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6/16/2017

Deep in the Heart of Spring: Observations from May 22nd to the 24th, May 27th 2017 and Upgrade from a 12" to a 16" or 18"?

Deep in the heart of spring means galaxy work for me. In this case, deep into the heart of Virgo.  This mean 44 objects observed and sketched over a 3 night observing period.  As usual, I will bombard you with images of the drive out, the observing locations and know I do this for a reason. John Muir once stated:

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
Muir also stated:

In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware. 
Now my main observing site is out in the boonies, that is for sure, and during the week there are very few people there. Weekends, the ATVers and Trailers show up for the weekend. That is why I go on the weekend. When I go, and I have stated this before, it is a somewhat spiritual experience. I go and leave the cares of the world behind me, the cares of my day to day life, and there, in what is left of nature and wildness, I do indeed find more than I seek.

What do I find? Yes, I find many deep space objects of course, but I find more. I find humility by realizing that the mountains around me will far outlast my life, my worldly legacy and that in truth, who am I to ever think I am more than what I am? In truth, both the location and gazing up at night I find humility.  Messier 51 is going to FAR outlast my slow and eager life so it is better for me to seek to be more humble, more patient with others, more forgiving and more understanding. To value family first, friendships and that means people over gold or monetary things, thinking of Thorin's quote after the Battle of Five Armies.

This humility thus brings healing to my soul. It rights my course, providing direction to my course, and a hope that indeed, perhaps some of us, in our own lives can touch others and perhaps share this love of nature, this love of the universe with them. Doesn't matter I guess because it has healed my wounds, given more than I have ever sought, and made me enjoy the magic of the day and the night.

So when I share my pictures, realizing I am sharing a sacred thing with you. I am sharing one place, and I do have others, that I go to receive more than I seek and to have my wounds, those wounds that daily civilization brings to each of us, healed and forgotten. Peace I believe is the final thing I have found. Inner peace, and the peace that with time, I too can be better, I too can improve even until the day comes when I no longer drive these roads, walk these locations, observe through a telescope and am taught here. The day when I leave this life.  See that is another gift. The gift to accept myself, to seek to improve and to be better.

This journey to observing is symbolic of my journey in life, to find and discover things about myself, how to improve, to be and remain humble, focused on family first and other people, and to bring a continually growing peace to me as I journey through life.

I have given up on driving out on the Pony Express Road that Tooele County tore up several years ago. It is too rough, too slow and too hard on my telescope and equipment. I now go pass Five Mile Pass on State Route 73 to where it intersects with State Route 36.  Then I drive down SR 36 to Vernon and to my exit to the Wasatch National Forest Land. The distance from Five Mile Pass to the intersection with SR36 is 14.71 miles.  The distance from that intersection to the turnoff to the Pony Express Road in Faust is 15.03. Total distance is about 30 miles on a completely paved road where I can drive 70mph according to the speed limit 😏 Using this route it takes me 40 minutes to get to my turnoff to drive out to FR005 that I take to go way out to my observing location.

The Pony Express Road from Five Mile Pass to the intersection of SR 36 is about 13.42 miles.  On this road I can sometimes do 40mph and other times do 30mph depending on the grading. It's gotten bad this year so 30mph is more common.  This road now takes about 30 to 35 minutes to drive back on, my telescope is battered around, I lose collimation drastically and my car suffers.

So I have decided to take the extra 10 minutes to drive on paved roads to get to my turnoff to the Vernon Reservoir and Benmore on FR005. I have done this five times now and my collimation only needs a tweak when I get out to the site and assemble the scope. Good enough reason not to take that overly rough Pony Express Route! That and it is easier on my car, I get much improved MPG and it's easier on my, the drive.




Here is SR36 driving down towards Vernon with the Sheeprock Mountains in the Distance. 


Another view, farther north on SR36 shortly after turning off of SR 73. 



