Observing/Outreach June 5, 2010 NGC 4594, NGC 5054, NGC 4856, NGC 4559 Galaxies in Como Bernices or Virgo

Well the skies in Utah actually were clear last night! I debated whether to go to the SLAS Star Party or to go out on my own to the Western Desert. Humidity was foretasted by Clear Sky Clock to rise up high starting around 1:00a.m. to 2:00a.m. The best location for humidity was Stansbury Park where the Stansbury Park Observatory Complex is located, and where the Public Star Party was being held. I decided to go there. I set up the XT10 after arriving and enjoyed the evening talking to one of our newer members waiting for the sky to darken. Collimating the scope with the Eye and Cheshire combo was easy since I got there with plenty of light. I verified it with the laser and both were spot on.

As Venus grew brighter I check out Venus and then taught a newer member, a college student, how to use the Telrad, the finder-scope and eyepiece to locate objects. He found his first object, Venus, doing this on his own. Next, I went to Saturn and checked out Saturn at 240x. The seeing was good at 8:40p.m. MDT, and several people came by to view Saturn. Next I had the new member go to Mars and Regulas and using the Orion Q70 32mm I showed them the contrast in Regulas and Mars. By now it was getting dark. The new member left to go see other sights and no one was with me so I started seeing if I could hunt down a few missed Herschels from May. Suddenly a boy came by and wanted to see M9. So I pulled the scope out of Ursa Major and went over to M9. It was low and wasn't looking to good. An alternative was M4 and I showed some people from Japan M4. M4 was viewable, but being relatively low and with the sky still in astronomical twilight it was nothing like the next object!

My next object just blew me away. I had an interesting conversation using green lasers on constellations and their shapes. For example, Leo doesn't look like a lion to me, it looks more like a mouse. Denebola would be the mouses nose for example with Chertan Chort making up the bottom of the head and Zosma being where the ear would be. While doing that we discussed Hercules and I noticed as we traced the constellation that M13 was readily visible. I pulled the 10 over and showed the two guests M13 in the 13mm Stratus at 97x. The globular was spectacular at the time that we viewed it so I decided to try the 5mm Hyperion at 240x magnification. The sky responded and showed us an incredible view of M13. Tendrils were easily viewable and literally hundreds if not thousands of stars were viewable. It is perhaps one of the best views I have had of M13. I was going to sketch it when the son (who is a member of SLAS also) of one of our members wanted to try sketching. So I pulled out an extra set of pencils, giving him a 2H, 2B and an HB and explained some basic techniques. I also provided him with paper, a clipboard and a blending stump and he went to work.

The young man (I don't have permission to use their names so I won't be unless they okay it; that's the educator in me) proceeded to sketch M9, M84, M86 and M87 (I believe, he had 3 galaxies from Virgo if I recall correctly) and then he said he was going to try M51. I lost my sketch on M13 that night, perhaps the on great night this year I'll see it and I do believe it would have taken even more magnification but 240x was just right. Instead after showing his father and our club president and a few others he would bring it over show me, and then compare it to what I had sketched. I think that was worth more than that great chance at M13. I'll have another chance at M13, no doubt as the mountains here open up for observing. Hopefully I will have opened the world of sketching to a young man which will increase the details he is seeing.

After missing out on M13, it was rather late for the Star Party crowd, being around 10:45p.m. I decided at this time it was Jay's time; time for me to personal observe. Before I did that they asked if anyone wants to view M51 and it's companion NGC 5195 in the 16 inch Ealing Refector. Sure, lets go. I have to say that was the object that as soon as the weather clears, I am going back to use personally with another club member who also wants to hone their skill on the scope. I saw perhaps a truly wondrous site as M51's two arms were easily viewable, separate from the halo and the bridge was also evident as the seeing allowed. I'll take three or four hours with three or four objects to sketch and be happy if I get two objects done! What a view!

So here are my meager Herschel observations. They are low in the sky and I realized after viewing them that I will have to give up on April and May's list as they are sinking too low in the sky. I started on the Herschels one year ago this month I believe and so now I have to begin to check what objects I have already seen when making my lists. Oops. I forgot to do that with this months list. Having said that, I want the monthly list so if anyone else wants them, they can have them.

