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Meade Lightbridge Observing report as of 14.3.2010


Doc
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Meade lightbridge 16" F4.5 FL 1829mm

14.3.2010

Seeing 4.5

No Moon

I had great expectations for tonight as I've collimated with the video camera and by the tightness of the stars I just knew I was in for a great night. My plan was galaxy hunting in the constellations of Virgo & Coma Berenices.

I started the night in the constellation Canis Major and the open cluster M41. This cluster is located about 4 degrees South of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. M41 contains about 100 stars of varying colors. Several of these stars are red giants, the brightest of which is about 700 times brighter than the Sun. This cluster is about 26 light-years across and is situated approximately 2,300 light-years from Earth. M41's age is estimated at about 190 million years. Through my trusty 28 Uwan I could detect quite a few of these red giants, one especially dominating the view near the centre. I counted at least 50 stars and my thoughts were that this is a wonderful open cluster.

Next was a wonderful small open cluster in Monoceros called Ngc2506. Pretty tight in form with lots of really dim stars I estimate being at least Mag 11. Very pretty with a background glow so may indicate a few more unseen stars.

At this stage I spent sometime observing Mars and experimenting with my multi-aperture mask that I had recently made. I won't go into details but will write a report about it later on in the relevant section.

By now the Virgo/Coma Berenices Cluster was above 30° in altitude so decided to give galaxy hunting a go. With a combination of my Neodymium filter, video collimation and a newly bought blackout blanket to go over my head I was looking forward to this....

Starting in Coma Berenices I started looking for M85, after a while I found a small oval patch which was seen with direct vision, it appeared oval in shape with the core visible. With averted vision a very dim star appeared just to the north of the galaxy. M85 was seen in both the 28 and 16 Uwan's. This galaxy is located some 60 million light-years from Earth and is believed to have a diameter of around 125,000 light-years.

Staying in Coma Berenices I tried to find M98 and M100 which unfortunately I couldn't do. I know I was in the right star field and the combination of my wixey and azimuth circle was really spot on but try as I might I couldn't ease these galaxies out.

M99 next and this turned out to be an easy object to see with averted vision, with the 16 Uwan at x114 inserted I could detect a circular smudge with no core, it lies in a pretty barren part of the sky. M99 shines at mag 9.9 and is 5.3'x4.6' in size, It is located about 60 million light-years from Earth and is receding from us at an unusually high rate of 2324 km/sec. Three supernovae have been observed in this galaxy.

Next was the galaxy M88 also in Coma Berenices, through the 16 Uwan I could detect an oval shape smudge with direct vision but no core was visible, this object was very dim indeed and took a while to ease it out from the background. At mag 9.6 it should have been easier but I seemed to struggle with this one. Located about 60 million light-years from Earth, this galaxy is inclined approximately 30 degrees to our line of sight. This gives it an elongated visual appearance, which resembles that of the Andromeda Galaxy, M31. M88 is believed to be nearly 130,000 light-years in diameter and is receding away from us at about 2000 km/sec.

The next observation was one of the best I've seen and was the galaxies M84 & M86. Both of these were easily visible in the same fov of either the 28 Uwan at 1.26° and the 16 Uwan at 0.72°. I found this duo first in the 28 Uwan and it looked fantastic, I could easily see both cores and I would say M86 definitely looked larger then M84. With the 16 Uwan inserted these two really did come to life. Both galaxies lie about 60 million light years from Earth. According to CduC there is a small galaxy called Ngc 4388 which should lie in the same Fov of the 28 Uwan but try as I might I could not detect this.

Moving into the constellation of Virgo I headed for M87 or Virgo A as it's also known as. This one appeared pretty large in the 16 Uwan and is actually 8.7'x6.6' and shines at mag 8.6. Easily seen with direct vision through both the 28 & 16 Uwans. It looked circular in shape with a slight diffused core. I spotted a bright star just embedded in it's glow on the north side. It is located about 60 million light-years from Earth and has a diameter of around 120,000 light-years. M87 lies within the heart of the Virgo cluster.

Dropping a little further South M90 becomes visible, a little less pronounced and seen with averted vision but the shape looked elongated and the core was just about visible. According to CduC M90 is 9.9' x4.4' and shines at mag 9.5.

