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Meade Lightbridge Observing report as of 4.8.2010


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Meade Lightbridge 16" F4.5 FL1829mm

No moon


Seeing was mag 4.2

Starting of in Cassiopeia I went hunting for my last remaining open cluster in the Herschel catalogue and that is Ngc136, this turned out to be quite a challange to isolate it from the amount of stars in view at only 1.2' in size it was hard but I think I found it, I was definitely in the right place.

Up to the mighty M52 next, this cluster looked amazing in the 28 Uwan, a very rich star cluster, with so many stars resolved and few around the edges that were just on the limit of vision. This object has been described as a "salt and pepper" cluster due to its dense arrangement of about 200 bright stars. M52 is believed to be only 23 million years old. Its distance from Earth is not certain. Estimates range anywhere from 3,000 to 7,000 light-years.

Next I went hunting for a very elusive planetary nebula Abell 2 also known as PK122- 4.1 residing not far from Alpha Cassiopeia I found the exact spot where it was after star hopping using CduC. At only 0.6' in diameter and with a Sbr of mag 13.4 it was a challenge. Using my 28 Uwan I could detect nothing, the 16 Uwan I also saw nothing, but the combination of the 16 Uwan and the Baader O111 I may have caught a very quick glimpse but I'm uncertain. I then moved the object I thought I saw to the outer edges of the FOV, refocused to get rid of the slight coma and after a while I could detect a very very faint circular patch of light, which appeared just on the limit of seeing, I could not hold this averted vision for longer then a second, but it was defintely there.

Dropping a little down towards Perseus I tracked down another little planetary called IC289. Still residing in Cassiopeia, IC289 is just 0.8'x0.5' in size and has a Sbr of mag 12.3. Compared to Abell 2 this was quite easy, once again star hopped to the position, and inserted my 16 Uwan at x114 and I could see this very slightly with direct vision, it appeared very small, I expected an oblong shape, but it appeared circular. With the O111 filter inserted It appeared slightly brighter but for some strange reason, better with averted vision. No structure or central star was detected. I took the time to make a quick sketch of IC289. See sketch here: http://stargazerslounge.com/imaging-sketches-unconventional/110108-ic289.html#post1491177

Also In Cassiopeia was another planetary nebula called BV3 or PK 131-5.1 once again a very dim and small nebula about 0.5' in diameter with a Sbr of mag13. Once again easy to star hop to it's position but incredibly hard to spot, might have caught a glimpse with averted vision using the 7 Uwan and O111 filter giving me x261. I only saw this once and it was for a split second, I tried to find it again but failed, so cannot not count this.

After a quick look at the fantastic M31 and it's companion galaxies I went looking for Ngc185 a dwarf ellipticl galaxy in Cassiopeia, at 12.5'x10.4' is pretty large and shines at mag 9.2. I found it pretty easy using the 16 Uwan , but it looked brighter placed just to one side in the FOV. I could detect the oblong shape but no structure appeared nor did a central core.

Very close to Ngc185 is another dwarf eliptical Ngc147 this one was very hard to spot but after 20 minutes of trying to find the correct star field I stumbled upon it. This one is even harder to see with averted vision, it's surface brightness is very low indeed at mag 14.5, I'm ticking this one off, but it's borderline, I will revisit this galaxy at Kelling to see how much a darker sky affects it.

I then went over to Cygnus before I lost it behind the trees, I had heard of a strange nebula called by numerous names. Known as PK80-6.1, CRL2688, IVZW67, UGC11688 or by the name the Egg Nebula, whatever the name it's small at 0.4'x0.3' and has an undisclosed Sbr. I managed to star hop to the exact location and I did see a double star like shape but could not distinguish it as a planetary, even the O111 filter made no difference, after a while I admitted defeat and moved on to my next target.

This was Ngc7331 a lovely galaxy in Pegasus, very easy to see despite it's Sbr of just 13.3, it's pretty large at 10.2'x4.2 and through the 28 Uwan I could see the shape and elegence this galaxy has. With the 16 Uwan inserted it's two companion galaxies appear they are Ngc7335 and Ngc7340, and with averted vision it also showed a stellar nucleus, I took the time to sketch this galaxy, which turned out to be a race as I could see the clouds starting to form and roll accross the sky. See sketch here: http://stargazerslounge.com/imaging-sketches-unconventional/110107-ngc7331-companions.html#post1491174

Once done I made sure what I saw on the CduC was exactly the same as what I was seeing through the eyepiece and went hunting for Stephen's Quintet, unfortunately this hunt was short lived as the clouds rolled in and spoilt my fun.

Edited by Doc
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Wow!! A superb night there Mick. Really like the descriptions you have given of your search for the gaggle of faint planetaries you went after. I find it a totally absorbing experience trying to detect some of these objects that are at the limit of visibility. I've not heard of the planetaries you went after, but they are sure on my list now :)

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A great report as usual Mick. I started to find NGC 185 and NGC147 (Caldwell 17 and 18) last night before the clouds rolled in and stopped the observing before I located either. From your report I might have problems viewing NGC147 with my 10" scope.

Hope to visit Salisbury on Saturday week so we might meet up again.


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