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In preparation for the upcoming "galaxy season", I have been busy re-organising my eyepieces across my eyepiece boxes.
I am expecting to be using a mix of traditional and a-focal night vision observing. Therefore, I have put together a "mixed" case of eyepieces. There is a little space remaining just in case I need to swap in a couple more (but I don't tend to go outside will all my eyepieces in one go as they only get cold and unuseable, I prefer to leave a couple inside for a mid-session warm eyepiece swap-in!
I have also created a new Sky Safari "brightest galaxies" observing list so I can target these larger/brighter galaxies with the night vision to hopefully tease out some views of unseen spiral arms? (most likely with the 55mm TeleVus Plossl) as focal speed is key to getting the arms. I may need to swap in the TeleVue Panoptic 27mm for more scale (but we will see)...
[Here is the Sky Safari Observing List that I will be using Galaxy High Brightness.skylist should you wish to try it too…(you can import it into your Sky Safari - just email it to yourself then when you try to open the file in the email app it should offer you the chance to "open with Sky Safari") ]
Having learned last year that night vision is not much help on the smaller galaxies (they just get overpowered by the super bright galaxy cores), I have the TeleVue Ethos 21, 13, 10 ready for some "traditional viewing" (with the option of swapping in the Ethos 8 as needed) on the smaller galaxies. I am eagerly awaiting the heavenly widefield views of endless galaxies as seen in Leo with the Ethos21 and the big dob!
Last year turned out to be a "Supernova Marathon" with seemingly weekly supernovas occuring over the UK (and I managed to bag EIGHT of them with the Big Dob).
NGC 3941 - SN2018pv UGC 5049 - SN2018pc NGC2746 - SN2018iq NGC3367 - SN2018kp NGC6217 - SN2018gj NGC3158 - SN2018aaz NGC2146 - SN2018zd NGC4151 - SN2018aoq I can't see that happening two years running but I did bag SN AT2018ivc (in M77) on December 1st. Tonight I will be targeting SN2019np in NGC3254 so here's hoping...
Either way, I will need a good supply of clear sky, so lets hope our luck is in.
Wishing you the best for Galaxy season,
Date: Thursday 17th January 2019. 0310-0640hrs
Scope: 20” f3.6 Lukehurst Dob with Paracorr (fl = 2089mm & f4.1).
Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS. Plossl 55mm (f2 x38).
Eyepieces: Ethos 13mm (x150), Ethos 10mm (x200).
Moon: 75% (until 4am)
Last night was one of those “nervous” nights when you go to bed early with clear skies outside (including a 75% Devils Orb 😡) and set your alarm for 3am hoping the clear skies will still be there (but not the Orb)…
I awoke around 0250am and checked outside, still clear! I dressed and headed off down to the shed…
Once setup and having completed the alignment for Nexus, I headed straight for the supernova SN 2019np in NGC3254. (I had drawn a star map earlier from some of the posted images!)
Supernova SN 2019np 😀
I started with the Ethos10 (x200) and could see the hazy galaxy patch with a dot in the right place for the supernova. I could pick out 3 other stars and went to check my star map. I recognized the 2 bright stars and swapped to the Ethos13 (x150) for a bit more of the field. I could still see the SN with the lower power but field stars were still at a premium (the moon had not quite gone in the West so the sky was being impacted).
I switched to Night Vision and added the 55mm Plossl with the PVS-14 NVD attached. Now I was down to only x38 magnification but the galaxy and SN were clear and easy. I now had many more fainter stars to work with and returned to my drawn star map. I matched up a few more stars and hey presto – the SN 2019np was observed!
Now, I sketched out a new map based on what I could see…
Brightest Galaxy Observing List
I had come across a post on cloudynights detailing a list of 210 brightest galaxies and had used this list to make an “observing list” in Sky Safari 5. Now it was time to highlight that list and see what Night Vision could make of these brightest few…
NGC3432 – edge-on. Bright. Seems to have a black mark coming in on one side. Needs more magnification.
😀NGC3184 – ARMS! Decent size too. Circle of arms around the core then backwards “S” of arms clearly seen.
M108 – Flat edge-on disc. 2 bright patches (1 is core and other on RHS). Two large black areas above and below.
😀NGC3631 – ARMS! Core surrounded by circular disk. Playing with the gain, I see what looks like a double arm up over the top.
NGC3718 (+ 3729) – both galaxies seem to have delicate faint arms. 3729 is tiny. 3718 has a circular arm shape around the core & black patches on both sides.
NGC3917 – faint vertical edge-on.
NGC3953 – bright side-on. 2 black patches on either side.
😀M109 – ARMS! Central horizontal bar then 2 sweeping arms in a backwards “S” shape.
NGC3893 (+3896) – ARMS! 3893 is bright with a clear arm underneath which seems to exit at 12 o’clock and swing left, down and underneath. Tiny 3896 sits nearby.
NGC3877 – Long flat edge-on with bright core.
😀NGC3726 - ARMS! Bright side-on with circular arms close-in. Averted reveals a second layer of arms outside.