Had to pause to to get Mt Timpanogos in the far background in her majesty. Link to the Legends of Mt. Timp. 


Man, those Sheeprock Mountains are looking good! Snow up top still in late May! 


Well, they still exist! Found this racing after me near Vernon! 


FR005, the 11 mile road out to where I want to go! 




More of FR005 as it meanders. Rougher area here due to water running off at times. 


There are those wonderful Sheeprocks getting closer! 


Real close now to turning right! 


Where you turn right! 


Turned right on FR090 and heading to the first left or FR006


FR006 my favorite off road road and it is in pretty good condition! 


My turn off right after a cattle guard to Juniper Grove, my favorite site. 


My favorite Juniper! 


Beautiful! I've arrived and the healing has already began! Looking south. 

One of the things I love about spring in Utah in the wild, are the wildflowers and Juniper Grove had a lot of them! 






Lupin above 





Indian Paint Brush 



More Lupin up close. 


Site looking Southeast 


Site Looking North. 


Pan of site. 

I set up the 17.5" dob and collimated it using my passive Catseye Tools (later confirmed and checked with my Howie Glatter Collimator).  


17.5" Star Catcher set up 


17.5" Star Catcher looking south 


Closer view of 17.5" Star Catcher Looking South 


17.5" Star Catcher, my home made observing chair, my 2017 Outback. 


Side/Front view of 17.5" Star Catcher 


Coolin the Engine . . . 


Getting Closer 

Again, my favorite time came, twilight as I and the world transitioned from day to night. My friend Allan showed up and set up his refractor and we talked and enjoyed the quiet as evening slowly moved in. The Belt of Venus as usual, showed its various colors and soon, the sun set behind the Sheeprock Mountains and a final check of collimation using the Howie Glatter TuBlug and Laser (in case you don't know, Howie Glatter passed away on June 12th, 2017 after a short and fierce battle against cancer).  

Everything was good and as darkness continued to slowly slither across the valley below, and up to our observing site, and coyotes began their evening serenade, I enjoyed several quick views of Jupiter. 

As with more recent blogs, the observing instrument is my 17.5" dob with a TeleVue Type II Paracorr and then the eyepiece as noted. Here is the core information: 

Date: May 22nd or May 23rd 2017 
Telescope: 17.5" f/4.4 dob Star Catcher 
Coma Reducer: TeleVue Paracorr Type II
Location: FR006 Juniper Grove
Conditions: Antoniadi II all night above 20 degrees 
SQM -L Reading at 12:20a.m. 
Southeast: 21.88; South: 21.92: Southwest: 21.93; West: 21.93; Northwest: 21.89; North: 21.84; Northeast: 21.69 (LP SLC Metro area); East: 21.73


Once it was dark, now unfortunately about 9:45pm or so M.D.T., I turned the 17.5" to Virgo and found M87 quickly.  I had a specific target here tonight, I wanted to nail the jet if at all possible. I began with the 22mm T4 Nagler and thought I could catch a glimpse with averted vision. So next, I put in the 14mm Pentax XW with my Paracorr Type II and saw the jet a little bit more. 


1. Messier 87 Elliptical Galaxy in Virgo; May 22nd, 2017, FR006 Juniper Grove; using the 14mm Pentax XW.  Jet is observed in the inner core region which is bright and makes it hard to discern. 


1a. Messier 87 Elliptical Galaxy in Virgo; 17.5" with 7mm & 5mm Pentax XW.  Jet is more easily observed and held with direct vision.  Outer halo is detectable as is the stellar core region. I was happy that right off I was able to capture this. 


2. NGC 4193 (large spiral) and NGC 4216 (small spiral upper left) galaxies in Virgo.  May 22nd, 2017, 10:05pm MDT; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW.  

Actually two galaxies for the price of one. NGC 4193 is above a small triangle at mag 11. Large diffused outer halo with a bright inner core and a stellar nucleus.  NGC 4216 is smaller and more condense but fainter outer halo. Bright inner core with  a stellar nucleus also. Spiral arms observed. 


