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After such a long wait.... two nights in a row. This time I had just over an hour and a half. I started my evening in Monoceros by locating NGC 2264, the Christmas Tree cluster. I was unable to see any hint of nebulosity but the cluster is attractive none the less. The sky looked reasonably transparent so I turned slightly to the South to look at the Rosette cluster NGC 2244. Out came the 8mm eyepiece with the UHC-s filter in hope to see a little more but to start with I could only see the stars of the cluster. After a minute or so, I started to sweep across the whole area and began to notice that the centre was darker than its surrounding. The milky radiance of NGC 2237 (Caldwell 49, the Rosette Nebula) was most noticable beyond the stars HD46106 and HD46149 (to the North...ish) but could be detected all around the cluster and the darker centre. The outer edge of the nebula's halo was impossible to discern however, due to its more gradual dimming. I was stunned that I managed to pick anything up at all. My next target was the second brightest planetary nebula in Gemini, (NGC 2371 and NGC 2372). The area was reasonably easy to find but the nebula did not come through until I had the filtered 8mm eyepiece trained on it. Initially I could just detect a condensed fuzz but as I stared at it, I seemed to detect a figure of eight shape to it with averted vision. I then turned my attention to Leo. A pair of galaxies equidistant between Zeta and Gamma Leonis with an asterism as a clear marker. They looked quite similar to eachother in the same 8mm eyepiece field of view and were moderately difficult to see. NGC 3190 was slightly easier to view than NGC 3193, as the latter was very close to a ninth magnitude star which added a minor distraction to its observation. My final target was NGC 4214 in Canes Venatici. This was very tough, despite its recorded magnitude of just 9.8. Beyond 6 Canes Venaticorum lies the diffuse ellipse of NGC 4244 and beyond that with ever fewer and feinter marker stars was a quite large circular ghostly glow of the target galaxy. By this time the cold had set in and so I called it a night. Very happy with my new finds, both tonight and yesterday. ____________________________________________________________ Observing Session: Tuesday 2nd April 2013, 20:50 hrs to 22:25 hrs BST VLM at Zenith: 5.2 New - Revisited - Failed
I didn't realise it was clear until I poked my head out of the window around 10pm. I then scrambled to astro-action stations and the scope was ready soon after 10:30pm. The sky was ok but nothing special and the horizons were a little misty but given slim pickings in recent times, there was no way I was going to waste this opportunity to view some more galaxies. I started with M63, a nice bright galaxy which is reasonably easy to find. I simply wanter to make sure I got my eye in before attempting anything more difficult. The more difficult galaxies were over towards the East of Canes Venatici, namely the magnitude 11 pair NGC 5353 and NGC 5354. These are close together and both have a high surface brightness. The former of the two was much easier to view, the dimmer companion took time to separate but gradually it was possible to see both as hazy stars. No other galaxies in this rich area were visible, including NGC 5350 which I did spend some time trying to get a hint of. Back in the centre of the constellation, I returned to NGC 4490, just beyond Chara. Another nearby galaxy was NGC 4618, condensed and just detectable. A rough continuation of that trajectory brought me to the far brighter M94. This had a very bright core and quite large almost circular halo surround. One of the best galaxies in the night sky. A little further West, I managed to glimpse the very long milky radiance of another galaxy NGC 4244 (Caldwell 26). Surprisingly harder to see was the only Coma Berenices galaxy of the night M98. This took nearly half an hour before I convinced myself that I had managed to see it. Five new galaxies after another long wait. Tomorrow night looks promising. Fingers crossed for another report of more galaxies tomorrow. ____________________________________________________________ Observing Session: Saturday / Sunday, 2nd / 3rd March 2013, 22:30 hrs to 00:40 hrs GMT VLM at Zenith: 5.1 New - Revisited - Failed
After a promisingly sunny day, with only a few fair-weather cumulus clouds floating around, I had high hopes for this evening and I was anticipating having another attempt at imaging the pair of galaxies NGC 3718 and NGC 3729 - which had been cut short a couple of nights ago due to the telescope dewing up. Anyway, I set up the telescope with the hope that I could get the imaging done before a large area of overcast, which I'd been watching on satellite images for most of the day, drifted in. When I was ready to go I noticed that there were already a few clouds coasting across and so I decided to change plan and have an attempt at observing some galaxies I hadn't seen before. First up was the pair of galaxies NGC 4490 and NGC 4485. I manged to find these via an easy star hop from Cor Caroli up to Chara. The pair of galaxies is pretty much on the intersection of this line and the line through the stars HIP 60539 and HIP 60791. They were fairly straightforward to pick out with my 15 mm EP but my 10 mm EP gave better contrast. They looked rather like a pair of almost-merging elongated faint blobs in a sort of crudely drawn L shape. I was surprised how much could be picked out despite the sky being fairly hazey by then, with a slight orange cast. Cheered by this I then had a quick check of Stellarium and I saw that NGC 4244, C26, The Needle Galaxy was an easy slew away and so I decided to try for this next. I set the finder back on Chara and I then passed through HIP 60646 and on to a point in a rough line from the stars HIP 60231 and HIP 61061A (checking against Stellarium to make sure that the view through the finder looked right). Sure enough, the galaxy was quite clear with my trusty 15 mm EP. I was amazed how large it appeared and it was certainly very impressive - despite the encrouching cloud making viewing increasingly difficult. Although the galaxy is faint it certainly still has the wow factor. After that, conditions became increasingly difficult and I finished my short session with some viewing of Jupiter which can still yield a lot of detail through thin hazey cloud. I find that this can take the edge off the brightness and helps with contrast - though that might be just my wishful thinking.