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gooseholla

13-14th October 2015: M31, M33, Pacman and more.

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I made a late call to set up going at 9:20pm. It was partly cloudy but forecasts had clear skies coming. I may look stupid (but it is dark and who is going to see me?) but I have really benefited from using an eyepatch on my right eye while observing. I can view so much more comfortably and for longer.

Andromeda M31/M32/M110

I started with the Andromeda galaxy and spent about an hour and a half viewing it and its surrounding galaxies. I used a 20mm Nagler T5 giving 91x magnification for most of the viewing, though I did try a 15mm at 122x for a while but this didn’t really add anything.

The core appeared as a bright blob, similar in size to M32. There was a stellar like point at the centre. Several stars were superimposed on top of the bright core which appeared a bluish grey to my eyes tonight.

I noted faint haze out to HIP 3447 and the inner dust lane seemed to extend out to here. It extended the other way and curved around the inner bright core somewhere between M32 and HIP 3293. A longer outer dust lane was seen reaching out past HIP 3293. I also thought I saw some form of structure between M32 and the star HIP 3333 but this could be my imagination. It was a very faint haze with a dark line, not very big. I’m not going to call this as definite but will be looking out in this area in the future.

Below the star HIP 3293 I noted a line of three faint stars. Beyond this was a group of stars looking like a miniature version of the constellation Leo. Nesting between these two groups was a fuzzy patch seen with averted vision. It was NGC 206. An 8mm giving 230x confirmed the presence of a fuzzy patch. No detail was seen but it was nice to know you can see a star cluster in another galaxy!

M32 appeared as a featureless blob but I detected three stages to it. A bright stellar like point, a bright haze around this blending into a dull faint fuzz.

As the night went on I came back to the system of three galaxies. Using a higher power on M110 I could see that there was a core, an elongated haze shape to the galaxy and a couple of faint stars within the haze. Nothing structure wise or definite shape was seen however.

Pacman Nebula

I have wanted to see this nebula for a while now.  I have tried before in my 12” telescope and not had any success. However tonight I finally saw it. Using a 20mm Nagler T5 with UHC filter I moved to the area of the nebula. I noted the Y shaped star formation pointing to a star above, telling me I was in the correct area. Slowly but surely white fuzziness appeared around the star. A 24mm with OIII filter didn’t do much, nor did the 24mm with UHC so I kept with the 20mm/UHC combo. After a few minutes a definite pacman shape with mouth appeared. It wasn’t very bright and hard to make out from the background. Several faint stars appeared in the vicinity.

Clouds rolled in for about an hour cutting my observation short. When I came back out just after midnight I decided to try different targets that would be disappearing behind trees soon. I will return to this nebula again and was really excited to have finally seen it.

I also tried for the California Nebula. Wouldn’t say I saw much but definite hints of nebulosity in the area.

Mirach

At about 12:45am I stopped off at Mirach. The star was a bright yellow colour. I detected a faint star close to it, somewhere just below it and also the galaxy Ghost of Mirach to the north was easy to spot.

Triangulum M33

I found the galaxy when it was high in the sky, near the zenith. The streetlights had gone off so it must have been about 1am. I used a 20mm Nagler T5 giving 91x magnification. A 24mm, giving 76x magnification made it almost disappear apart from a small part of the bright core. Switching back to the 20mm, I noted first the bright core and a rather faint haze around it. Below was a star with a small fuzzy blob next to it looking like a galaxy in its own right. Could I have detected NGC 604?

Near the core I noted several faint stars around the top. Later I started to see darker patches with averted vision suggesting structure. However, I am not certain and it may just be my eyes trying to join up the faint stars ala canals on Mars.

It was hard to determine a shape. It seemed to go off in two different directions, with averted vision showing that there was a part to the top left of the core. I couldn’t get a definite shape just a rough idea of the general area of fuzziness, as shown by this sketch. This one is tough! I could have changed the shape several times, new parts seemed to be appearing all the time. Definitely an irregular galaxy shape in the fuzz somewhere!

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M74

After viewing Triangulum galaxy for a while and it moving ever closer to a tree, I star hoped from Aries across to Eta Psc. I searched for M74 and found it, though it was very faint tonight and averted vision was needed to find it. It barely stood out from the background. No detail was seen.

Star Clusters

While waiting for M42 to rise high enough I visited a few star clusters. The Pleiades, Hyades, M36 and M38 in Auriga and the area around Mirphak in Perseus. Nothing special to note but lots of stars on display. I eventually made it up to the Double Cluster in Perseus which was high in the sky by now and took a quick look.

M42

It was getting near to 2am and I could see cloud coming in from the north east. Even though it was low down I stuck my 20mm back into the eyepiece holder and took a look at the Orion nebula. It was large, the fish mouth by the trapezium of stars was on display. By this appeared a U-shaped wing. The nebula was rounded and larger than I remember ever seeing it. There was also nebulosity by some stars just above this nebula.

With the clouds getting closer I decided to pack up after a couple of minutes viewing of the nebula.

A good night and new details seen in Andromeda and M33. Really happy.

John

Edited by gooseholla
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Great report on what sounded like a good night, I would love something to go out and look at apart from clouds and water failing out of them. M33 is one I have yet to try, at the moment the house is getting in the way until too late for me, sadly I am up every morning before the crack of dawn, which can even be nice if it is clear on a summer morning, now it is just damp and very dark.

Last time out I  did look at M31 but I always feel this needs a wider field than I can come up with, I actually prefer it in the M/N 190mm where I can get over 3 degrees but with a large exit pupil, probably too large for my eyes these days .

You should try thr Viel nebula, again you can't get it all in any FOV with your scope but you will love what you can.

Alan

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Very nice report John :smiley:

I got my dob out and cooled last night but the cloud hadn't broken by 11:30 pm so I gave up.

Your description and sketch of NGC604 is spot on so I'm sure you did see it. Now I know where it is it's realtively easy with my 12". A UHC type filter helps make it and some other H II regions within M33 "pop" a bit more but you loose a little of the galaxies background glow. With your 18" you have a little light to play with though :smiley:

As you are finding, as with the planets, the more you study galaxies and other deep sky objects, the more detail you gradually see.

Great stuff !

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I think veil will have to wait until next year. By the time it is clear again the moon will be out then when clocks change it will be well behind some trees.

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Very nice report of a very productive session. Thanks for posting.

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Very nice session! Glad you had a good time!

Here was cloudy unfortunately.

Thanks for sharing,

Piero

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This is a great report which just get us newbies inspired to grow our knowledge (and kit!) and find more! [emoji3]

Dazzyt

FirstScope (soon to be Skyliner 200p)

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Another detailed report John and a great read, makes me want to compare my notes/sketches to what you saw. :)

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Good stuff John. I got NGC604 in the 8" from mag 20.5 skies and your description is correct as other John says. Nice one [emoji3]

Look forward to seeing the scope at SGL11!

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