Observing Session April 20th and 21st, 2012: Galaxies, Galaxies, Galaxies and a PN

Here is the 14 set up and collimated for a night of observing.

Night falls over Forest Road 006, Site 4 Observing Area:

Looking to the southwest as twilight approaches and the mountains in the distance.

Well, I figure I better get these two observing sessions up and recorded as time is quickly passing and before I know it, the next new moon cycle will be here.  As most know who have followed my blog, we went out to observe at a place that I call Forest Road 006 and this was site 4 on my Google Map for astronomy.  The site is quite dark, and has a wonderful view of the night sky.  It is elevated up off the valley floor so humidity is not an issue and it lays in a definite grey zone.  SQM readings are over 23 and it is just a wonderful place to observe.

When I drove out, one issue I had with the site, is how heavy is the use in the spring and summer? This weekend are preferred site, site 1 was taken by an RV as was the next site.  Site 4 though was open so we took it, and my friend Jeff and I set up.  Jeff help me to collimate the 14 and confirmed the use of the Paracorr I that I had purchased from him a while ago.  The paracorr helped to clean up the 14mm Pentax XW to where I enjoyed using it these two sessions.  On Friday night we had a guest come along, Chris from Raliegh North Carolina.  I lived in North Carolina for a couple of years, mainly in Greensboro and Ashville and just love the state so of course anyone from that state was welcome to come along!  Chris brought up observing in the SLC area via Cloudy Nights and you can find that thread located here if your interested.Needless to say, I think Chris love the site, enjoyed viewing in telescopes from 10 inches to the 14 up to Mat's 16 inch.  It was a good night and a steady night.  Chris confirmed for me a visual of one of the tails of NGC 4039 as it move it way out and down from the host galaxy.  I really enjoyed having him along and he is welcome to join us anytime.

Friday night was a very solid night, and we observed until around 2:00a.m., maybe 2:30a.m. (it's getting fuzzy right now) and it was a very excellent night for me.  Star hopping went easy, the scope worked great and I just enjoyed capturing the objects I did.  My focus was to clean up a good part of the Herschel 400 that I haven't been able to get the last two years due to skies and schedule.  The skies the last two years at new moon were either cloudy or cloudy and rainy.  Not so these two nights! At Friday nights session was Mat, Jeff, Jorge, Joe (who struggled with problems with his equipment so he didn't get a view in), myself and Chris. 

Saturday was also a great night.  My friend Jorge took a shot of himself that is in an earlier post and you can see the quality of the stars from Saturday night.The people there on Saturday were Jeff and Jorge and myself.  Jeff left around 12:00a.m. and Jorge and I stayed observing until around 2:00a.m. or a little later.  Jorge spent the night and woke up to the glorious summer Milky Way over head in a marvelous display.  I drove home and I don't think that was a good idea.  I don't remember driving past the Pony Express Marker though I was looking for it.  I did see someone with a very bright white light at Pit n Pole around 2:30a.m. that night though.  I wondered if someone else had been observing and was packing up and "gone white."

The sketches below reflect what I saw.  I will include a copy of the DSS image with it so you can compare.  Some are pretty close, I like when that happens, some aren't.  Any error is my fault but I do enjoy sketching.  The sketches will not necessarily be in the order observed, and to view a larger version please click on them and you can scroll through them that way.  Also, someone asked if I sketch off an image I take through the 14 inch dob, I would assume like a Mallicam.  No, I am a visual observer and I attempt to capture what I see at the eyepiece.  In terms of very faint objects, I try to have someone confirm them, and prefer multiple confirmations to feel that I have recorded it.  If I get that, I count it.  If not, I'll report it here though I may not "officially" count it as observed.  One change I will note is that I am no longer keeping my notes on the front of the sketch.  I am putting them on the back.  I like that better.  That means I will be including the information above the sketch.  The DSS images are credited to them and are copyright by them, used by permission.  On those images north is up, east is to the right.  Friday night was my 47th birthday and it was a very fun way to spend it.  So here we go. 

1. NGC 4038 & NGC 4039 The Antenea Galaxies in Corvus.  Date: April 20th, 2012, 10:50p.m. MST or 4/21/2012 04:50 UT;  Antoniadi II, 14" Dob, 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr I.
Bright stellar core on NGC 4039, and NGC 4038 was somewhat brighter with more mottling. Tidal tail observed with averted vision (?) off of NGC 4039, confirmed by Chris from North Caroline though Mat did not confirm it.

