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Bodkin

A few Caldwell galaxies and a distant globular cluster

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A short observing session last night.  It is strange how often a clear, moonless night seems to arrive on a Sunday.  Anyway, it was out with the old 10 inch which is now mounted on a homemade dobsonian contraption, making it my grab-and-go scope.

The sky was not as dark as I had initially hoped.  My preferred winter object to test the darkness is the Flame nebula.  It was clearly visible, but not as clear and detailed as I normally expect.  That put an end to my original intention of tracking down the brightest members of a few well placed galaxy clusters.  I scuttled around in Orion, checking out the highlights - M42/43, M78, the blank patch of sky where the horsehead should be...

My normal next move would be to swing around ninety degrees and get stuck into the spring galaxies.  This time I thought I would see what I have been missing.  First, an old favourite that I have not seen for some time - the Eskimo nebula (C39, NGC2392).  A relatively easy find this time; I have struggled in the past sometimes.  The star and inner nebulosity were clear, but there was no sign of the outer hood.  I have not seen the hood with the 10 inch, so was not expecting more really. 

On to some lesser observed (by me anyway) Caldwell objects. C53 is a bright galaxy in Sextans; one of those objects that is easier than many of the Messier list.  The elongated oval shape is easy.  Being an SO galaxy there are no spiral arms to be seen. 

C48 is another of my seldom visited list.  Relatively easy to find a short hop from 16 Hydra towards Regulus.  The bright non-stellar core was clear and a little brightness surrounding it, but no other detail.

Across into Leo for another Caldwell - C40.  The main problem with finding this one is the initial confusion with the nearby galaxies NGC 3607 and 3608.  These are brighter than C40 and make a nice pairing in the eyepiece.  C40 is a little to the east.  It is another fairly featureless galaxy, but was chosen for the list because of the unusual rotation of its gas - something for me to check out on the net tonight.

As I was in Leo I checked out some old friends; the Leo triplet, M95, M96, M105 and their surrounding galaxies.  Plus I checked out a few of the galaxy groupings I had seen the last time I was here.

Finally, another Caldwell and one that I don't remember looking at before, C25.  This is a very distant globular cluster (about 280K light years) in the constellation Lynx.  Starhopping looked pretty easy from Castor, however I was struck by how much more difficult it is to track down small dim objects in rich parts of the sky compared to the barren wastes of Virgo or Leo.  There are so many more stars that catch the eye and slow down the hunt.  A couple of trips back to Stellarium and I had it in the eyepiece.  No resolution of the individual stars of course, but it formed a very nice view in line with two stars; a sort of mini Orion's belt. 

While packing up I thought about the importance of the Caldwell catalogue.  Some of the objects are bright and visually interesting; things that Messier missed I suppose.  However, the real interest for me is that each object seems to have been chosen to get one thinking about the science of astronomy as well.  What is C25 doing so far from the galaxy, why is the gas in C40 rotating the wrong direction compared to the stars, why doesn't C48 display the normal star-forming regions of an Sa spiral galaxy?  I am a convert.

That was it for me.  Oh yes, there was also some local detritus about if you are into that kind of thing.

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A nice report, enjoyed the read. Been a few years now since i've done something like that.

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Nice report, Bodkin, good information on the Caldwell List (which I'm only new to).  I love the Eskimo Nebula, great choice! 

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Looking forward to ferreting these out!

Nice to read about some of the non-messier targets.

Thanks for the report.

Paul

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That's such a great report. I've yet to see the flame nebula with my 200p, though I'm sure that I should be able to. Do you have any tips on this?

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That's such a great report. I've yet to see the flame nebula with my 200p, though I'm sure that I should be able to. Do you have any tips on this?

Thank you, I was trying to get across the enjoyment I had doing the observing.  The Flame is heavily dependent on the quality of the skies.  Although I said that the sky was poorer than expected, it was still pretty good by UK standards.  It is worth moving Alnitak out of the field of view and then just spending a bit of time waiting to see if it turns up.  I don't have any filters, but there may be one that helps; maybe another member may know?. 

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 Starhopping looked pretty easy from Castor, however I was struck by how much more difficult it is to track down small dim objects in rich parts of the sky compared to the barren wastes of Virgo or Leo.  There are so many more stars that catch the eye and slow down the hunt.  A couple of trips back to Stellarium and I had it in the eyepiece.  No resolution of the individual stars of course, but it formed a very nice view in line with two stars; a sort of mini Orion's belt. 

I had a look at the Intergalactic Wanderer at the beginning of the month, and yes, I found it really hard to track down, even though it looked quite simple. Fascinating object.

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Enjoyed reading your tour - makes you appreciate just how much there is to see.  

andrew

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