3. NGC 4654 and NGC 4639 galaxies in Virgo.  10:39pm MDT; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW; 

NGC 4654 has a bright even surface brightness laying NW to SE, sliver of light.  Some spiral structure is see and a bright bar is hinted at. 
NGC 4639 is a round companion of NGC 4654 with a bright inner core, a bar is evident with averted vision and some spiral structure observed. 




4. NGC 4866 a galaxy in Virgo; May 22nd, 2017; 11:24pm MDT; 22mm T4 Nagler and 10mm Pentax XW; 

Bright galaxy that is easy to locate and lays E to W mostly.  Elongated and has a bright inner core. There is a a foreground star on the galaxy just to the W to SW side of the core. Some get excited when they observe this thinking they have discovered a supernova! It isn't. Fun galaxy. 




5. NGC 3066 & NGC 3065 Spiral Galaxies in Ursa Major on May 23rd, 2017 at 1:25am MDT; 22mm T4 Nagler & 10mm Pentax XW. 

NGC 3065 is in the center and NGC 3066 is to the right and slightly down (diagonally) to the right corner.   NGC 3066 is bright, has a faint hint of a core and is round. NGC 3065 is round, with a distinct outer halo with a bright inner core and a stellar nucleus. 


6. NGC 3818 Elliptical Galaxy in Virgo. May 22, 2017; 09:45pm MDT; 22mm Nagler T4 and 10mm Pentax XW. 

Typical Elliptical Galaxy. Lays East to West with a faint outer shell and a bright inner core. 





7. NGC 3822, 3825, 3817, 3819 & 3820 galaxies in Leo/Virgo (Hickson 58).  May 22nd, 2017, 10:30pm MDT; FR006 Juniper Grove; 22mm Nagler T4, Pentax XW 10mm; 

I have labeled in the first sketch the galaxies so you can easily identify them. The bottom is the acutal sketch with nothing added.  NGC 3822 is larger than NGC 3825, is elongated South to North and is bright in the core region.  NGC 3825 has a faint outer halo with a bright inner core. Hint of some structure in the 10mm Pentax XW.  NGC 3817 is more oval in shape, with a bright inner core and is elongated NNW to SSE. NGC 3819 is a small oval in its shape with a bright inner core region. NGC 3820 is hard to detect. Averted vision is the way I got it and it is a very small oval shape. This is a fun grouping to observe in the spring and is also known as Hickson 58. 


8. NGC 3876 and NGC 6734 galaxies in Virgo. May 22nd, 2017, 11:45pm MDT;; FR006 Juniper Grove, 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler & 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 3876 is a rather faint and small galaxy, somewhat elongated with a bright core.  
NGC 6734 is a really faint, think galaxy with an even surface brightness. 


9. NGC 3914 Galaxy in Virgo. May 23, 2017 at 12:15am MDT.  FR006 Juniper Grove. Antoniadi II; 17.5" dob; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr. 

NGC 3914 is a rather bright galaxy with diffused patch of light. The envelope is ill defined and elongated NE to SW.  


10. NGC 3952 a galaxy in Virgo; May 23rd, 2017 at 12:30am MDT; FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi II; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr. 

NGC 3952 is a faint galaxy that sits East to West. It is an edge on galaxy with a bright core and some possible structure. Fun. 




11. NGC 3976 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo; May 23, 2017, 12:45am MDT; FR 006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi II; 17.5" dob; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 3976 is a bright galaxy with a mottled appearance. The edges are ill defined and suggest spiral arms. Bright inner core with what I want to say is a stellar nucleus. 




