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Old 10-01-2008, 11:59 AM
Rob_K
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Location: Bright, Vic, Australia
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Obs Report 9 January 2008

Started off driving up to Clearspot, a ridge-top lookout over Bright, to try to see/image a New Moon at less than one day old. Fantastic 300 degree view across the ranges and Alps. But no go, as there was a thick murky band across the horizon. August will be the next chance for me to see this. A light haze of dust and probably a little smoke enveloped all the surrounding country, which did not bode well for the observing session ahead.
Drove back down to Porepunkah airstrip for our local group’s monthly get-together, arriving in the last of the twilight.

The sky remained a little milky as darkness took hold, but I’m sure it was still a sky that the average Melbournian would die for, not referring to any two people in particular, LOL!

Time: 10pm-1am, Wed 8 Jan 08 (UT+11)
Location: Porepunkah airstrip, Porepunkah, NE Vic
Telescope: Tasco 4.5" f8 reflector on Alt-Az mount
EP: 21mm Celestron X-Cel unless otherwise stated (x43)
Transparency: Reasonable (7-8/10), haze in atmosphere
Seeing: Poor – fair (3-4/10)

My aim was to observe some dim galaxies in the area of Orion, so thought I’d check a few familiar objects to test the transparency. M1 Crab Nebula in Taurus (mag 8.4) did not provide a great view, just a faint elongated glow, so this was not a good start. Large galaxies NGC55 and NGC253 were still quite bright, but not as good as usual and not the slightest hints of structure. Galaxy NGC247 was considerably fainter than the view I had last month. What to do? Well, give it a try! Got out my freshly-prepared charts and tried to track down galaxy NGC1784 above Rigel, but at mag 12.4 I just couldn’t see anything. So it didn’t look like the right night for tracking down dimmies. Plan B? Yeah, go on a tour!

M35, open cluster in Gemini – lovely open cluster, really suiting my FOV. Couple of nice arcs of stars within it. Noticed a distinct small patch of nebulosity to one side of the cluster, but SN doesn’t show anything there. Anyone seen this or know what it is?

M44, Beehive Cluster in Cancer – Reckon this is a better binocular target. Stunning, with lovely bright stars, but too large for FOV.

NGC4883 globular cluster in Musca, mag 6.9 – A nice little globular, quite bright and beside a small star. One of my favourites and spent a bit of time staring.

NGC4372 globular cluster in Musca, mag 7.2 – Was surprised to spot this one straight off given the conditions, a largish dim diffuse glow also beside a small star. Quite clear. Large with low surface brightness, I can remember the sense of achievement I felt when I first sighted it in my small scope after quite a number of tries! It was probably the first ‘difficult’ globular cluster that I had seen! Now it’s ridiculously easy even on an off-night, go figure…….

Galaxies in Fornax/Eridanus - This area was well-situated for viewing, and despite lack of success near Orion, I felt that it was worth a look, especially as there are some brighter little galaxies there. Dived into my bag for the charts I’d made up the previous month, and….. nothing! So, no charts other than a couple of galaxies scribbled on the large-scale charts in Astronomy Yearbook 2007. Yeah, do it…..

Cruised around at first – wow, galaxies everywhere! At one stage, I had seven galaxies fitting easily in the field of view! Checking SN later, I strongly suspect by their rough location and disposition that they were NGCs 1374, 1379, 1387, 1399, 1404, 1389 & 1386, mags 10s to 12s, the brightest of a dense cluster of galaxies, but I’ll need to re-check with detailed charts on hand. Lots more were around – edge-on spirals, face-on spirals and ellipticals. Doug (Hagar), who was imaging at the time, came over for a squizz. He too was surprised that so much was showing at this aperture when the transparency was not great. Found a nice, bright little edge-on spiral in Eridanus, which turned out to be NGC1532, mag 10.6.

Located NGC1379 (mag 11.6) from my rough charts – larger dim, diffuse glow, with a tiny star-like centre (unless it was a tiny star overlying the galaxy). Located a small galaxy not far away – it had a very bright, relatively ‘large’ fuzzy nucleus, with just occasional hints of a faint extension. This turned out to be NGC1398, mag 10.6. My rough charts also had NGC1232 pencilled in Eridanus – why, I don’t know, coz SN has it marked at dimmer than mag 15 and utterly beyond my scope. But when I scanned the area I found a definite faint fuzzy in about the right spot, just a dim amorphous glow. This one’s pretty much on it’s own according to SN. However, I do know that I can’t see mag 15 galaxies, so it’s ridiculous – I would guess that what I saw was roughly mag 12 or so. Any ideas? Has SN got the wrong magnitude, or maybe it’s a bit of unnamed nebulosity? Edit: Yeah, it's mag 9.9! So showed in my scope as a little dimmer than I'd expect!

Anyway, what a hoot! Can’t wait to get back to Fornax/Eridanus on a good dark night when I can get down to mid-13s magnitude range – just so much to see!! Might even remember my charts !

Mars/Saturn – Saturn had risen in the meantime, and I tried both these planets with 8mm X-Cel & 2x GSO Barlow, (x225) but quickly backed off coz the seeing was so poor. Mars looked reasonable with just the 8mm, while Saturn, though tiny, was best in the 21mm.

Last rites - Omega Centauri had also risen above the hills, and I had a quick look at it for the first time this "season". And I mean quick coz it wasn’t great, and I’d rather wait till it gets higher before I view this celestial marvel again. 47 Tucanae was fairly soft, so didn’t spend time there either. Zoomed up to the Tarantula Nebula, and it was surprisingly good, so I spent a bit of time there looking at the delicate warp and weft of this one!

All good things come to an end, and Doug & I, the last of the group remaining, packed up and went home. A great night!

Cheers -

Last edited by Rob_K; 10-01-2008 at 12:36 PM. Reason: New info
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Old 10-01-2008, 12:28 PM
Jazza (Jay)
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wow sounds like a great night!
I'm impressed at the faintness of some of those
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Old 11-01-2008, 08:38 AM
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goober (Doug)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob_K View Post
My rough charts also had NGC1232 pencilled in Eridanus – why, I don’t know, coz SN has it marked at dimmer than mag 15 and utterly beyond my scope. But when I scanned the area I found a definite faint fuzzy in about the right spot, just a dim amorphous glow. This one’s pretty much on it’s own according to SN. However, I do know that I can’t see mag 15 galaxies, so it’s ridiculous – I would guess that what I saw was roughly mag 12 or so. Any ideas? Has SN got the wrong magnitude, or maybe it’s a bit of unnamed nebulosity? Edit: Yeah, it's mag 9.9! So showed in my scope as a little dimmer than I'd expect!
Nice report, Rob.

Uranometria lists NGC 1232 as mag. 9.9, and NGC 1232A as mag. 14.6 - they seem to be superimposed over each other in the atlas.

Last edited by goober; 11-01-2008 at 11:34 PM.
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