2. NGC 4697 Galaxy Type SA?0 in Virgo; FR006 Site 4; 4/21/2012, 02:21a.m. MDT or 08:21 UT; Clear, cool but mild.  Antoniadi I; 14 inch dob with 10mm and 7mm Pentax XW, Type 1 Paracorr. Size: 4.4'x2.4'; Mag. 9.2
Very bright galaxy  elongated W-SW to E-NE (south is down I believe, west is left in the sketch. I was interrupted during this sketch and bearings got lost for a few moments and fatigue was setting in) with a bright inner core and a stellar nucleus.  Rich star field around the galaxy makes for nice contrast. 

3. NGC 4438 and NGC 4435, Spiral Galaxies in Virgo;  4/21/2012; 12:39a.m. MDT or 06:39 UT;  FR 006 Site 4;  Antoniadi I;  Clear, mild, no wind;  14" dob with 10mm (165x) & 7mm Pentax XW (236x),  Paracorr I; Size: 8.5' x 3.2' Mag. 10.0

NGC 4438 is a bright galaxy that sits SSW to NNE and it has a small bright core.  The galaxy has an outer dusty area (extensions) and then the main galaxy with the extensions viable with averted and just off direct vision.  Core is small, smaller than NGC 4435 and non or sub stellar.

NGC 4435  Per the notes on NGC 4438.  Mag. 10.8 and size is 2.8'x2.0'   This is a bright galaxy and is relatively small in size, much smaller than  NGC 4438.  Not a lot of detail here. 

On the extension of NGC 4438 Stephen James O'Meara in his H400 Guide (of which this blog was started as a review of doing the H400 using his book, and I need to do a post about to update it) stated on NGC 4438 that "At 72x, the galaxy's core becomes bright and concentrated but not to a star like nucleus.  Also, the dim and warped extensions can be suspected.  With the extensions the galaxy appears 4' long with averted vision." Mr. O'Meara was using a 4 inch Televue F/5 Genesis Refractor and a 7mm Nagler for the 72x magnification. 

5. NGC 4027, Spiral Galaxy in Corvus;  April 20th, 2012; 10:35pm MDT or 04:35 UT on 4/21/12;  FR 006 Site 4; 14" dob with 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr I; Antoniadi II;
NGC 4027 is pretty bright, round in shape with hint of faint outer structure to it.  It has a bright core with a stellar nucleus.  Possible arm to the north, curling to the east.

6. NGC 4699 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo: Size: 3.8'x2.6'; 4/21/2012, 12:35a.m. MDT or 06:35 UT;  FR006 Site 4; Clear, mild;  Antoniadi I; 14" dob with 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr I;
Somewhat faint outer nebulous, very bright core with a brilliant stellar core. 

7. NGC 4845 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo;  April 22nd, 2012, FR 006 Site 4; 12:40a.m. MDT or 06:40 UT;  Clear, mild/cool, Antoniadi I; 14" dob with 14mm Pentax XW and 10mm Pentax XW; Size: 5.0'x1.3', Mag. 11.2
Notes:  Elongated E-W, large, moderately bright core, with a hint of a bright nucleus. Mottling is evident on this galaxy probably due to a dust lane.  There is some controversy regarding this object and its initial identification I believe.

8.  NGC 4546 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo.  April 21st, 2012; FR006 Site 4; Clear, cool, slight breeze 3-5 mph; Antoniadi I; 14" dob with 10mm Pentax XW; Size: 3.3 x 1.4; Mag. 10.3.
Elongated WSW to ENE with a faint nebulosity on the edge.  No structure there.  Bright inner core region with a very stellar and bright nucleus.

9. NGC 4900 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo;  4/22/2012, 01:05a.m. MDT or 07:05 UT;  FR 006 Site 4, south of Vernon, Utah;  Antoniadi I-II, 14' dob with 14mm & 10mm Pentax XW with Paracorr I.  Size: 2.2'x2.1'  Mag. 11.4
Mottled galaxy in appearance in the eyepiece with some brightening near the core.  Bright 10.5 mag star to the SE edge of the galaxy.  Good mask for a possible SN, but it isn't, just a star.  One could have fun with it though as a SN with a less experience observer . . .