12. NGC 4030 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo. May 23, 2017; 01:00am MDT: FR006 Juniper Grove; Antoniadi II; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr; 

NGC 4030 is easily seen in my 9x50 Stellarvue finderscope. The galaxy lays NNE to SSW and is very bright, and lays between two bright field stars that are just east and north to south line between the 2 stars.  The outer halo is very bright, grainy, mottled that hints at and shows spiral structure. Inner core is very bright. Great galaxy to view! 

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Night of May 23rd to May 24th, 2017
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This night saw me returning out to FR006 and I got out late. With the memorial day weekend coming, some trailer campers and ATV riders got out to the sites earlier than I did.  I ended up at my second favorite site, FR006 Top of the World. It is at the end of FR006 as you have to go through a gate to continue on the road.  


17.5" dob Star Catcher set up, and waiting for me to collimate with my Catseye Collimation system 


17.5" from my table and looking south. It really ended up being the best night of the year, SQM-L over 21.92 and Antoniadi I all night. 


Closer view. 


Looking South, some cirrus to the southwest that later went away by sunset. 


Here you can see the gate in the upper left.  Nice wide open field here. 


Lupin! 


Looking North. 


Looking North to North-East.  


Looking in zoomed North-East. 


Zoomed in south view. 


Looking east with Mt Timpanogas just over the Juniper near center. 


Better view of Mt. Timpanogas and the other Wasatch Mountains looking east to northeast. This is where the light dome of Salt Lake hits up to around 25 degrees. 


Looking North to North-East


While there a man and his adult son came and asked if he could park his trailer there to claim the location for memorial day. It didn't interfere with the view at all so sure! They were nice and we had a nice chat. The dad works for a gun safe company and he showed me video they made of one of their gun smiths being dropped from about 200 feet and then having a car dropped on one from that height. The safe held! That was how he spent his work day before driving his trailer out. During the week I never had anyone out there, but with the huge snow pack up in the mountains people were looking for alternatives to camp. So my location was picked.  


My setup. 




This is where I sleep. There is a sleeping bag self inflated air mattress under the 2" memory foam. I will use either a sleeping bag rated to -60 degress F (so say -25 degrees F) or a nice wool blanket. This night I used my army wool blanket which is on the left side. On the right you can see my CPAP set up and ready to be connected when it is time to sleep.  I'll use the end part to store my eyepiece cases while I am observing, then I put them away in the front seat. 


Ready to collimate. 


Collimated with Catseye and now I'll check with my Howie Glatter collimation laser and TuBlug when it darkens. 


Sun is setting! Time to enjoy the evening, the set up and some dinner. 


Twilight begins. 


I'm in twilight but the Sun's rays are still reaching out. 


It is clear here, sky is darkening and I am ready to go. Just finish checking with my Howie Collimation tools which are in the black Pelican Case on top of my observing chair. 


Love this shot! 

Key information for this night of observing: 

Date: May 234th to May 25th 2017 
Telescope: 17.5" f/4.4 dob Star Catcher 
Coma Reducer: TeleVue Paracorr Type II
Location: FR006 Top of the World 
Conditions: Antoniadi I all night above 20 degrees 
SQM -L Reading at 1:30a.m. 
Southeast: 21.89; South: 21.93: Southwest: 21.93; West: 21.93; Northwest: 21.90; North: 21.85; Northeast: 21.69 (LP SLC Metro area); East: 21.72





1. NGC 3065 Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major; May 23rd, 2017; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5: dob; 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 3065 is a nice round spiral galaxy with a bright inner core region.  No structure was evident but still a good view. 


2. NGC 4123 (large central galaxy) & NGC 4116 (upper left) spiral galaxies in Virgo. May 23rd, 2017; 09:30pm MDT: Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4116 is a rather bright and elongated galaxy that is elongated NNW to SSE. It is bright on its major axis showing a bright core and a bar.  There is mottling hinting of structure. 

NGC 4123 is a large galaxy that has a diffused outer halo, small inner core, some mottling and averted vision with hints of arms. 


