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Old 20-10-2011, 12:46 PM
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Rob_K is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Bright, Vic, Australia
Posts: 2,125
Barnard’s Galaxy and more, 19 Oct 2011

Last night was our club observing night at Porepunkah airstrip, NE Vic, and we were greeted with great skies, though not perfect as I suspect there’s still a fair bit of moisture in the air.

Time: 9pm-11pm, Wed 19 Oct 2011 (UT+11)
Location: Porepunkah airstrip, Porepunkah, Vic
Telescope: Tasco 4.5" f8 reflector on Alt-Az mount
EP: 21mm Celestron X-Cel (43x)
Transparency: Good
Seeing: Fair

NGC 6822 (Barnard’s Galaxy) in Sagittarius: I’ve observed this dwarf galaxy once before and found the key to finding it was locating a small kite-shaped asterism at its southern end. However, this time I saw the galaxy first and that enabled me to find the asterism! The galaxy appeared large, almond-shaped, and very diffuse and faint, not all that different to similar mottled glow in the surrounding field. It appeared about 15’ long and 9’ or 10’ wide, and a little brighter towards its southern end. Averted vision helped in providing the contrast that made it stand out from the field. One of the other observers had a look and was just able to make out the galaxy, very faintly. We then got one of the ‘cannons’ onto the job (10" dob) at similar power and the galaxy was quite obvious although still very faint. The length visible was about the same as in the 4.5" but the shape appeared a little more rounded (perhaps 11’ or 12’ wide), and not surprisingly, smoother than in the little scope.

NGC 6818, mag 9.9 planetary nebula in Sagittarius: Had a look while in the vicinity of Barnard’s Galaxy. Like all tiny pns, nothing much to see at low powers – bright and almost starlike in direct vision, obvious extended source in averted vision. Viewed briefly at higher power in 10", bright roundish source with distinct pale blue tinge to my eyes (even visible in 4.5"). However some others saw it as white.

Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd in Hercules: Had a look at this one early on in lighter skies as it was setting over Mt Buffalo, which towers over the western horizon of the observing field. Not much to see against a crinkly light background, but it appeared as a pale blobby ‘star’ surrounded by low contrast haze. No longer visible from my place because of trees, I think I’ll have to say goodbye to this comet which has put on such a good visual show over recent months! It will be back in southern skies in April next year but considerably dimmer.

Saw lots of other great stuff – 47 Tucanae (fabulous, whatever scope), Omega Centauri (sad washed out coccoon, low in light sky), M22 glob cluster in Sgr (brilliant object, great field!), Jupiter & moons low down in poor seeing, naked eye views of the LMC & SMC were stunning, Mira (bright, lovely reddish-orange hue), etc etc etc.

NGC 224 (M31, Andromeda Galaxy): Low object this far south but did have a look at 43x. Only the bright galactic centre stands out, and of course the galaxy extends far outside the FOV. Left my binoculars at home unfortunately. Currently asteroid 372 Palma (mag 11) is crossing in front of the disk of M31 but I hadn’t generated charts which would have enabled me to identify it visually. But I did take my (basic) imaging gear out and at the end of the observing session I set it up. Shoot now, identify later! Anyway, here is the (very rough) result:

All in all a fantastic night – good company, great skies, and so much to see!

Cheers -
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