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Obs Report, Horsehead sketch 30/12/10

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Well I managed to pull a rare observing session out of my hat just as the year was drawing to a close. After a record cloudy year, it was kind of ironic to get a clear night. The plan was to hunt some galaxies, then turn my attention to some morning planetaries in Carina. However, the seeing was an absolute basket case, but still had a successful night with a few nice galaxies under the belt. My plan to observe the managerie of tiny, bright high surface brightness planetaries in Carina was a bust though. Used the 12" dob for this session.

Scope: 12" F/4.4 dob

Time: 10:30pm-2:30am

Seeing: 3/10

Transparency: 4/5

Dew: very light

Temp: 14°C

First port of call was NGC 1587/88/89 in Taurus. This is a lovely trio of galaxies with 1587/88 forming a nice tight pair, with NGC 1589 12' due north. All 3 were nicely framed in the 13mm lvw at 102x.

NGC 1587

GX, Taurus, RA 04 30 40, Dec +00 39 42, Size= 2x1.9' , Mag V = 12.8

NGC 1588

GX, Taurus, RA 04 30 43, Dec +00 39 53, Size= 1.8x1.0' , Mag V = 12.9

NGC 1589

GX, Taurus, RA 04 30 45, Dec +00 51 49, Size= 3.1x1.2' , Mag V = 12.8

Fairly bright at 167x, with a high surface brightness and a tight, dense core. Round. Increasing mag to 267x the core appeared nearly stellar and the galaxy slightly elongated NE/SW. Forms a pair with NGC 1588 1' E.

NGC 1588 is fainter than 57, featureless with a nearly stellar core at 167x but at 267x a slight condensation toward the core was seen.

NGC 1589 is located 12' N of the pair, with a Mag 13 star 50" ENE of the core and a fainter 14.5 mag star about 1' SW. Stellaring in core, elongated with faint extensions at 167x.


UGC 3214

GX, Orion, RA 04 57 56, Dec -00 07 33, Size= 4x0.6' , Mag B = 14.0

A very nice needle-like edge on spiral in DSS photos, so was keen to track this one down. Faint, but picked up fairly easily at 167x, basically appeared as a stubby spindle aligned NE/SW. Upping the power to 267x suggested a mild concentration around the core. A pair of 10th mag stars roughly 7' ENE and 5' W, and a triangle of faint 14-15th mag stars 1.5' NW of the core make the galaxy easy to locate.



GX, Eridanus, RA 04 36 30, Dec -02 52 00 , Size= 0.5x0.2' , mag B = 14.2


GX, Eridanus, RA 04 36 19, Dec -02 49 55 , Size= 0.6x0.3' , Mag B = 13.7

These two are the brightest of a group of 4 galaxies. The group is easy to find only 40' N of 4th Nu Eridani. Both objects were picked up with the 8mm LVW at 167x, with -54 being the easier of the two despite its smaller size and lower magnitude. -54 has High surface brightness and slightly brightens toward the core. Slight NE/SW elongation evident at 267x. Easy to find located about 1.2' due north of a mag 12.4 star.

-51 is a face on barred spiral and has lower surface brightness than -54 and as such appeared fainter than its neighbour. Basically visible as a faint, nondescript smuch. A mag 11 star lies just 40" SE of galaxy.

The other two members of this group are far too faint to see.


Next stop is a fantastic group of four galaxies with NGC 1721/1725/1728 forming a lovely tight trio with 4th member NGC 1723 located 10' N. This group is conveniently located in a fairly populated starfield with abundant reference stars, including mag 5.4 63 Eridani located only 1' N, which makes a good starting point for your starhop.

NGC 1721

GX, Eridanus, RA 04 59 17 , Dec -11 07 08, Size= 2.2x1.1' , Mag V = 12.8

NGC 1725

GX, Eridanus, RA 04 59 23, Dec -11 07 57, Size= 1.9x1.2' , Mag V = 12.8

NGC 1728

GX, Eridanus, RA 04 59 28, Dec -11 07 26, Size= 2x0.7' , Mag V = 12.9

NGC 1723

GX, Eridanus, RA 04 59 26, Dec -10 58 52, Size= 3.7x2.3' , Mag V = 11.7

The 5mm LVW at 267x ecompasses the trio of NGC 1721/25/28. A triangle of mag 12-12.5 stars nicely frames the group, making it easy to find. NGC 1728 is the brightest of the three, and appeared strongly elongated N/S with a high surface brightness.