😀NGC3938 – ARMS! A fainter galaxy but faint arms can be seen.
NGC4111 (+4117) – Small edge-on with a bright core. Underneath lies tiny 4117. Just above I see a large faint edge-on (UGC7089) & another (PGC38276) is also faintly seen (separated by a star).
😀NGC4449 – ARMS! This is an interesting one! It seems to have bright patches either side of the core that appear as a “vertical bar”. There is an arm underneath RHS (it seems to exit the lower bar).
NGC4490 (Cocoon) – Vertical bar with curve of partial arm at top. Smaller NGC4485 to the side appears to have tiny “flick” arms.
😀NGC4618 (+4625) – ARMS! 4618 has an arm to RHS. Tiny 4625 nearby surrounded by a tiny circular disk. Both galaxies are quite faint.
M94 – ARMS! Very bright core then surrounding halo then blackness & finally a faint circular disk. Unusual.
M63 (Sunflower) – Bright core with a halo then more of a bar style extension. Blackness on both sides.
😀M51 (+5195) (Whirlpool) – ARMS!!! Core of M51 shows both arms exciting. The inner arm shows a black dust lane within as it comes down and under the core. Arms make it over the bridge then go beyond and curve back into NGC5195 (which has a bar shape core).
😀M101 – ARMS!! As soon as it comes into the FOV, multiple arms are seen in clear view curving over the top of the galaxy. I start to sketch the arms returning for more information at the eyepiece multiple times. I make three iterations of adjustments to the sketch as time passes by…
😀NGC4278 – ARMS! A smallish side-on with time at the eyepiece then arms appear as a spiral. [Looks like this is elliptical so the “arms” must have been the outer fainter halo?]
NGC4314 – Bright core. Horizontal bar and black patches on both sides. No arms seen.
NGC4414 – similar to previous. There is a bright dot in close to the core.
😀NGC4559 – ARMS! Bright core and surrounding dust disk. Multiple arms coming & going with averted.
NGC4565 (Needle) – GREAT. 😀Long sleek edge-on. Bright central bulge. Lovely black dust lane running through. Galaxy gets longer with averted vision.
NGC4494 – Bright core & surrounding disk. Blackness on both sides. No arms.
NGC4631 (Whale) (+4627) – Long thin edge-on. Has bright line detailing on central lower side and a black dart section to RHS. Tiny 4627 sits underneath.
NGC4656 (+4657)(HockeyStick) – Bright core then brighter one side out to a curve (4657). Other side of the core is less bright.
NGC5005 – Bright core. Vertical disk side-on. The disk gives the impression of many tiny curved black lanes running within it.
NGC4244 (Silver Needle) – Long, thin edge-on. Lacks brightness.
NGC4214 – Core with a dust disk. No arms.
Galaxies have slipped beyond the shed, what else can I find?
😀M3 globular – Fantastic! Looks like an “Olympic speed skater”. It is resolved to the core revealing 100s of stars. There are so many fainter stars just outside the brighter core area too.
NGC5466 globular – Faint and widespread with many fewer stars than the “big boys”. I see the shape of “Orion” within it!
😀M13 Globular – Lovely and bright. The propeller is easy to see. The globular is resolved to the core with the central section so very bright and shimmery. Again, there are so many fainter stars around the edges of the bright core section.
😀M5 Globular – Lovely and bright. I don’t get to bag this one often from the shed. It has an intriguing star formation that looks like there are “chains of stars” busy orbiting the centre in wide looping orbits.
M104 Sombrero – Another rare sight from the shed. Its so low that the percentage of mirror on the target must be miniscule! But there it is…
Sh2-73 – I notice some Sharpless coming up in the South. I throw in the Chroma 5nm Ha filter and manage to bag the large circular (egg) shaped patch of sh2-73. The edges are easily traceable.
It is now getting lighter to the East and I decide to call it a night!
Thoughts of the observer.
It was a great start to bag SN 2019np so quickly. I love chasing supernovas so that got me into a great mood to start off! The 210 brightest galaxies should be a nice task for the upcoming galaxy season. I am hitting them with the 55mm Plossl as this gives me the fastest focal ratio for my setup and from my testing last April, is the best way to “see the arms” of galaxies, no matter how small they may be. I counted 13 galaxies showing their arms and I have to be pleased with that. Night Vision does just increase the odds of seeing arms in our favour but its not the silver bullet, the galaxies need to be bright and not too small to increase our chances. It was an added bonus to get into some Globulars. I love the way that the absence makes the heart grow fonder and I never tire of that “first night” explosion of brightness (especially after looking at faint galaxies. I even bagged an additional Sharpless for the icing on the cake. Finally, I was pretty cold when I came in. I am sitting in the study now with my feet on a hot water bottle and wearing a bobble hat on my head. The hot coffee is really hitting the spot too. Here is my Sky Safari Brightest Galaxy observing list should you wish to try it too…(you can import it into your Sky Safari - just email it to yourself then when you try to open the file in the email app it should offer you the chance to "open with Sky Safari") !
Galaxy High Brightness.skylist Clear Skies,