April 7th, 2010 Observing Session

Well, I got out for two nights in row, Wednesday the 7th and Thursday the 8th! I will also be back out on Saturday the 10th in the West Desert of Utah. Here is what happened on the 7th of April.

April 7th, 2010, Herriman UT, Western edge; Seeing I on the Antoniadi Scale, just a perfect night in the area, even Sirius barely twinkled at above 30 degrees saw no twinkling. Conditions started as clear and mild and moved to clear and cold with no wind or breeze. Used the XT10 tonight with the 13mm Stratus.

Time 08:32 MDT or 03:32UT;
Object: Venus and Mercury

I wanted to get in an good solid observation of Venus and Mercury since they sat in the sky so nicely. I got some good views and did some sketching from both the telescope and from the visual eye. The XT10 wasn't cooled quite enough so I did get some heat circles coming off of Venus. Venus was much brighter than last year when I visited it and it was still very white and I observed no cloud cover on it. Venus was in the gibbous stage at this point.

Mercury looked wonderful in the finder, showing a yellow/reddish color/hue to it. At 92x in the eyepiece, Mercury showed almost a gibbous stage also, rather a different shape to it and the red color was evident. At 240x the seeing came and went due to the position of the objects in the sky (low to the horizon, too much atmosphere to look through). My sketch is an attempt not to show the planet but to just show what I could see. I will later add my sketches to what I saw on the actual planets.

Now I went to work on my Herschels;

NGC 3916 Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
RA 11h 19m 4s
Dec +57 40m
Seeing I on Antoniadi Scale
Mag 11.5
Size 3.7'x2.8'
XT10, 13mm Stratus

O'Meara's directions are spot on yet even though getting to the location is easy, the galaxy is very, and I mean very hard to see. Dark adaptation will run the gambit tonight on the objects and is a must on this one. Also, plan to use averted vision to bag this. This galaxy takes a lot of patience so don't be in a hurry. The core is stellar and with averted vision I can detect a very faint halo. No other details are evident to me.

NGC 3613 Elliptical Galaxy in Ursa Major
RA 11h 18m 6s
Dec +58 00m
05:14 UT
Seeing: I
Mag: 10.9
Size 3.4'x1.9'
13mm Stratus

The core is bright and elliptical in shape and is very evident on this galaxy. The halo around the core is diffused and is best shown the size using averted vision. Averted vision brings out more detail also. Looks to lie NE to SW.

NGC 3610 Elliptical Galaxy in Ursa Major
RA 11h 18m 4s
Dec; +58 47m
05:41 UT
Seeing I
Clear and Cold
Mag: 10.8
Size 3.2'x 3.2'
13mm Stratus

The core is very striking and is very starlike or stellar. Core is much brighter then the surrounding halo. Averted vision brings out a circular halo that is very diffused. No other detail is evident.

NGC 3992 or M109 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
Seeing: I Clear and Cold
RA 11h 57m 6s
Dec: +53 23m
Mag: 9.8
Size: 7.6' x 4.3'
13mm Stratus

This is a large barred spiral galaxy and is easy to locate. This galaxy is one I haven't seen since I did my Messier objects several years ago. Dark adaptation helps on this puppy. It is faint at first, then coming into view and the galaxy really showed wonderful detail tonight. Core came out as large round and bright. Bars were evident with averted vision running NE to SW and some spiral structure was evident with some mottling on it. I love my hand sketch on this one, but my scanner just doesn't pick up the details on it.

NGC 3953 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
06:29 UT
Seeing: I Clear and Cold
RA 11h 53m 8s
Dec: +52 20m
Mag: 10.1
Size: 6.0' x 3.2'
13mm Stratus

This barred spiral galaxy has a core that is somewhat bright, just slightly brighter than the halo around the core. I wanted to say I saw the bars but don't believe that is possible, and in rethinking it, I believe I saw hints of the arms come and go near the central region. Hint of arms coming from the north to and turning south, with some hints of mottling. Fun object to observe, to coax detail from and to sketch.

NGC 4026 Lenticular Galaxy in Ursa Major
07:98 UT
Seeing: I Clear and Cold
RA 11h 59m 4s
Dec: +50 58
Mag. 10.8
Size: 4.6' x 1.2'
13mm Stratus

Small bright core, shown best with direct vision. Runs north to south and is long and slender with some bulge in the middle. No other details were evident to me.

NGC 4088 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
07:18 UT
Seeing: I on the Antoniadi Scale; Clear and Cold
RA 12h 05m 6s
Dec +50 33m
Mag 10.6
Size: 5.4' x 2.1'
13mm Stratus

This galaxy is just a large gray cloud and averted vision will help you to capture its location and its shape. Take some time to view with averted vision to capture the shape. No other viewable features are available to me.

NGC 4085 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
07:27 UT
Seeing I on Antoniadi Scale, clear and cold
RA 12h 5m 4s
Dec +50 21m
Mag 12.4
Size 2.5' x 0.8'
13mm Stratus
2x Barlow

This is another spiral galaxy not to write home about. It is worth going to if you like a challenge as it is not easy to view. It lays right down from NGC 4088 and above two 8th to 9th magnitude stars, and forms a triangle with them. This galaxy takes dark adaptation and averted vision to see. At first no core was evident but over time the core became star like and faint. Halo is diffused and gray, no other details are evident.

Well that's all for this session. I have another session from the 8th to post and will have one from later today (it is Saturday now) and I'll get those up as soon as possible. I'm now 1/3 of the way done with the H-400 and I have to highly recommend O'Meara's guide if your going to do it. Not needed perhaps, but a wonderful companion and guide for doing the H-400.