3. NGC 4045 a galaxy in Virgo.  May 23rd, 2017, 09:45pm MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 10mm Pentax XW; 22mm Nagler T4; Paracorr Type II. 

This galaxy is rather small, yet fairly bright due to its compactness.  It is elongated slightly West to East.  Grainy envelope which is brighter in the inner core region with well defined edges.  NGC 4045a is right next to it, small, faint with an even surface brightness. 





4. NGC 6946 Fireworks Galaxy in Cygnus/Cepheus; May 23rd, 2017, around 10:45pm; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler (bottom with 14mm Pentax XW) and 10mm Pentax XW with Paracorr Type II.  

The galaxy is easier to see above 45 degrees though the arms took averted vision to see and then once observed, the came in via direct vision providing some details by combing both methods. SN2017eaw was easily observed as shown in both sketches (higher magnification up top, lower magnification on the bottom sketch).  I estimated it as 12.8mag while the Rochester Supernova Site had it imaged in at 12.9 magnitude. Either way still rather bright and easy to view in the larger size dob. This SN was discovered by Patrick Wiggins who lives in Tooele and is a founding member of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society and has devoted his life to the organization, to doing outreach with the public to increase their awareness of astronomy and loves to fly and skydive as well. Congrats to Patrick on finding this wonderful supernova! 




5. NGC 4073, 4139, 4077, 4066 galaxies in Virgo; 5/23/17, 10:05pm MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

This is a fair cluster of galaxies that are not spectacular but are fun overall to observe. 

NGC 4073 is moderately bright with a slight elongation West to East, maybe WNW to ESE. Has a bright core with stellar nucleus. 

NGC 4139 is a very faint, elongated SW-NE galaxy with a small bright core. 

NGC 4077 is rather faint, lays N-S, with a star attached on the northern end. 

NGC 4063 is a really small, and really faint galaxy that is elongated slightly N-S. 


6. NGC 4129 Galaxy in Virgo. 5/23/17, 10:25pm MDT; FRoo6 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm Nagler T5, 10mm Pentax XW, Type II Paracorr. 

Rather small galaxy with well defined edge with bright streak in the core and a bright outer halo. Elongated E-W. 





7. NGC 4168, NGC 4164, NGC 4165 galaxies in Virgo.  5/23/17, 10:38pm MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4168 is a classic elliptical galaxy.  It has 3 shells to its halo. The outer shell fades into the cosmic backgroun. Then a brighter shell that is more dominant and finally a bright inner core region, with what I want to call a stellar nucleus.  

NGC 4165 is a rather faint, small and more round than oval shaped galaxy that is diffused. 

NGC 4164 is a very small, very faint galaxy that took averted vision to hold it in view. 



8. NGC 4273, 4277, 4281, 4270, 4259, 4268 galaxies in Virgo.  5/23/17, 11:40pm MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22 T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr; 

NGC 4259 is a rather faint galaxy with a relatively high surface brightness and is elongated NW - SE. 

NGC 4268 is a moderately bright and slightly elongated galaxy laying SW-NE with a bright core region. 

NGC 4273 is an excellent bright, well defined oval with a bright non-stellar core. Possible bar in the core region? 

NGC 4277 is a moderately bright, small galaxy that is round and is next to NGC 4273 

NGC 4281 is the largest and brightest galaxy in this group and is oval in shape. It has a well defined edge with a bright and elongated core. 

NGC 4270 is relatively bright, elongated WNW-ESE with a bright core and a stellar nucleus. 

A fun group to observe and sketch. 


9. NGC 4294 & NGC 4299; 5/24/17, 12:15am MDT: FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4294 is the largest galaxy in the field. It is very elongated SSE-NNW and is very bright along its major axis and brighter near the core.  The central portion is wider than the extremities and this galaxy is center in the sketch. 

NGC 4299 is a face on spiral galaxy (lower right in the sketch) and is irregularly round with uneven brightness, brighter on its southern side. Fun pair to observe with detail to eek out!


