Observing Friday, May 11th, 2012 Pit n Pole, Rush Valley

On Friday, May11th, 2012 after work, I was able to leave work, come up, load up, and head out to Pit n Pole.  I would have preferred Forest Road 006 or something out there on the National Forest Land but the moon was coming up between 1:30a.m. and 2:00a.m. and I wanted to maximize my observing time as I haven't had any spring time observing at new moon for two years now.  Out at Pit n Pole were my friends Jeff, who helped me to center the secondary on the 14 and we did a few other things.  Mat came out with his family and he invited some of his neighbors who are interested (one is grinding a mirror) and they enjoyed the views.  I showed them Saturn, which they just love observing the whole night in any scope, and Mars, and Venus.  I also showed them M66 and M65.  Mat then took over and gave them a star tour and then taught two of his friends how to use his daughter's eight inch that he had built.  I was really impressed with them.  They found M101 on their own as well as several other galaxies and deep sky objects.  By the time they left they could manage a dob quite well.  Hmm. . .  I'll have to ask Mat to invite them to the Herriman Library Star Party and run my 10 inch so they can get a feel for a public outreach event (hint, hint Mat).

Anyway, Chris from North Carolina came out again.  I invited him to come and enjoy the views if he was available and he was.  I hope he had an enjoyable night and time observing with us.  I was tired this night for some reason, while I know why but we won't discuss that health issue here.  I worked on my Herschel 400 sketching project.  I got some in and did some sketching so I'll share the sketches that I did here.  My favorite sketch of the night and the object I had the most fun pulling detail out of is at the end of the sketches.

All in all, it was a wonderful night though the Pit got cold.  It wasn't dewy, well just a tad about 65% that night but nothing on the equipment until after 1:00a.m. when some of the finders and eyepieces started getting fog.  My new chair worked great! It was a boon to sketch on it and I am so excited to use it.  I found some rubber things I can stick and stable or tack onto the feet to protect the bottoms so they don't get scratched up.  So we'll start with the pictures of the chair and the setup.   Here you can see the Chair next to the XX14i set up and collimated and cooling. 

This next picture is a little bit closer and shows the chair and the 14 with the 14 in dob's hole.  I sat on the chair at this position and the eyepiece worked great for me! 

A front version of the chair and the 14.  The little black step stool folds up but it helps a big guy like me to get up the chair without using the footrest as a step.  Its a little more comfortable and easier to use at night and I always have it with me anyway.  

Here's my step up with Mat setting up his 16 inch in the background and some of the people there for the observing.

So for my sketching I will include the dss image which is copyrighted and used by permission from them.  It gives a good contrast on some images to compare the sketch to an image. 

1.  NGC 4660 Elliptical galaxy in Virgo;  Date: 5/12/12; Time: 12:40am MDT or 06:40 UT;  Antoniadi I, Clear and Cold; Mag 11.2; Size 2.1'x1.7';
Notes: Very small elliptical galaxy with a bright core.  Note in sketch the core is too big.

2. Object: NGC 4762 & NGC 4754 spiral galaxies in Virgo: NGC 4762: Date: 5/11/12 at 10:35pm MDT or 5/12/12 @ 0435 UT;  Antoniadi I, clear, cool; XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW;Mag. 10.3; Size: 8.7'x1.6'
Notes: Pretty bright and very elongated.  This is a very flat edge on galaxy with a bright nucleus. 

2a. Object: NGC 4754 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo;  Date: 5/11/12 @ 10:35pm MDT or 5/12/12 @ 04:35 UT;  conditions per above;  Mag. 10.6; Size 4.4'x2.5'; 
Notes:  Bright Galaxy that is somewhat elongated NNE to SSW.  My sketch did not capture the elongations though as I saw it more roundish.  Bright core region with a nucleus that is substellar.  Nice pair to observe.

3. Object: NGC 4689  Spiral Galaxy in Coma Berenices.  Date: 5/11/12 @ 11:17pm MDT or 5/12/12 @ 0517 UT;  Antoniadi I, clear, cold (in the upper to mid 30's);  Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah;  Mag. 10.9; Size: 4.2'x3.5';  XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW; 
Notes:  Decent size, somewhat low surface brightness with a bright core region.  Mottling suspected and observed.  Some structure is hinted at, possible arms.  Nice galaxy and a fun one to tease out detail and sketch. 