NGC 4594 or Messier 104, The Sombrero Galaxy; Spiral Galaxy in Virgo;
Date: June 5, 2010
Time: 11:01 p.m. MDT/05:01 UT
Location: Stansbury Park, UT, SPOC
Conditions: Clear, Mild
Seeing: Antoniadi Scale: II; Transparency 4/5
Mag. 8.0
Size: 7.1' x 4.4'
RA: 12h 40m
Dec: -11 37m
Instruments: XT10, 13mm Stratus @ 92x, 5mm Hyperion @ 240x

I used both 92x and 240x on this object as it took 240x pretty well tonight. 92x shows a bright inner core, and a galaxy that is edge on. Averted vision elongates the galaxy that is surrounded by the halo. Halo is evident also. Dust lane goes the length of the galaxy and is just under the core. The dust lane is viewable with averted vision the best at 92x. 240x shows a larger size and brighter core. Dust lane is prominent and is easily viewable. Wonderful object as always.

STSci Image:

NGC 5054 Sprial Galaxy in Virgo
Date: June 6 ,2010
Time: 12:05a.m. MDT/06:05UT
Conditions: Mild, Clear
Seeing: Antoniadi Scale: II (maybe heading towards a III); Transparency starting to degrade.
RA: 13h 17m
Dec. -16 38
Mag: 10.9
Size: 4.8' x 2.8'
Instruments: XT10, 13mm Stratus

The transparency is starting to degrade as the humidity in the air rises. Averted vision shows a faint fuzzy, perhaps a hint of a core, but not sure I want to commit on the core. Galaxy is running north to south and with patience I could make out a faint core with averted vision. The halo is very faint and diffused.

NGC/IC Project Image from STScI Digitized Image

Object: NGC 4856 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Virgo
Date: June 6, 2010
Time: 12:35p.m. MDT/06:35 UT
Seeing: Fair, some clouds, humidity rising; Antoniadi Scale: III/ transparency 2.5/5
RA 12h 59.3m
Dec -15 22
Mag. 10.5
Size 3.1' x 0.9'
Instrument: XT10, 13mm Stratus

Transparency continues to degrade with this session just as the Clear Sky Clock said it would. This BSG is next to two bright stars. In the sketch west is at the 10:00 position on the clock. The galaxy has a bright inner core, with a halo seen around the core. Averted vision shows the size of the halo the best, and direct vision shows the core the best while decreasing the size of the halo. Small Herschel object.

STScI Image

Object: NGC 4559 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Coma Bernices
Date: June 6. 2010
Time: 1:03a.m. MDT/ 07:03 UT
Seeing: Some clouds, mild, humidity high; Antoniadi Scale: III; Transparency 2.5/5
RA 12h 36m
Dec +27 58
Mag. 10. 0
Size: 11.3' x 5.0'
Instrument: XT10; 13mm Stratus

At 92x this MSG has a stellar core. There is a elongated halo running north-west to south-east. The core is just brighter than the surrounding diffused halo that surrounds it. No other detailed noted.

STScI Image

I cleaned up and packed up after this observation as conditions were making it difficult to see details on the galaxies. After packing up I was invited to view in what is called the Grim Reflector (named after a club member who played a major role in the creation of SPOC) which is a 32 inch reflector. The view was on M57, the Ring Nebula and the central star was visible. One person was looking when I came into the bay, and then I took two steps up, leaned into the ladder and put my eye to the eyepiece. M57 was there alright, and looked better than I had seen it. The ring was oval in the view here and sure enough, even with not terrific conditions anymore, the central star popped into view, held for several seconds and popped back out. I waited and sure enough it popped back into view. Wonderful to see the central star in the Ring which as a planetary nebula is my favorite DSO to observe. You can see what I saw (it was turned more on its side I believe) by looking at this link and scrolling to the black and white image in the middle; the third image down I believe: LINK to M57 Central Star Image. Looking at a PN reminds me that all that we think is important, in the end, isn't and will come to naught so the important thing is to live and learn and love in the current day!