Old 20-04-2010, 09:05 PM
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Paddy (Patrick)
Canis Minor

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Observation notes 15/4/2010

Telescope 400mm f4.9 tri-dob reflector
Eyepieces 28mm UWAN, 17,13,9 mm Naglers, Paracorr
Guiding: Night Sky Observer’s Guide (NSOG)

The Plan: To start with the open clusters listed in Les Dalrymple’s article in the current AS&T then go galaxy watching in Virgo

Seeing excellent 1/5
Transparency excellent 7/7

NGC 3532 OC in Carina 80x Behind the many bright stars of the cluster the countless faint stars of the galactic disc are evident as faint grey points with interspersed labyrinth of dark trails. The stunning multi-coloured stars of the cluster itself spill way beyond the 1 degree AFOV. As Les points out, many shapes are obvious in this spectacular cluster. The most obvious is the dark arrow down the centre of the cluster pointing east with a v-shaped tail at the western end of the arrow. Numerous faint but very red carbon stars are scattered throughout the cluster amongst the many bright blue and orange stars. At the western end of the arrow is a beautiful double curved asterism reminiscent of the lugs of a jigsaw puzzle piece. There are so many patterns that it is impractical to list them.

Feinstein 1 OC in Carina 80x A much less populous cluster with fewer bright stars and a strong peppering of fainter stars. Also seems to easily fill the 1 deg. AFOV. NSOG refers to 2 parallel N-S chains each of about 7 brighter stars and this chains are quite apparent. There seem to be some dark lanes between these chains – I am not sure if these represent an absence of stars or dark nebulae concealing the background haze of the galactic disc stars. At the northern tip of the eastern chain, some fainter stars form 2 small crescents.

NGC 3572 OC in Carina (part of Collinder 240) 80x The surrounding Collinder 240 is itself a very intriguing spattering of stars. 3572 has several lines of brighter stars, mostly bluish but with one very orange star. Many fainter stars spattered throughout. I find the NSOG descriptions very useful, as there are so many clumps of stars around here that without the descriptions I would not be confident of the identity of each object. To the west is a bright white star and a curve of stars runs south of this star with stars ranging from blue/white to red. Another arc of stars projects into the cluster from north. Opposite this arc is a trapezium of stars embedded in a zig-zagging haze.

NGC 3581 OC+ nebula in Carina
135x Complex shape of haze and stars. The main part is a curving patch of haze/stars roughly forming a U-shape. The western arm of this is bifid. There is more to the west, but I’m not sure if this is a different object. The u-shape occupies roughly half the AFOV of 37’.

NGC 3603 OC+ nebula in Carina 80x More nebulosity and fainter stars than 3581, this appears to have 2 segments. The southern part is somewhat triangular, pointing to the south, separated from the northern part by a dark lane running ENE-WSW. The northern part is stirrup shaped. 135x shows the dark centre of the stirrup part to be slightly heart-shaped. UHC filter increases the brightness of the nebula especially at the southern tip and along the eastern edge of the southern section.

NGC 3766 OC in Centaurus 135x A cluster of great beauty. Les’ article refers to a shamrock shape in the nebula, which is discernible, but I am more struck is a pattern of stars quite like the head and shoulders of someone in a space suit facing south. 6 Stars are very bright, but otherwise many somewhat fainter stars tracing out intricate patterns and some scattered carbon stars.

NGC 5170 GX in Virgo
135x Although the sky is much clearer, this E-W edge on spiral remains quite faint. I am not able to reliably discern the dust lane.

NGC 5044 galaxy group in Virgo
135x 5044 bright face on with distinct nucleus. 5 other galaxies are visible in the AFOV of 37’ – to the west of it is a faint face on spiral or elliptical 5035, to the south of this edge-on spiral WSW-ENE – 5037, to the east is 5047 and 5049 both edge-on spirals.

NGC 4303/Messier 61 GX in Virgo 135x Face-on spiral with bright nucleus surrounded by circular haze about 5’ across. A line of 3 faint stars beside the galaxy is roughly parallel to the bar. Some dark gaps are visible, but I can’t quite make out the spiral arms.

I move to nearby 17 Virginis which is a lovely double star, to the east of which is
NGC 4324 GX in Virgo 135x Partly edge on spiral, quite bright and condensed.

When I push the scope to the other side of 17 Virginis, I am overwhelmed by more galaxies than I could poke a stick at. My AFOV of 37’ contains at least 9 galaxies. And more as I push my scope into the cluster. The mind boggles.

At first I think that the high altitude haze of recent nights has moved in, only to find that my secondary has completely dewed up. A first since I've had this scope. Ramping up the dew heater clears it, but it was time to hit the sack anyway. I have never had dew like this at my place.
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Old 20-04-2010, 09:36 PM
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michaellxv (Michael)
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Excellent report Paddy, nice detailed descriptions.
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Old 21-04-2010, 08:02 AM
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kustard (Simon)
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Suburb report, this is the kind of detail I eventually want to get to instead of just "faint" or "very nice" (which had my daughter laughing every time I looked at something hehe).

Good job Paddy
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Old 22-04-2010, 08:52 AM
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Paddy (Patrick)
Canis Minor

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Thanks Michael and Simon.
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