10.  NGC 4361 Planetary Nebula in Corvus.  April 20th, 2012, 10:00p.m. MDT or 04:00 on 4/21/12 UT;  Antoniadi II, clear, mild;  Size: 93" x 27"; Mag. 10.3-11.0;  14" dob with 10mm Pentax XW; No Filter and Ultrablock Filter:
This is a very bright and good size planetary nebula that is rather easy to star hop to. Sky Pocket Atlas would take one there as would a printed off chart.  The PN has a faint outer rim, with a bright roundish inner region.  The central star is easily at 165x and above.  Filter brought out more structure with a hint of an extension on the SW side, as I sketched it below.  The extension made the PN seem more triangular than round at the eyepiece.  A fun object for spring to go after to give one a break from all the galaxies. If you like PN's, I recommend this one.

11. NGC 4643 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo.  4/21/12, 11:29pm MDT or 04/22/12 05:29 UT;  Antoniadi I, clear, mild;  Site: FR006 Site 4 south of Vernon Utah;  Size: 3.1'x2.3'; Mag. 10.8; 14 inch dob with 14mm Pentax XW with Paracorr I.
Somewhat elongated NW to SE (west is to the upper left corner), with a bright central core region that is roundish. 

12. NGC 4665 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo; Date: 4/21/12; Time: Not listed; Site: FR006 Site 4 south of Vernon, Utah; Antoniadi I with mild and clear conditions, Venus casting a shadow;  Size: 4.1'x4.1'; 14" dob with 14mm Pentax w/Paracorr I.
Diffused outer halo visible to the edge with averted vision with a bright inner core region with a very stellar nucleus.

13.  NGC 4753 Type I0 galaxy in Virgo; Date: 4/21/12; Time: 10:45pm MDT or 4/22/12, 04:45 UT;  Antoniadi I, clear, mild;  Size: 4.1'x2.3'; Mag. 9.9; 14" dob with 14mm & 10mm Pentax XW, sketched with the 10mm Pentax XW at 165x.
This is a rather large galaxy that sits west to east, somewhat uneven across outer halo.  Has a large bright core with a non-stellar nucleus.  This is a nice galaxy to be on the list to observe for the details it offers up.

14. NGC 4666 Spiral Galaxy Type Sbc II in Virgo (with NGC 4668 which is next to the trio of stars to the top of the sketch); Date: 4/21/12 10:00pm MDT or 04:10 UT at 4/22/12;  Antoniadi I, clear, mild; Size: 4.1'x1.3'; Mag. 10.7; 14" dob with 14mm & 10mm Pentax XW;

NGC 4668 a Type I:B(s)m III galaxy in Virgo.  Date: 4/21/12 10:00pm MDT or 04:10UT on 4/22/12; Antoniadi I, clear and mild; Size: 1.1'x0.6'; mag. 13.1;

Notes:  NGC 4666 shows as an elongated NE to SW halo that is somewhat mottled with a very bright inner core region with a bright stellar nucleus.  NGC 4668 is a faint and small companion to NGC 4666, located next to a arc of three stars.  The galaxy is diffused and no detail is visible, but the galaxy did pop right out in the conditions and the darkness of the sky.  NGC 4666 and NGC 4668 for me look nothing like the DSS images, well maybe part of NGC 4666. 

NGC 4666

NGC 4668

15. NGC 4754 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo; Date: 04/21/12 at 10:35pm MDT or 04:35UT on 4/22/12;  FR 006 Site 4 south of Vernon, Utah;  Antoniadi II; clear and mild;  Size: 4.6'x2.6'; Mag. 10.6;  14" dob with 14mm & 10mm Pentax XW;
Notes: Small and pretty galaxy, that is fairly bright.  Oval in shape somewhat sitting NNE to SSW.  Bright inner core with a stellar nucleus.  In the same field of view with the 27mm Panoptic with NGC 4762 and the pair would make a nice sketch or image if someone wanted to pursue that.