10. NGC 4197 galaxy in Virgo. 5/24/17; 12:30am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob, 22mm Nagler T4; 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4197 is a flat streak in the eyepiece, with well defined edges, an even surface brightness and is elongated NE-SW. 


11. NGC 4200 Galaxy in Virgo; 5/24/17; 12:47am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" Dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4200 is a very small, very faint galaxy with an even surface brightness and uneven edges. Not much here. One time visit. 


12. NGC 4206 (edge on spiral upper left center of sketch) and NGC 4216 (edge on slanted spiral bottom right in sketch). 5/24/17; 01:05am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4206 appears flat though well defined.  It is a flat streak oriented N-S and is very elongated with a bright core and a stellar nucleus.  Fun! 

NGC 4216 has a sharp bright core with a stellar nucleus.  The envelope is bright with well defined edges that taper into two faint points. Best two objects of the night! 



13. NGC 4215 Galaxy in Virgo; May 24th, 2017, 1:20am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob, 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr. 

Small galaxy with a well defined edge with small bright inner core and a stellar nucleus.  Fun object. Lays N-S. 



14. NGC 4224 & NGC 4223 Galaxies in Virgo; 5/24/17; 01:35am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5 dob, 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW; Type II Paracorr; SQM-L observations: SW 21.92, S 21.93; SE 21.89.  

NGC 4224 is a moderately bright (upper center in sketch) galaxy, broad in the middle and bright along its axis.  Well defined edged and the galaxy is elongated ENE-WSW with a bright but small inner core and a stellar nucleus. 

NGC 4223 is on the bottom right and is elongated N-S, perhaps more WNW-ESE with a bright core.  Extensions are large and are seen using averted vision. 




15. NGC 4235, NGC 4246 & NGC 4247 galaxies in Virgo.  5/24/17, 02:05am MDT; FR006 Top of the World; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Type II Paracorr. 

NGC 4235 is a relatively bright and rather large, edge on galaxy laying SW-NE. It has a bright halo and this is brighter in the core region.  Lays above a triangle of stars. Nice view! 

NGC 4246 is a faint but moderately large galaxy and is slightly elongated E-W.  The galaxy has a low surface brightness. 

NGC 4247 is very, very faint and is round in shape with a very low surface brightness. 


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Night of May 27th, 2017, FR040 Harker Canyon. 
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I have given enough pictures so basically this is the same view as Top of the World with more Juniper's to block any light from SR 36.  Sorry, a new location that I am using from time to time that I really like so I am keeping this site close to me. You'll have to observe with me when I go there to know where it is.  The name I have for it is like my other sites, based on an actual experience there, and you can figure out why I call it Elk Crossing. I only spent about 3 hours observing before going home. 

Date: May 27th, 2017 
Telescope: 17.5" f/4.4 dob Star Catcher 
Coma Reducer: TeleVue Paracorr Type II
Location: FR040 Elk Crossing  
Conditions: Antoniadi I1 all night above 20 degrees 
SQM -L Reading at 12:30 a.m. (right before I left) 
Southeast: 21.89; South: 21.93: Southwest: 21.94; West: 21.94; Northwest: 21.9; North: 21.85; Northeast: 21.67 (LP SLC Metro area); East: 21.72





1.  NGC 4241 and IC 3102 Galaxies in Virgo.  May 27th, 2017, 10:05pm, FR040 Elk Crossing; Antoniadi I, 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler; 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4241 is a really faint and oval shape galaxy (center of sketch) with a low surface brightness and some brightening near the core region. 

IC 3102 is the better visual galaxy.  It is semi bright galaxy with a small bright core and possible extensions I sketched in hinting of arms on the end of the galaxy. Nice object!



2. NGC 4260, NGC 4269 & IC 3136, Galaxies in Virgo. 5/27/17, 10:30pm MDT; FR040 Elk Crossing; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm Nagler T4, 10mm Pentax XW; Paracorr Type II. 

