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C26, NGC 4244, The Silver Needle Galaxy


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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.

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Good report WaveSoarer. Spotting new galaxies is a treat and good thing there are loads of 'em! The Needle sounds interesting and several other Messiers in that constellation i havent tried. I had a look at NGC2841 in UMa last night for a new target. Being near zenith it was a nice view and much more productive than M65 etc. Easy to find too! Clear skies.

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