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Old 10-03-2008, 09:32 PM
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goober (Doug)
No obs, raising Harrison

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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 793
Observing near Snake Valley: 9 March 2008

Observation Report: 9 March 2008

Location: Smythdale
Time: 9:30pm - 1am
Seeing: Pickering 5
Transparency: ~ magnitude 5.5

After the hide and seek session with the clouds the night before at Snake Valley, today was much clearer, with temperatures around 36C for most of the day. My wife and I were out hiking around Linton and Ballarat for most of the day, and ended up with thumping headaches when we got back around 4pm.

I popped the painkillers and hit the sack for a couple of hours to try and get fit for Snake Valley, night two. Feeling lousy, I packed the scope in the car and headed off for the campsite, but only got half way. Just felt too sick, turned back, popped more painkillers, and went to sleep.

Got up at 9pm and felt a bit better, although still pretty seedy. Went out onto the veranda and saw the skies had cleared. Rather than try to get back to the Astro Camp, I set up on the lawn next to the cottage and observed from there.

Centaurus A - galaxy in Centaurus. Still quite low, but an excellent view. Bright, although the lane wasn't obvious. I revisited the object three hours later when it was near the zenith, and was blown away by the view. Two obvious halves, with the lane apparent with direct vision. With averted vision I could glimpse photo like detail. Very pleased with the view with my scope.

NGC 4945 - galaxy in Centaurus. Saw this the previous night but wasn't sure what detail I was seeing as I played with the cloud cover. This is a large, bright object, around 25' long and very pleasing in the scope. There is definite brightening in the centre.

NGC 4976 - galaxy in Centaurus. Right next to 4945 above. Dim, slightly elliptical. Looks stellar with direct vision, lengthens with averted vision.

NGC 5102 - galaxy in Centaurus. This galaxy is right on top of Iota Centaurii. Very easy to see in the glare of nearby Iota. A small galaxy, bright core, appears to extend E/W with averted vision. About 6' long(?).

NGC 5286 - globular cluster near M Centaurii. Observed this several times in the past with dobs. A bright cluster ~ 10' from M Centaurii. 3 stars resolved off the NE edge at 108x.

NGC 1977 - nebula in Orion. I thought I spotted dark rifts in this nebula the previous night with Phil's 26mm Nagler. Tonight I tried with my 24mm Panoptic and saw the same features. Dark lanes or folds in the clouds, which I assume is what becomes the "running man" feature in photographs of this regions.

M44 - open cluster in Cancer. I could see a strange, misty cloud to the north that I'd never seen from Melbourne. I couldn't recognise what it was, and figured it had to be some passing cloud, except it wasn't moving. Mrs. Goober had joined me outside at this stage so we swung the scope over and I realised that it was M44. It really is quite an eerie naked eye sight. Large cluster full of bright members.

M67 - open cluster in Cancer. Mrs. Goober and I then viewed M67. So easy to bag these from dark skies with the Pocket Sky Atlas. You can virtually see every star plotted with the naked eye - position the scope and boom! You've got it. Nice, rounded cluster with around 20 stars resolved at low power, and one orange member very evident. Mrs. Goober said it resembled Pacman, and I could see it once she'd said it. A concave shape to the cluster, as if it's gobbling stars ahead of it.

I then showed my wife the objects I'd already viewed - 5286, 4945, 5102 (she saw all of these easily). We did a quick flip through the Small Magellanic Cloud at 23x, and took in 47 Tucanae and NGC 362 as well.

Mrs. Goober went back inside, which tripped the outdoor sensor lights. My dark adaption!

When I adapted again, I could see Leo through the trees...

M95 - galaxy in Leo. Couldn't pull a lot from this object, flattened disk, dimmer than it's companion M96.

M96 - galaxy in Leo. Easily into the same field as M96 - large, bright core, didn't appear to be symmetrical, slightly elongated shape.

M105 - galaxy in Leo. This appeared to be a large hazy blob, but a bright blob! No detail, no elongation. Very close to M95/M96.

NGC 3384 - galaxy in Leo. Right next to M105, and almost a twin. A fairly bright, circular glow. Just not quite as bright as M105.

M65 - galaxy in Leo. A nice, easy to spot, slash of light. Bright core, obvious elongation.

M66 - galaxy in Leo. Brighter than M65 to me, with a star superimposed on it. Nearly identical elongation and orientation to M65.

NGC 3628 - galaxy in Leo. Very close to M65/M66. Large, dimmer galaxy, almost rectangular in shape, long and not very tall. Orientation at right angles to other two galaxies. Very easy to see.

NGC 3521 - galaxy in Leo. I read about this in O'Meara's Hidden Treasures a few weeks ago. Buried deep below Leo's hind leg near Sextans. Easy to bag near 69 Leonis, which was naked eye. Wow, beautiful galaxy. Bright, sitting in the middle of a chain of 5 magnitude 6-8 stars. Elongated core, and I fancy I could pull detail out of it. How did Messier miss this?

Leo I - dwarf galaxy in Leo. Sue French said this was possible in a 4", by placing Regulus out of the FOV and staring intently. I tried it, and had it on the exact spot plotted via my MSA nearby. I couldn't see it, and frankly would have been amazed and delighted if I had.

NGC 3242 - planetary nebula in Hydra. Easy to find near Mu. A large, blue planetary at 49x. Took power well, but didn't give me a lot of detail - perhaps some unevenness across the face of it. I went all the way up to 270x to try and pull out the central star, but couldn't. The Ghost of Jupiter, if Jupiter was blue!

NGC 3115 - galaxy in Sextans. Great! Beautiful elongated galaxy, bright extended core. Fainter extensions to the N/S. Very good at 49x and 77x.

NGC 4038/4039 - interacting galaxies in Corvus. Been curious about this one, and what it would look like in a 4" scope. Basically, not much. An obvious but dim smudge of light between two faint stars. It looked slightly lopsided, but that's it.

Pencil Nebula - nebula remnant in Vela. O'Meara threw down the challenge in the latest Astronomy magazine to bag the Pencil in a small scope. With Vela at the zenith, I gave it a try. Put c Velorum in the finder, and navigate a truly confusing star-hop to a quadrangle of stars - confirm I'm there in MSA - yep. Stare intently for 10 minutes before giving up. No Pencil Nebula for me.

M104 - galaxy in Virgo. The Sombrero was viewed twice - early on and three hours later much higher in the sky. The later view was stunning, although not as stunning as I thought it may be. I always anticipate it will be larger, for some reason. Still, nice elongated E/W galaxy with hints of the lane appearing. It seemed clearer at 77x.

M68 - globular cluster in Hydra. Just off the constellation of Corvus. Bright cluster, resolved around 10 stars. A lumpy, triangular core with a dark lane across it (although I could only see the lane fleetingly - couldn't hold it - imagination?).

M83 - galaxy in Hydra. This object blew me away. A beautiful bright nucleus surrounded by a halo of milky white light. Initially circular, further study showed some flattening on the southern edge. Around 15' across. Seemed to be best at 49x, but also excellent at 77x. Fabulous galaxy.

Last edited by goober; 11-03-2008 at 03:24 PM. Reason: typos
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