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Walking on the Moon

Observing 'The Box' - Hickson 61 + few others

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For  members that attended the star party SGLX11 they might recall the talk giving by Mark Stuart the Galaxy Hunter. As part of his talk Mark mentioned 'The Box' _ Hickson 61 which is a group of 4 galaxies in Come Berenices. I was not aware of this group before Mark's talk so I went looking last night even though I knew the galaxies were faint. Well I found the area using my Uranometria star atlas and I could see NGC4169 straight away. Spending some time viewing the area the galaxies NGC4174 and NGC4175 could be seen although  I could not see NGC4173.

Mark mentioned to me yesterday that I should view NGC4220 an edge on galaxy in Canes Venatici. Again easy to find mainly because it is so close to M106. M106 was lovely in the 12 " Dob and NGC4220 was quite bright and its shape could easily be seen.

When I attended the SGLX10 last year one of my most enjoyable views was looking through Stu's large Dob at NGC4485 and NGC4490 (Cocoon Galaxy) in Canes Venatici. So I decided to repeat the experience using my 12" Dob. This is a lovely view of two galaxies that are interacting with each other - certainly worth a look if you can.

I then went further back in time to a previous SGL star party when I spent a great nights viewing with John and PhilJ who was using his video set up through his 5" Frac. We viewed NGC4631 (Whale Galaxy) and NGC4656 (Hockey Stick) and I recall the image that Phil had on his monitor. So I repeated that experience again through the 12". The Whale is very bright and the Hockey Stick slightly more difficult to see but again great to have them together.

I ended the night viewing 3 lovely Globulars - M3, M53 and M13.

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Nice report Mark, I too have never heard of the Box other than the television and Hickson 61 sounds like a medical procedure.

It only seems the other week that M13 left my evening sky and now it is back into your sky though latitude will help there of course. It is a fabulous globular as are the other two, M22 ranks highly in my books as well.


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Great report Mark - you and I were viewing just the same part of the sky last night, through similar scopes and with rather similar results !

I did look up our old friends the Whale and Hockeystick galaxies again and found them just as you describe. I might have glimpsed "the Calf" momentarily once or twice with extreme averted vision but I'd certainly need a darker and more transparent sky than last night to be certain.

I'll have a go at "the Box" next time I'm in the vicinity.

2 clear nights on the trot - whatever next !

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Sounds like you had another good session. I struggle with that fourth box galaxy even with my 16 inch!

I was out last night looking at galaxies in Virgo. Virgo is pretty low down here at the best of times and just comes up above the haze at this time of year so I take any clear nights I can at this time of year to view it.

I observed 14 galaxies of various shapes and sizes last night. I had another go at M 99 but could not see the arm in my skies. After I come in I like to have a look on-line at the galaxies I have seen and sometimes something sticks out. One of the galaxies I observed last night was NGC 4325. I assumed it was just another Virgo cluster member. It was a small tough mag 14 object which needed averted vision to pick up. There were only three stars in the FOV in my 7mm WO eyepiece so not really an amazing visual feast. When I checked though NGC 4325 is 350 million light years away so although it is in the direction of the Virgo Cluster (below the Markarian Chain etc) it is four times as far away than most of the other fuzzies in the area.

NGC 4325 seems to be the central elliptical of a cool core galaxy group..here is the article which I must confess I do not understand very well..


Here is a pic I found of the area on the internet.


It looks like NGC 4320, which I did not observe by the way :( is part of the group based on its redshift but if it is that is a massive tail. At 350 mly 100,000 light years is one arc second across. So that tail must be 100,000 light years long I guess. If you look closely I can see two cores and two tails so I think this is a merger. It looks a bit like the antenna galaxies and those computer model animations which show how two colliding galaxies.

It is researching the objects and finding out this sort of stuff that just adds to the whole experience of observing.







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