16. NGC 4762 a Spiral Galaxy in Virgo;  Size: 9.1' x 2.2'; Mag. 10.3; Date: 4/22/12 at 01:15am MDT or 07:15 UT; Site: FR006 Site 4 south of Vernon, Utah; Antoniadi I, Clear, mild;  14" Dob with 14mm and 10mm Pentax XW with Paracorr I.
Notes:  This is a wonderful edge of galaxy that is very bright and near M104.  One of my new favorite edge one galaxies.  Looks much like a needle. Slight taper on the western edge (western mark is off, it is more to the right).  Very bright core  that has a slight bulge, somewhat too large in the sketch, with a wonderful stellar nucleus.  Not overly large  but a good looking edge on. 

17.  Messier 104, NGC 4594 the Sombrero Galaxy.  An elliptical galaxy in Virgo (see earlier post).  Date: 4/20/12 at 10:10pm MDT or 04:10 UT on 4/21/12;  Antoniadi II, clear, mild;  Site: FR006 Site 4; Size: 7.1' x 4.4'; Mag. 8.0; 14" dob with 14mm, 10mm and 7mm Pentax XW.
Wonderful as always!  The dark dust lane really popped out tonight and stretched from one side to the other, thickening on the left hand side as in the sketch below.  North is to the bottom and left I believe.  The slight bulge on the northern side is the top of the sombrero.  Rich star field easily seen also.  Bright core region with stellar nucleus.  Amazing that this long thought after spiral is an elliptical with dust gravitating to its core central region, very similar to Centaurus A. 

18. NGC 4536 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo; Date: 4/22/12, 12:25am MDT or 06:28UT;  Site: FR006 Site 4 South of Vernon, Utah;  Antoniadi II, clear, mild;  14" dob with 14mm and 10mm Pentax XW with Paracorr I;  Size: 6.4' x 2.6'; Mag. 10.6; 
Notes: Decent size halo with a bright core region and a stellar nucleus.  Reminds me of Messier 31 in many ways.  Sits NW to SE and Spiral structure (west is to the upper left corner, north to the lower left corner) is suspected on the northeast side of the galaxy.  Another fun galaxy to tease detail out of.

19.  NGC 4535 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo; Date: 4/21/12, 11:45pm MDT or 0545UT on 4/22/12;  Site: FR006 Site 4 south of Vernon, Utah;  Antoniadi II, clear and mild;  Size: 7.1' x 6.4'; mag. 10.0;  14" dob with 14mm and 10mm Pentax XW;
This is a wonderful space on spiral with structure that is very evident in the eyepiece.  Nice mottling on the galaxy and the inner core is bright and has a small and faint stellar nucleus.  There is a distinct darkening from the core region to the outer halo which showed the arms as shown in the sketch.  Very fine object to go after.

20.  NGC 4781 Spiral Galaxy Type SB(s)ed II in Virgo;  Date: 4/20/12 11:50pm MDT or 05:50UT on 4/21/12;  Antoniadi I, clear, mild; Site: FR006 Site 4 south of Vernon, Utah;  Size: 2.9' x 1.3'' Mag. 11.1; 14" dob with 10mm Pentax XW.
Irregular somewhat in shape, mottled in the halo, somewhat bright.  Lays ENE to WSW, just off axis.  East is to the lower left corner, west is to the upper right corner in the sketch.  Central region of the galaxy is not very well concentrated.  Interesting view though.

21. NGC 4636 Elliptical Galaxy Type E0-1 in Virgo; Date: 4/21/12 11:20pm or 05:20 UT on 4/22/12; Site: FR006 Site 4 south of Vernon, Utah;  Antoniadi I, clear, mild;  Size: 7.1' x 5.2'; Mag. 9.5; 14" dob with 14mm and 10mm Pentax XW with Paracorr I.
Very bright galaxy, faint outer halo with some mottling on it.  Bright inner core region with a substellar nucleus.  Very easy to tell it is an elliptical by its shape and structure. 

I observed several more objects on the H400 list and have sketches, but haven't processed them in GIMP yet to darken the background. I hope you like seeing the DSS image as well to compare them to.  They help me to make sure I have m orientation correct as I seem to mess up that from time to time in terms of the cardinal directions.  My new observing chair is down to just sanding down the edges, giving all the pieces a hit with the 220 sand paper, cleaning off the dust and then putting about 5 layers of coating on it to protect it.  Mat and I tried it out last night at even at the higher settings it worked great! My weight will probably put a grove or two in the backboard though put perhaps the varnish will help with that.  I'll post some image on that later this week.  Clear skies to you.