I would assume, but a club member told me on a reading the southeast, south, southwest and zenith come in as a gray to black reading. I'll have to get the actual reading (7.0 to 7.3 I believe but don't quote me on that right now).

All of my sketches in this entry are actual sketches with some enhancing in GIMP.  Yep, that freebie software. Why not use it and love it!

Edit: I am posting images for the Digital Sky Network for comparisons. Something I have done in the past but haven't.  Note,  based on input at from Jake Saloranta  I have gone back to my notes and updated NGC 3631.  I an issue at times with numbers and with items and flipping them. The arm in 3631 should be pointing eastward not westward. I have attempted to make the correction (and it is viewable on the original sketch). 

March 20th to 21st, 2010
Pit n Pole, Rush Valley Utah, West Desert
Conditions for the session remain the same so I will not quote them on each entry: Clear, cold, no wind, low humidity. Seeing 9/10, Transparency 5/5; Antoniadi Scale: I upon reflection.
Instrument on all observations: XT10
Eyepieces: 21mm Stratus as a finder, 13mm Stratus and 2x barlow. Magnifications, 57x, 92x, 184x.

Date: March 20th, 2010
Time: 03:57 UT or 08:57pm MST
Object: NGC 3184 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
RA 10h 18m 3s
Dec +41 25'
Mag: 9.4
Size: 7.5' x 7.0'
XT10, 13mm Stratus, 2x Barlow

I used my Sky Pocket Atlas to get to this object, foregoing O'Meara's charts and directions. Just easier for me tonight I guess.  There is a eleventh magnitude star to the north of the core, don't confuse it for the core. Averted vision shows with breathing technique (hyperventilating for a few seconds) a semi-bright core with a halo of diffusion around it.  There is a hint of an arm.  Averted vision also increases the size of this galaxy and brings out the eleventh magnitude star a little more.  Core is to the north of that star.  Good view at 92x.

Object: NGC 3198 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Ursa
Time: 05:44 UT; 10:44pm MST
RA 10h 19m 9s
Dec +45 33'
Mag 10.3
Size: 9.2'x3.5'
XT10, 13mm Stratus, 2x barlow, 92x & 184x

Easy to fnd from NGC 3184 using the Sky Pocket Atlas, which takes one right to this galaxy.  This is a beautiful, elongated galaxy, with an irregular shape.  Very diffused with the brightness at the center where the core should be but the core doesn't stick out.  Definitely seeing mottling along the edge. Averted vision shows a small and bright core, confirms the mottling.  Averted vision also shows an extended length to this galaxy. This is a fun object to tease to bring out more detail.  The galaxy runs north to south, and there are some smaller eleventh to twelfth magnitude stars nearby.

Date: 03/21/2010
Time: 12:17am MST/07:17 UT
Object: NGC 3310 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
Mag. 10.8
Size: 3.5'x3.2
RA 10h 18m 7s
Dec +53 30'
Instruments&Eyepieces: XT10, 13mm Stratus, 2x Barlow, 92x & 184x

The galaxy is just below a very bright star (sounds familiar eh?).  The galaxy appears similar to a bright planetary nebula. The core is very bright and stellar in its looks. The glow/halo around the core is like the nebulosity of a planetary nebula but is the actual galaxy as this one is face on.  The edges are diffused. Very round in shape, no other structure or detail is evident other than that which I have listed.

 Date: 3/21/2010
Time: 07:36 UT; 12:36am MST
Object: NGC 3556 or M108, Barred Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
Mag: 10.0
Size: 8.1'x2.1'
RA 11h 11m 5s
Dec +55 40'
Instrument & Eyepieces: XT10, 13mm Stratus, &2x barlow; 92x & 184x

Been here before when doing the Messier and several others to just observe it.  Very long ellipse on this galaxy, lots and lots of mottling on this galaxy.  There are some dark patches going on. The core is stellar like and small, the galaxy is elongated with averted vision and more mottling are evident. There are also several dark patches around the core to observe.

M97 at this site is tremendous also. No filter is needed at all. The large round shape is brilliant with a hint of the eyes.

 Date: March 21st, 2010
Time: 08:30 UT, 1:30am MST
Object: NGC 3631 Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
RA 11h 21m
Dec +53 10'
Mag: 10.4
Size: 5.5'x4.6'
Instrument & Eyepieces: XT10, 13mm Stratus, 2x Barlow, 92x & 184x

This is a faint galaxy with a very round halo, being face on I would assume.  Very bright core on this galaxy.  Core is really sharp and structure is evident.  The core is brighter than the halo surrounding it.  Possible arm to the north, curving around to the north, and it is small and tight. Some mottling is also evident. Very pretty galaxy to observe from a dark site.

I observed about 6 other objects this night, but they are not on the Herschel list (including M97) so I will post those sketches another time.  Cheers, may you have clear skies when you want them, and great seeing.

March 15, 2010 Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah

I have been fighting a nasty cold that turned into laryngitis and bronchitis and I had parent teacher conference this week so I haven't had a lot of time to get caught up here. Well, hopefully today resolves that. I almost went out in the backyard with my 8 inch reflector/dob but I still was feeling up to snuff. I want to get some live moon crater sketching in and some double observing. That will have to wait til the end of April though.

My observing location this night was a local place called Pit n Pole, found in the middle of the Rush Valley in Utah's West Desert.  It's about halfway to the Dugway Proving Grounds, not an area you want to go to and is on an old lake bed. It can get humid there, as in most places in Utah in the fall, winter and spring (freezing frost).  Tonight though I had no such issues, wonderful weather.