Next was the elliptical galaxy M89 once again was seen with averted vision first but then after a while seen with direct vision. Almost circular in formation with a very large diffuse core. Once again it lies approximately 60 million light years away and is pretty small at 5.3' x4.4' and shines at mag 9.8.

Next I moved further down and saw M58, M59, and M60, all were visible in the 28 Uwan with direct vision but were extremely dim in nature. With the 16 Uwan inserted the dim cores became visible. Not much difference between these three galaxies, but I was very pleased to be able to spot them. All galaxies lie about 60 million light years away and are between 90,000 and 120,000 light years in diameter.

One of last Messiers was M49, this is one pretty large galaxy extending to 9.2' x 8.4' in size and 8.4 mag in brightness. This was easily seen with the 28 Uwan with direct vision. Through the 16 Uwan the circular shape was well defined and even the core was seen as a diffuse elongated mark. This galaxy is huge at 160,000 light years accross.

Just to the right of M49 is another splendid galaxy Ngc 4365 through the 16 Uwan it was visible with direct vision and core appeared very dim.

Back up to Coma Berenices and the galaxy Ngc4725 this one was only really seen with averted vision but once I got used to it, I could detect an elongated shape with a mottled core, looked very pretty in the 16 Uwan.

Last one of the night was Ngc 4565 which was one of the best views of the night, in the 16 Uwan it looked like a narrow sliver of light, very cigar shape and at 15' x 2' and at mag 9.6 was a wonderful sight.

All in a great night and normally I struggle with galaxies but with a combination of video collimation, a blackout blanket and a Neodymium filter I think I had a great night.

I can tick off 14 Messiers, 2 caldwell, and 4 Herschel objects.

Also managed a few sketches so will post them when I can.

Edited by Doc
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Again a very informative report Doc ;).

I had no chance to go out for 2 weeks in a row.. I am also intending to give a boost of my "Messiers seen" list as Virgo comes up :).

clear skies,

Janos

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Doc...

I am so pleased you enjoyed your galaxy hunting. That 4565 is so special edge on...

Try M95/6/105 etc in Leo as well when you are out again as they make a fine spectacle...

Mark

Cheers Mark. I've already seen M95,96 & 105 they look really great. Any more doubles or triples in the same fov?

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Excellent report Mick, as always. I was out myself but cloud defeated me and I came in at midnight, only managed confirmed sightings of M65,66. I gave up my cloud battle trying to find M95, 96. I think I got them but the star field didn't agree with stellarium so I need to try that again.

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Brilliant report as always Mick.

Glad you managed to get in amongst the galaxies last night. I was over in that part of the sky too for a while. M64 Black Eye galaxy was my target. It was a wow moment. First time I have seen the dust lane with direct vision.

I remember NGC 4565 when I had a 6" scope in the darkness of Wales. It was amazing then. Really must get over to it with this scope now ;)

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I really enjoyed that report, feel that I've picked up some very useful information and learning more about the objects I observe makes them even more special!

One question, you mentioned using a combination of a wixey and an azimuth circle to determine when you were in the correct area, but what exactly is an azimuth circle? I have a wixey on order but figured I would need to move the scope in azimuth until I spotted my target. If there as a similar device that works in azimuth that would be brilliant!

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I really enjoyed that report, feel that I've picked up some very useful information and learning more about the objects I observe makes them even more special!

One question, you mentioned using a combination of a wixey and an azimuth circle to determine when you were in the correct area, but what exactly is an azimuth circle? I have a wixey on order but figured I would need to move the scope in azimuth until I spotted my target. If there as a similar device that works in azimuth that would be brilliant!

Take a look here:

http://stargazerslounge.com/diy-astronomer/79817-my-dob-degree-circle-modification.html

If you use both of these devices together you will get the object within the FOV of a wide eyepiece as long as your scope is levelled.

Edited by Doc
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I think you have bagged all the messier doubles...You do not mention M104 which is a bit lower down but is just special in terms of its shape..Bright as well..

Plus NGC 3115 is Sextans is up now but under Leo. Its small but very bright for a non messier target...Go for high power and try it...

Mark

Mark

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