4. Object: NGC 4596 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo; Date: 5/11/12 @ 11:53pm or 5/12/12 @ 0553 UT;  Antoniadi I, clear, cool; Size: 4.0'x3.0'; Mag. 10.3;  XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW; 
Notes: Small diffused outer portion with a bright core, and a non-stellar nucleus.  Typical low grade Herschel 400 galaxy. 

5. Object: NGC 4866 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo; Date: 5/12/12 @ 01:08am MDT or 0708 UT;  Antoniadi I, clear, cold; Size: 6.3'x1.3'; Mag: 11.2; Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah; XX14i with 10mm Pentax XW;  
Notes: This edge on galaxy has a bright core with a stellar nucleus.  A mag. 13 star is embedded on the western edge of the galaxy.  The side with the star is less prominent in its nebulosity than the eastern side, possible from the star.  It is a little brighter than the sketch, I got some dust on this one so I had to darken the background more than I wanted.  The good news is in GIMP I figured out how to get the background I want using thresholds so good for me!

6. NGC 4654 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo; Date: 5/11/12 @ 11:37pm MDT or 5/12/12 @ 0537UT;  Size: 4.6'x5.9'; Mag. 10.9; Location: Pit n Pole, Rush Valley, Utah;  14" Dob with 10mm Pentax XW;  
Notes:  By far my personal favorite object of the night to observe and to sketch.  I had to work this one and it was fun to work it because the galaxy responded.  Direct vision shows at first a galaxy with what seems to be low surface brightness that is slightly elongated NE to SW.   Averted vision and a breathing technique brings a mottled appearance to the galaxy with a small but very bright core.  There is a dust lane possible on the northern side, and a possible arm extending on the southern end (west is down about twenty percent from the upper left corner and north is down about the same from the upper right corner I believe; it is diagonal but where the name of the galaxy is north would be running slightly at an angle towards the bottom; sorry I had them labeled but the image didn't capture it).   Again, this was a fun galaxy to observe with a good star field around it.  It is the sketch I am the most pleased with out of this bunch as it reflects what I was seeing at the eyepiece. 

In addition as the night wound down, I showed Chris and Mat's friends M13, M92, M22, M8, M20 and one last look at Saturn.  I also viewed the Messier Galaxies in Virgo as well.  Overall, a fun night, and a productive night.  Now if the weather will hold for this weekend I'll have a couple of nights of more observing and then an eclipse! Hold weather hold.


Last night I was getting my sketching stuff ready for observing this weekend when in the sketch holder where I place my sketches to keep them safe, I found my prodigal sketch.  I actually thought I had lost it at Pit n Pole but nope, it was just stuck in the back and I missed it.  It is of NGC 4567, NGC 4568 and NGC 4564.  NGC 4567 and NGC 4568 could be what some distant observer sees in the future, about 5 billion years as the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxy begin to collide.  Overall I am pretty happy with this sketch. 

Objects: NGC 4567, NGC 4568 and NGC 4564 spiral galaxies in Virgo.  5/12/12; 01:20am MDT or 0720UT; Pit n Pole, Utah, Antoniadi I, clear and cold; XX14i and 27mm Panoptic with 14mm & 10mm Pentax XW with Type 1 Paracorr.

NGC 4567 is the northern portion of the colliding system of galaxies here.  It is rather bright, though fairly small in size. NGC 4567 though has more surface brightness though than NGC 4568.  The core region is bright with a stellar nucleus.

NGC 4568 is the southern member of the colliding spirals.  It is rather bright and much larger than its colliding neighbor.  It is elongated SSW to NNE and has a large, bright core region.

NGC 4564 is perhaps not proportion correctly as it should be just about a 1/4 inch farther down but I ran out of room on the paper and I wanted it included.  It is smaller in size and is rather bright.  It is also elongated but in a SW to NE lay.  The outer portion is diffused and the core region is bright with a small stellar nucleus.