09:31 MST/04:31 UT
Seeing 9/10
Antoniadi Scale: II to I
Conditions: Clear, Cold/Brisk, no wind
NGC 2782 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Lynx
Mag: 11.6
Size: 3.8'x3.9'
RA 9hr 14m 1s
Dec +40 07
Eyepiece: 13mm Stratus @92x, 2x barlow providing 184x

Very dim galaxy requiring a dark site and dark adaptation to see.  O'Meara's finder directions are okay but I used my Sky Atlas 2000 on this object which served me better.
The galaxy is a face on mixed spiral with a small but bright inner core. Averted vision shows the bar and a diffused outer halo.  The bar appears to run SW to NW.

Date: 3/15/2010
Time: 10:14p.m. MST/05:14 UT
Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley UT
Seeing: 9/10 or II to I on Antoniadi Scale
LVM 7.0 Ursa Minor
NGC 2964 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Leo
Mag: 11.3
Size 3.2'x1.8'
RA 9h 42m 9s
Dec +31 51
Instrument: XT10
Eyepieces: 13 mm Stratus 2x barlow

NGC 2964 is a dim spiral galaxy. Another not to see at home in an urban sky or even in an orange bordering yellow zone. A dim core is visible which is brighter only slightly more than the halo around it. Using a rapid breathing technique does bring out more of the shape of the galaxy with a very faint hint of an arm.  The arm curves west to south-south-east.  Not an object I will spend a lot of time with or sketching. NGC 2968 another galaxy is also viewable in the FOV so I included it in the sketch.

NGC 2964

 NGC 2968

Date: 3/15/2010
Time: 11:35pm/06:36 UT
Conditions: Clear, Cold and brisk, no wind.
Seeing: 9/10 Antoniadi Scale II to I
LVM 7.0 Ursa Minor
Object: NGC 2613 Spiral Galaxy in Pyrix
RA 08h33m4s
Dec -22 58
Instrument: XT10
Eyepiece(s): 13mm Stratus @92x w/2x barlow @184x

This spiral galaxy is only viewable with averted vision at a dark site. NO way I could get this one at home I feel, maybe just a hint but that would be all.  It is a grayish blob with no details nor any core visible. Core is just a shade darker (not much then the halo.  Possible dark band on the west side of the galaxy as I study it more with time.

Date: 3/16/2010
Time: 1:05a.m. MST/ 08:05 UT
Conditions: Clear, Cold, frosted dew started to form on tube
Seeing: 8/10  Antoniadi II
LVM 6.8
Object: NGC 3226 Elliptical Galaxy and NGC 3227 Spiral Galaxy in Leo
Mag: 3226 is 11.4 and 3227 is 10.5
RA 10h 23m 5s
Dec +19 52'
Instrument: XT10
Eyepieces:  13mm Stratus
Size: NGC 3227 6.9'x5.4'; NGC 3226 2.5'x2.2'

NGC 3227  is a bright, elongated halo with a very bright core evident. Core is much brighter than the surrounding halo.  The halo is diffused. No mottling or details are evident to me.

NGC 3226 is just a bright diffused halo with no core visible.

Date: 3/16/10
Time: 1:14am MST/ 08:14 UT
Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, West Desert, Utah
Conditions: Clear, cold, humidity over 70%
Seeing: III-II Antoniadi Scale; 8/10
Object: NGC 3190 Spiral Galaxy; 
Mag: 11.2
Size: 4.1'x1.6'
RA 10h 18m 1s
Dec +21 50'
Instrument: XT10
Eyepiece: 13mm Stratus @ 92x, 2x barlow @ 184x

Object: NGC 3193 Elliptical Galaxy in Leo
Conditions, Seeing: See above for NGC 3190
RA 10h 18m 4s
Dec 21 54'
Instrument: XT10
Eyepiece: 13mm Stratus

This is a faint spiral galaxy that appears tilted but face on. It may be a dust or dark lane that is riding across it.  Core is SE and is bright and large sitting in the dust lanes.  The more I observe the object, the more detail comes out. The dust lane is disturbed with mottling showing a possible dark lane running through this galaxy.  I would confirm it visually as a dark lane and astro images confirm this as do my observing friends.  I do like how I captures this in the sketch.

NGC 3193 is a small elliptical galaxy just east-north-east of NGC 3190.  It is a rather bright at my viewing location here at Pit n Pole, and sits next to a ninth to tenth magnitude star.  It is a dull white with no discernible features at 92x. This elliptical does provide a nice contrast with NGC 3190 though. 

 Date: 3/16/2010
Time: 1:45am MST; 08:45 UT
Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley Utah, West Desert
Conditions: Clear, Cold, humidity improving
Seeing: Antoniadi II; 8.5/10
LMV: 7.0
Object: NGC 2903 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Leo
RA 09h 32m 2s
Dec 21 30'
Instrument: XT10
Eyepiece: 13mm Stratus @ 92x, 2x barlow at 184X
Mag. 9.0
Size: 11.6' x5.7'

NGC 2903 has a bright inner core that is starlike with averted vision. Dust lanes are evident and there is a strong halo near the core that diffuses out. Two arms are evident. Excellent galaxy to examine, best object seen of the night. Messier overlooked this one in making his catalog though three of the comets he discovered were relatively close to it.  At the dark site I could easily discern the puff of smoke in the finder at 9x50.

After NGC 2903 I knew I had to leave since I had to get to work. The sky was too good that night not to go out and I have no regrets. I did have to take a nap the next afternoon after getting done with teaching but I can do that, observe on a night before work knowing I have prepared and planned and then go and teach, not stay late that day and head home and take a nap.