IC 3136 is a small and faint galaxy that is elongated SSW-NNE and has an even surface brightness. 

NGC 4260 is a WONDERFUL galaxy to observe with a faint outer halo giving way to a brighter found inner core with a stellar nucleus.  Arm structure is easily seen in this one.  

NGC 4269 is a moderately bright and rather small and round galaxy with a low surface brightness.  It has a bright and round inner core. 


3. NGC 4261 & NGC 4264 Galaxies in Virgo. 5/27/17, 10:55pm MDT; FR040 Elk Crossing; Antoniadi I; 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Type II Paracorr. 

NGC 4261 is a very bright, very large elliptical galaxy that is oval to almost roundish in shape and lays NNW to SSE.  It is sharp, with bright concentration and a very bright and large core that goes to a quasi stellar nucleus.  This elliptical is quiet on the visual front but very active in the x-ray and radio spectrum. The reason for this is for its 400 million mass central black hole with has a  800-light-year-wide spiral-shaped disk of dust fueling it (Link to Wikipedia on NGC 4261). Hubble has a fine image of the center of this galaxy, Link

NGC 4264 is a moderately bright, and rather small, and round galaxy with a weak concentration of light. It is just down and to the right of NGC 4261. 


4. NGC 4267 a galaxy in Virgo.  5/27/2017, 11:20pm MDT; FR040 Elk Crossing; Antoniadi I, 17.5" dob; 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Type II Paracorr. 

NGC 4267 is a very large lenticular galaxy and is very bright and roundish to oval in shape, more roundish.  There is a sharp concentration that increases gradually to bright inner core to a stellar nucleus. 


5. NGC 4296 & NGC 4297 galaxies in Virgo. 5/27/17, 11:45pm MDT; FR040 Elk's Crossing; Antoniadi I, 17.5" dob, 22mm T4 Nagler, 10mm Pentax XW, Paracorr Type II. 

NGC 4296 is a rather small, faint galaxy with a bright core and is elongated N-S.  Best view is south of the core.  

NGC 4297 is really, REALLY small and faint, and round in shape. Just off of NGC 4296 which is larger. 


Not a bad couple of nights. 32 objects sketched and recorded and 14 more that I recorded my observations on in Sky Tools 3.  Now to sneak out on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night of this coming week! 


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Do I upgrade from a 12" to a 16" or 18" dob? 
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So on this trip I had a friend with me on the night of August 23rd to the 24th. He is a long time observing companion and friend, and I have observed with him since he was 18.  He is now 28 so that is 10 years. Shahid is a wonderful observing companion, we focus on our objects, go for a couple of hours and then usually take a break to relax and talk and rest our eyes and bodies.  Shahid still uses his Zhumall 12" solid tube dob which has a very good mirror and gives excellent views.  Shahid was wondering if the differences in his 12" was worth upgrading to a scope like my 17.5", or basically to a 16" to 18".  

We went to M51 when it was at zenith and compared the views. I'll have to post the sketch I made later as a comparison, but my 17.5" Star Catcher nailed M51. It was extremely bright, with two arms clearly evident with mottling and dark and light points in the arms. The core was stellar and the arm between M51 and NGC 5195 was also clearly evident with streaks and patches of light embedded. 

Shahid's 12" gave a very good view of M51, but definitely not as bright, the arms were harder to detect and there was no structure in the arms. The bridge was about 1/4 of the way to NGC 5195 with no specific detail there. In both cases you could see stars imposed on M51 but the 17.5" showed more of them. When done looking I believe Shahid's reply was he was basically no longer on the fence, but was going to upgrade to a 16" Meade Lightbridge. 

So yes, aperture in truly dark skies makes a significant difference in what you view and see. Shahid was there also when I captured my SQM-L readings and witnessed them.  

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