Observing Sessions March 22nd & March 28th 2014

On Saturday, March 22nd, 2014, I had the opportunity to drive out to the West Desert and observe for the evening. My friend Jeff was there and later we were joined by my friend Craig and several of Jeff's co-workers and friends.  I took both the 14" and my 102mm (4") refractor with me and set both up.  The skies that night were steady, good transparency and excellent seeing. I spent the first part of the night looking at winter objects that I really have not had time to observe this year due to the weather.

That night my friend Craig borrowed my Orion XT10 and he brought it out after picking it up from my house. After Craig set it up I was amazed at how rough the azmuith motion was as I have become use to the buttery smooth motions of my 14".  Anyway, Craig used the scope that night and the old 10" gave some good views of objects.

I started with eye candy myself. This has been a horrible winter for observing again and I have only gotten out about once a month since November.  This night I visited the Orion Nebula, Messier 42 both in the 14" and in the 102mm refractor.  I have to say that after looking in the 102mm refractor at a dark site, I have committed to taking only the refractor out to do some deep sky, wide field observing one night. I loved how it framed M42, NGC 1981, NGC 1977 and brought it out so nicely.  In the 14" the Zambuto brought out a wonderful contrast of the nebulosity, with vary degrees of complexity and depth easily seen. The dark lane really stood out and E and F in the Trapezium were easily seen.  From there I popped over to Sirus and took a look at the Pup which is easily split right now. Then down to Messier 41, and continuing down to my favorite open cluster, NGC 2362 or the Mexican Jumping Bean.  From here I went up to Messier 82 and took a peak at the supernova there which was still visible and then I had fun seeing M81&82; M108, M97 the Owl Nebula.  At that point I was ready to get to work as Leo had now risen.

In Leo was going to focus on working on some of the Herschel 2500, and using Bratton's guide, I've decided to revisit them by constellation.  So Leo is up and I chose to work in Leo.

1. NGC 2872, 2874 & 2873 galaxies in Leo.  March 22,2014; 5 Mile Pass, Utah; 10:32pm MDT or 04:32 UT; 14" dob; 20mm Pentax & 10mm Pentax XW w/Paracorr Type I. Antoniadi II

These three galaxies are faint, with NGC 2873 being the faintest, it is the little faint fuzzy to the upper left of the other two.  NGC 2872 has bright inner core region, with diffusion around it. It is above NGC 2874 which is the largest of the 3 galaxies. NGC 2874 has a stellar core, bright inner core region and diffusion around that.  NGC 2873 was only seen with averted vision, and it seem t come and go.

2. NGC 2893 galaxy in Leo.  March 22, 2014; 10:03pm MDT or 04:03UT; near 5 Mile Pass UT; 14" Dob with Type I Paracorr; 7mm Pentax XW; Antoniadi II.

This galaxy is a mix between an elliptical shape and being kinda of roundish in its shape. No further structure seen though the core was brighter than I have it here.

3. NGC 3894 Spiral Galaxy in Leo; March 22nd, 2014; 10:55pm MDT or 0455 UT; near 5 Mile Pass, Utah; Antoniadi II; 14" dob with 7mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type I.

I really enjoyed the star field on this galaxy. It was interesting to have the stars next to the galaxy.  The galaxy is elongated, diffused on the outer edges with brightening near the core.  Core is stellar in appearance.  Field stars are 1 to the west and 3 to the east. Fun object to sketch.

4.  I have been to this object before on March 28th, 2010 and it is at this LINK on my blog, about 3/4 of the way done. NGC 2903 & NGC 2905, Spiral Galaxy in the constellation of Leo; March 22nd, 2014; 11:15pm MDT or 0515 UT; near 5 Mile Pass Utah; Antoniadi II; 14" dob with 10mm & 7mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type I.

Galaxy has a very bright inner core with a hint of spiral arms on each end to the north and south.  The core region is bright with diffusion going out from there. There is a bright region to the south of the core which is NGC 2905 and ti has a mottled appearance to the galaxy.  Nice object, worthy of the visit or in this case, revisit.

5. NGC 2906 Spiral Galaxy in Leo; 11:25pm MDT or 0525 UT; near 5 Mile Pass, Utah; Antoniadi II; 14" dob with 7mm Pentax XW, Type I Paracorr;

This is a case where I like my actual sketch rather than my photo I took of it. I just didn't capture the detail I had made on the sketch in the photo.  This is a small but bright galaxy with a very bright inner core and a hint of structure on northwest side of the galaxy.  Fun object to tease detail out of.

 6. NGC 2964 is the center and largest spiral galaxy here. NGC 2968 is the next on up to the uper left of NGC 2964 and NGC 2970 is the faint fuzzy to the top left and all are spiral galaxies in Leo.  March 22nd, 2014; 11:40pm MDT or 0540 UT; near 5 Mile Pass, Utah; Antoniadi II; SQM 21.61; 14" dob with 7mm & 5mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type I.

NGC 2964 is irregular in shape, has a bright inner core region and mottling is evident in the galaxy as captured in the sketch.  NGC 2968 is somewhat elongated and opaque in shape. Has a brightening toward the core but is very much diffused.  NGC 2970 is just a roundish smudge or  fuzziness. Averted vision helps to view it. This is a repeat of a capture of the two main galaxies on March 10th, 2010 in my 10 inch dob. That is at this link if you want to go and view it. A lot more detail with a more experience eye and the larger aperture.

On March 28th I got out but I really didn't do any personal observing. My friend Mat had his two friends come out and they were using binoculars and then Mat would show them what they were viewing in his 8 inch dob and I would show them the same object in the 14".  We actually saw a lot of objects that night from M81, M82, M51, M101, NGC 2362 which I need to sketch again.  Also M42, M41, M44, and Thor's Helmet, NGC 2359 among them all.  In both cases the zodiacal light was very bright and obvious.  A good night that was. This was a short session of about 3 hours due to weather coming in, but it was still a fun night!