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Old 30-03-2011, 08:28 PM
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Suzy
Searching for Travolta...

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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Brisbane, Australia.
Posts: 3,687
My Night With Centaurus (and a fling with Crux).

MY NIGHT WITH CENTAURUS (AND A FLING WITH CRUX)




Date: March 2011.
Equipment: 10" dob.
Eye Pieces: Vixen LVW 22mm, Pentax XW10mm, Meade Series 5000 6.7mm UWA





THE LEGEND OF CENTAURUS
(Exerpt from "A Walk Through The Southern Sky", by Milton D. Heifetz)

Among the people of the Andes mountains in South America those who breed Llamas believe good fortune will be theirs
if during the birthing season of the Llamas (November), the eyes of the celestial Llama appears over the southeastern horizon. The eyes of the celestial Llama are Hadar and Rigil Kentaurus of Centaurus.
Among the Greeks, centaurs ere mythical creatures, half horse half man. Most centaurs were considered to be savage. There was one exception, the son of Kronus and Philyra. When Kronus, who was married to Rhea, was discovered making love to Philyra, the beautiful sea numph, he turned himself and Philrya into horses. When Philyra gave birth her child was half horse, half man, a centaur. Philyra was so distressed that she changed her form into a linden tree. Her son was named Chiron. Chiron grew up to be the wisest and gentlest of the centaurs. He lived at the foot of Mt Pelion and established the finest school in Greece. Chiron learned the art of medicine from Artemis the Huntress and the science of astronomy and music from Diana. Jason, Achilles, Hercules, Hylas the Fair, Pollux, Castor and Orpheus all spent part of their childhood studying under Chiron. He was asked to teach Apollo’s son Aesculapius the art of healing.
Chiron died as a result of a strange accident. He had taught Hercules how to overcome and capture the wild boar. At the celebration of this deed and during an archery exhibition in which Chiron also participated, a poisoned arrow shot by Hercules accidently struck Chiron in the knee. The pain would not end and was so intense that Hercules begged the god Zeus to grant Chiron's wish to die. After his death Zeus honoured him by placing him in the sky where he remains as a symbol of wisdom, goodness and kindness.





NGC 5128/CENTAURUS A - GALAXY.
Finally after 12 months of searching, I found the Centaurus A galaxy. At 120x and 60 deg. up, it was small, yet bright. I couldn't make out the central dark bar– only the bright halo glow. Next time I will need to use higher magnification. It beautifully rests on 3 large stars. A close pair of stars is noted above left of the object which I used to help line up this object. I've tried several star hops in the past and failed, but this time I was successful using Zeta Centauri as my launch pad, heading straight up and once I arrived on the same line as Omega Centauri, I measured and proceeded 4 deg further up. Interestingly enough, I was recently able to get this object in my 10x60 binos (albeit extremely faint) on a particularly good night of seeing.


NGC 5139/OMEGA CENTAURI - GC
At 170x mag. It fills up the entire field of view of an 82 deg eye piece. Amongst the numerous dark lanes which can easily be seen, lay countless stars resembling numerous necklace strands shining with a dim soft glow. I rarely do a session without having a peek at this incredible object. We are so lucky to have the largest and brightest globular cluster in our skies.


NGC 3766/PEARL CLUSTER - OC
One of my favourites, at 120x mag. shows such a beautiful cluster- bright and compact with two gorgeous yellow stars sitting on either side of the cluster. This object actually carries a bit of sentiment for me as it was the first object I’d ever seen through a telescope- my old 6" dob, and came by it at the time quite by accident, not knowing what I had found as it was my first session. I thought it was a globular cluster until I investigated further.


IC 2944/LAMBDA CENTAURI NEBULA (RUNNING CHICKEN)
120x didn't reveal too much to see on this night. On a very good night of seeing I could make it out quite bright in binoculars, but tonight it showed up to be a very dim object. A halo of stars seemed to encircle the nebula.


ALPHA CENTAURI
Split A and B using 120x. The pair sits, side by side with no room to spare - much like getting two balls and holding them together. I much prefer this view using this power than at 240x which splits them further apart.





AND A FLING WITH CRUX .....



CARBON STAR - RUBY CRUCIS - CRUX
This red giant star displays a beautifully sharp, blood red dot against the dark black sky. The contrast between sky and this star is truly breathtaking. This is one of the reddest carbon stars out there.


NGC 4349 - OC IN CRUX
Les D's latest binocular target in this month’s "Aust. Sky & Telescope" magazine. Though I cheated - used a telescope! A large and loose cluster, however, using 120x power I really couldn't make out the true defining shape of this cluster as it was so highly magnified. My observing night was coming to an end and I just wasn't up to changing eye pieces, so will re-visit on my next session.


NGC 4755 - OC IN CRUX
How could I end the night visiting Crux without taking what must be my zillionth view of this next show stopper- The Jewel Box - and very aptly named at that. My (materialist!) eyes see a diagonal chain of three evenly spaced gems of topaz, aquamarine and diamond amongst a bed of Shiny, bright, sparkling little diamonds. Oh to have a basket full of that in my drawer.



ALSO, A QUICKIE ON THE SIDE .....


A quick fling with NGC 3772 (Eta Carina Nebula). I was surprised to find that within my light polluted location, I could actually see this star naked eye - very faint - but very much there!
Gamma Vela: A revisit on this using 120x. Magnificent double star with the brighter star being the hottest known example of a Wolf-Ryatt star. The huge, thick diffraction spikes coming off this very large and bright star just screams "hot hot hot".

Last edited by Suzy; 31-03-2011 at 12:34 AM. Reason: Forgot to list observing equipment.
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