NGC 1721 is the second brightest of the three, with a small, tight core and a NW/SE elongation. A mag ~14.5 star lies 50" NE of the core.

NGC 1725 lies midway between 1728 and 1721 and has lower surface brightness than the other two in the eyepiece, with a less condesned core.

NGC 1723 showed a tight round core with no other structure seen. Two mag 10 stars lie 2' N and 3' E with a 3rd 11th mag star 1.2' to the south. A mag 15 star was seen just outside the northern edge of the halo.


NGC 2346

Monoceros, RA 07 09 22, Dec -00 48 24, Size= 60x50" , Mag V = 11.6

DSS images show a wonderful butterfly-shaped planetary, but this figure was not evident at the eyepiece. At 167x is appears as an oval haze around its 11th mag central star, orientated E-W. The view is reminiscent of what a star looks like thru a fogged over eyepiece. An OIII filter increases the definition of the oval haze. Increasing magnification to 267x brings no real improvement. When viewing this object, I couldn't help but replay the phrase "this is nothing like in the brochure" over and over in my head tongue05.gif

NGC 2442

GX, Volans, RA 07 36 23, Dec -69 31 52, Size= 6x5.5' , Mag V = 10.5

Just as I was preparing to pack up, the sight of Carina high overhead prompted me to have a look at the so-called "Meathook" galaxy. One of the brighter barred spirals, I was keen to see if I could see any detail. At 167x, It presented a tiny, stellar nucleaus amongst a low surface brightness haze, however I could see hints of a bar extending in a NE/SW direction. That already makes the meathook more "impressive" than NGC 1365 from my location!

ESO 059-G011

GX, Volans, RA 07 38 12, Dec -69 28 27, Size= 1.9x1.1' , Mag B = 13.5

This galaxy is located only 10' NE of NGC 2442. Appearing small, elongated NW/SE with a starlike nucleaus at 167x. A 14th mag star 35" to the SW forms a "double" with the nucleus. However, upon inspection at higher power, this supposed "nucleus" turned out to be a 15th mag star superimposed right on the SW edge of the galaxy, not more than 15" from the centre. The galaxy increases very slightly in brightness towards the core.

NGC 2434

GX, Volans, RA 07 34 51, Dec -69 17 06, Size= 1.6x1.5', Mag V = 11.5

This is a lovely bright elliptical located only 17' NNW of the meathook NGC 2442. Nicely compact, round with high surface brightness at 167x and a near-stellar nucleus. 267x revealed a bright, tight core with a fainter halo. The galaxy is set in a nice field on the edge of an iscoceles triangle bounded by a mag 11 and 12 star to the north and a mag 11.5 star to the SSE. A 4th mag 11.5 star lies only 2' NNW of the galaxy. This galaxy has a much higher surface brightness than NGC 2442, and consequently much easier to pick up and makes a nice target for small scopes set in its nice starfield.


IC 434/ B33 Horsehead Nebula

The main objective for the evening was to finally attempt the Horsehead Neb. To gauge visibility, I first turned to the Flame Neb, which was quite easy, so the horsehead is in with a shot. Well, with the 17mm LVW (102x) and the H-beta filter in place, I'm glad to say I did see it! IC 434 was almost immediately picked up as a ghostly ribbon of mist. I could even see a slightly brighter strip of light in IC 434's southern end, just south of the Horsehead. The HH itself was just barely there, visible as a dark bay. The distinctive shape obviously was nowhere to be seen, but it was a thrill to actually see this thing from my backyard!

It's neighbouring reflection nebula NGC 2023 was plainly visible surrounding its 8th magnitude star.

below is a sketch of the horsehead:


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That is an exceptional observing report. I was looking at images of your targets whilst following the descriptions. I think ngc2442 may be an imaging target for me tonight, weather permitting.

Damn not visible this far north...must check locations first!

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Nice report.

Everyone seems to have had clear skies last night exept me. :)

Didn't clear till 5 this morning.


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I need a big dob!!! And move to Australia!! Sounds like you had a great night, thanks for sharing...

T x

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Great report. Your sketch is very similar to what i saw in December with the 16LB and UHC filter when the nebula was still quite low in the sky. Needless to say, my Lumicon H-Beta was ordered soon afterwards and will ship on 27 Jan. :)

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As someone else said, that's an exceptional observing report and a great sketch of the Horsehead. And a great haul of galaxies observed.

Sorry to hear your weather and seeing was as bad as ours last year. The last quarter of 2010 was as bad as i can ever remember.

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