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Tonight's galaxy target list...go on join me.

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Looking clear so I have been preparing my galaxy target list. I have been doing this for a while so these galaxies are typically mag 13/14 with a relatively high surface brightness in the plough.

They have been selected using the skytools software. I have preflagged those galaxies that look possible with my 20 inch dob in mag 5 skies. Normally I have a 90% success rate with this method.

I pick those to the N to NE which is darker for me as this is towards the Cotswolds.

I have printed off charts to aid with star hoping. I use a RACI finder, then a 16mm eyepiece to locate the field and then a 10mm eyepiece to spot the galaxy. I might get through 7/8 galaxies in a session.

So the list:


For the finale I will try the NGC3561/ARP105/NGC3554/NGC3552/NGC3550 group to see how many I can pick out.



aCchJvI5jCK1_1824x0_sWXLOnwG.thumb.jpg.d86726063f153aa61b792a5ad4e23480.jpgNow I just need the sky to stay clear.

If you fancy observing any of these tonight we can compare notes.


Edited by mdstuart
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Do you think it's going to be clear Mark ?

The forecast is OK but there seems currently to be quite a lot of large chunks of cloud around.


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4 hours ago, mdstuart said:


I saw NGC2805 back in January. Very tough low surface brightness object according to my notes.


very low surface brightness mark as you say. good spot though. another one of the list

hows tonight going ?

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I don't know how it is for you tonight Mark but I'm finding the transparency none to good here.

Even the easy galaxies are looking far from their best with my 12 inch dob. I've concentrated on other, brighter targets tonight because of this. The seeing is quite steady though.

Hope you have it better for galaxies in Thornbury !


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Just in after a good session. A lovely clear sky but becoming less transparent with time as John has just posted. I will report back tomorrow.


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Tonight I saw the black eye galaxy and the needle galaxy for the first time. The needle galaxy was actually very difficult to make out, seemed to drift in and out of view. Not sure if its always like that or as you say the transparency isn't good?


Either way, pleased with my nights observing. Although it was shorter than I hoped for because the cold got to me. Now sat up against the radiator waiting to get feeling back in my toes 😆

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I have the Arp Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, an excellent interesting book, and your post gave me a bit of a spur to try your suggestions but the transparency was not good.  I can normally see the 'eyes' of the Owl Nebula ( M97 ) from my location, Bortle 4 , but this time I could not , even with averted vision, and M108 was dimmer than normal.  The seeing was very good, but I failed to split Sirius with the 12". 

Edited by Saganite
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Well done Hutch star or finding that black eye galaxy, I always find it hard to hop too. The needle galaxy is much fainter but a lovely sight with that star next to its central core.

Saganite - I have that book as well and used it last night to try to spot ARP105 but failed - see below.


So I set up which took about 15mins, put on lots of layers of clothing and was out by 8.30pm. Looked clear, a bit murky to the SW. Just a check for the cirrus ahead of the atlantic fronts but nothing evident so we proceed.

The first object can be harder as my eyes have not yet adjusted but NGC 3517 was not too hard to pick out with averted vision. Discovered in 1793 by William Hershel...yes 1793 is that not amazing to think about..this is a face on spiral about 350 million light years away so a long way out! Very pleased with that. m13.8 in the blue spectrum and a surface brightness of 22.4. A later check indicated I had seen a mag 15.0 star so the skies are transparent at the moment. No I could not see the companion in this image!


Ten minutes later I am on NGC 3530. This was brighter, I can see it in my 16mm eyepiece! Turns out this is a lot closer at 80 million light years and is one of the group of 133 galaxies including M51/M106 etc.


Next was UGC 6534. Very different again. Low surface brightness slither that was pretty tough to see. The skies are not quite as good now with a limiting magnitude at the eyepiece of 14.5.


On to NGC 4081.....wow a fine double star next to the galaxy, Nick you need to look at this. Two white stars sharp as full stops showing a steady sky. The galaxy is part of the same group as NGC 3530 seen earlier and Dreyer notes the double nearby so I am discovering a fine sight seen back in the day as my son would say.



NGC 3648 is next, its now 9.25pm. This was almost stellar to me and visible with direct vision. The image below is very different to what I saw as it shows the halo. I think I only saw the core. Dreyer says perhaps a double star...yes I can see why he wrote that.  The galaxy is part of a group of four apparently including NGC 3665 / NGC 3658 and NGC 3652 all of which I saw with my trusty old 10 inch dob many years back so now I have the set :)


On to NGC 3694. Another one visible with direct vision tonight. Looking at the image I am only seeing the centre of this galaxy about 100 million light years away and it is in starburst mode which may explain how bright it is. The galaxy sits in a very isolated star field which makes it harder to locate. Again this one is part of a small group including NGC 3755/NGC 3813, Markarian 1301 and UGC 6526. I have only seen NGC 3813 so perhaps some of those might be in my next list.


And then at 10.30 we move on to the final challenge, the NGC 3561 group.  Looking at the field with direct vision it looks like a bland field with a few stars. But with averted vision, wobbling the view and effort the galaxies start to appear. NGC 3550 was the easiest to pick out near two stars. It still needed averted vision though to spot. The other three I saw were VERY hard to see. NGC 3552 was just possible. Later I put in my 4.7mm eyepiece which makes the stars less sharp but can pull out slight more in fields like this and sure enough next to NGC 3552 was something else. Turns out it was a mag 15.2 star. I could not see the galaxy next to the star in the image!


NGC 3554 was also very tough. It does have a surface brightness of 21.0 which is why I could see it I think even though its blue mag is 15.2! The only other galaxy I could see just with averted vision was NGC 3558. I tried and tried with NGC 3561/ARP 105 but just could not see it. Based on its stats I should be able but maybe the skies were turning against me. I will try again maybe when it is higher in the sky or at a dark site. So although the field contained four galaxies I could only see any one at once so nothing like the photo in my earlier post but still pleasing to pick up four of this group of galaxies about 450 million light years away.

Took the telescope down with cold fingers. One of the truss connectors had come away, maybe the cold had caused this, more epoxy glue will fix it...

So all in all one of my most successful sessions, still loving the new dob set up. Thanks Callum for the scope :) still making the most of the mirrors!

Clear skies



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Great report Mark !

I think my mistake last night was to concentrate on things other than galaxies initially, waiting for Leo and Ursa Major to rise to a more favourable altitude. By the time that had happened, my transparency was getting worse so even simple stuff like M51 was far from it's best :rolleyes2:

Glad you got some good results :icon_biggrin:


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