MARCH 31st and April 1st, 2011 Observations
First off, I have to wish to my son again, Happy Birthday and I hope you enjoyed your 17th (his birthday is on April 8th). I finally finished getting my sketches scanned and in and creating the digital version from my observing session a week ago. Overall it was TERRIFIC to be out in such fantastic skies (Thursday) and really good skies (Friday). I've posted pictures for Thursday so you can see the conditions there. We had a nice group out on both Thursday as my observing friend George was there (we do observe together, safety in numbers and George is just a great guy). There was my friend Tom, and Shahid (Shahid observes also we me a lot) as does Tom. A new observer, Mark showed up. On Friday I observed with my friend Mat, his two daughters and a couple from the Provo area. Thursday had the better overall conditions, though Friday was good until the clouds rolled in after 12:00a.m. MDT.
The XX14i worked well except for the Intelliscope. I was getting some wild warps and it was saying M42 was below the horizon. I'm sure its user error and I'll get it out one night but to be honest, star hopping is a blast anyway for me. I wish I knew a local intelliscope expert who could help me get this thing working right 100% of the time when I want it.
I love the Pentax XW's that I have (14mm, 10mm, 7mm) and find I am amazed at the views they offer through the XX14i or the 20' Obsession when that opportunity presents itself.
I started off on Friday taking a good-bye tour of the major winter constellations and did not record an observation or sketch any item. I just wanted to visually enjoy M42, NGC 2362, M44, M35, M336,37,38, The Flame Nebula, B33, Thor's Helmet and several other personal favorites. After doing this I got to work. I missed being able to nail the open clusters I need to complete the H-400 because of weather in February. So I started in Puppis with two open clusters and then went elsewhere as they were too low on the horizon. Friday's session ended around 12:30a.m. MDT or just after that as the clouds moved in ending the session. The next day it snowed (and it snowed all day today, April 9th, 2011.
I am going to include the original sketch and the digital sketch since I have visitors that have let me know they enjoy one to another or both.
NGC 2482 Open Cluster in Puppis
A small and tight open cluster, medium rich in stars with about fifty plus stars showing and at the bottom are three bright stars forming a triangle. The open cluster in some ways reminds me of a starfish with one arm just starting to extend out beyond the others in order to move or capture prey? Several chains of stars are evident and a dark lane is visible running east to west. There is a very bright orange star to the southwest. Possible this has several dark lanes running through it forming a X pattern to the cluster. If your in the area next winter, check it out.
Very small and tight open cluster. One dark lane currently visible. Rather large lane in between the southern side. An inverted equilateral triangle is nearby in the FOV. The cluster is very tight in the western side and a hint of stars wanting to peep out is very evident in that region. A poor to medium open cluster with about 30 to 32 stars evident, more there wanting to pop out.
NGC 2655 Mixed Spiral Galaxy in Camelopardalis
Bright stellar core with a hint of a spiral arm. Small 14th ? mag. star to the SW of the galaxy. Arm appears to wrap from west to northwest and this object requires a decent dark site to capture the details.
NGC 3900 Spiral Galaxy in Leo
Right before I hunted this down, Shahid showed me Centaurus A in his Z12 scope. It was somewhat irregular, with a bright core region and was rather nice. Another object I need to hunt down for myself! NGC 3900 is a small galaxy and is very faint. It has a bright stellar core and no other structure is evident.
NGC 3953 Spiral Galaxy in Leo
The galaxy appears to have a stellar nucleus and lays east to west while it elongates with averted vision. The core increases in size with averted vision and patience also. No lanes or arms or other structure is visible. Nice galaxy for a Hershel to view though.
NGC 3607 and NGC 3608, Spiral Galaxies in Leo
Okay, on the original sketch I had a Jay mistake. I wrote it down and NGC 3606 and NGC 3607. That is incorrect and I have made the correction. These are NGC 3607 & NGC 3608.
NGC 3607 is the brighter of the two galaxies and lies to the west in the sketch. Averted vision on this galaxy will show a bright inner core region with a stellar nucleus. No other structure was visible.
NGC 3608 is next to NGC 3607 and is the smaller of the two galaxies. No core is evident neither at first is any other structure. Using the 10mm Pentax XW and having patience with averted vision brought out a small and stellar nucleus.
DSS Survey Image of NGC 3607 (not the faint galaxies in the image)
DSS image of NGC 3608
APRIL 1st, 2011 Observation (starting around 8:00p.m. MDT/April 2nd, 2011 02:00 UT.
NGC 3686 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Leo
This is the largest of 3 galaxies in the FOV using a 21 Orion Stratus, sharing the F.O.V with NGC 3681 and NGC 3684, both spirals. NGC 3986 is elongated north to south. There is a bright inner core region and a stellar nucleus. A nice galaxy to view if your in Leo this spring. If your an astro-imager look at the structure in the DSS photo. I'd give this one a try!
NGC 3684, NGC 3681 and NGC 3686.
I covered NGC 3686 in the post above so I wont' go into details here, nor will I duplicate the DSS photo here. NGC 3681 is somewhat bright and its shape is round. It has a bright inner core region with a nucleus that is stellar. In the sketch it is the galaxy in the upper left of the sketch.
NGC 3684 in the sketch is the middle galaxy. It is also roundish in shape, with some elongation running NW to SE. The core is not so bright but a faint stellar core is detectable with averted vision.
NGC 3681 and NGC 3684 are not H-400 objects, but they are right there so I included them. Both show wonderful structure in the DSS image and would be worthy of a go by an imager I think.
NGC 3681 DSS Image (nice structure, another one for imagers?)
NGC 3684 DSS Image (WONDERFUL Structure for an imager who wants to try this one!).
NGC 3628 Spiral Galaxy in Leo on April 1st, 2011 at 11:01 p.m. MDT or April 2nd, 2011 05:01 UT.
My 10mm Pentax XW provide the best view I have ever had of this galaxy. The cost paid of here and in viewing M61 and M62. I spent over an hour and twenty minutes on this object so absorbed was I in the detail I saw from the XX14i and the 10mm Pentax XW. This was a major WOW for me. The galaxy lays east to west or perhaps more NE to SW. The dark/dust lane was easily seen as was structure. I saw where the lane narrowed and where it increased in space. Some hint of bubbling was detectable to me as the lane wasn't just a dark streak, but a structure that came and went in different areas. There was a significant increase in the brightness near the center both above (mainly) and below the central region. The galaxy above and below the dust lane hinted of structure and various brightening and darkening. My feeble attempts to sketch this just can't match the view I saw. It was almost, key word, almost photographic. It is here that I prefer the real sketch versus my even more feeble digital sketch.
My failure here is I want to try to detect the tidal tail here in the 14 inch but I didn't do that. Next dark sky and I will.