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Old 15-07-2012, 09:54 PM
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shelltree (Shelley)
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Observation Report 15.07.12

Observation Report 15.07.12



After a week of rain and cloud that saw me purchasing a star lamp and sticking glow in the dark stars on my ceiling , it finally cleared today and revealed a crystal clear sky. The Milky Way was a faint line of mist curving across the heavens and the faintest of stars twinkled and shone.

I found a patch of ground that wasn't muddy and set up for the night, fully intending on finding my first galaxy. My target was M104 and I had been researching most of the late afternoon, trying to find out as much information as I could to make it as easy as possible to find. I remembered that my friend had given me a copy of the Sky Atlas star maps and decided to highlight the brighter, more familiar stars to help me find my target. When I first looked at the maps, I was overwhelmed. They were so unbelievably detailed that familiar objects just seemed to fade into the rest of the map.

After studying and highlighting them, they started to make more sense and I knew that I would need something detailed if I wanted to find my galaxies.

I set up and got to work on locating the brighter star, Algorab and its close neighbour eta corvus. Once I did that, I continued east and got a bit bamboozled. I think I went too far so I retraced my steps and tried again. I got out the binoculars too and checked the view and then compared it to the star maps and also the print outs from Stellarium I had printed in the afternoon. I found the familiar asterisms that make it easy to find M104, found the 'Jaw's asterism and followed the three stars in a line and checked the eyepiece. I was so shocked, I had actually found it! As soon as I saw the 'Jaws' asterism, I knew I was in the right place and started getting excited. But to actually see it was another thing all together.

It appeared just like any other star in the 25mm eyepiece, except a definite hazy area ran through it like a line of smoke, with the 'star' seemingly bulging from its centre. I put in the 10mm eyepiece but it was rubbish. I could barely make out anything, the eyepiece isn't very good when it comes to galaxies it seems. It seems alright for brighter objects like planets and open clusters but I found the views far more impressive through the 25mm eyepiece.

I kept looking at it for quite some time and wasn't prepared to give it up, afraid I wouldn't be able to find it again. I even called my Mum (who was upstairs) and told her to come down and have a look . She couldn't see it because she wears glasses and found it hard to make out through the eyepiece. But I showed her Saturn and Omega Centauri and she was impressed! My Dad even came down later on for a peak at Saturn, Omega Centauri, M6 and the Lagoon Nebula. I showed him the Alpha Centauri binary but he couldn't split them.

Once I was by myself again, I decided I just had to find Centaurus A. I had tried before, a few times, even deluding myself into thinking I could see it when the Moon was high in the sky but it had eluded me and I was getting frustrated. I knew where it should be but every time I looked, I just couldn't see it . The fact that I had read that it was visible in binoculars, was what finally got me my second galaxy. I knew it was beneath the triangle of stars (psi, upsilon and mu centaurii) but so far I hadn't managed to match any stars beneath it with maps to better guide me. I grabbed my binoculars and got the triangle into view before moving downwards.

Following mu centaurii downward, I came to a small group of stars which I like to call "the square" before a smudge with a dark band jumped out at me. In my head I was chanting "I think that's it, it has to be it!". I aimed the telescope toward the triangle and centred mu centaurii before moving downward. I located "the square" and continued on until a smudge appeared. I took in a deep breath and looked in the eyepiece. There it was! Centaurus A, my beloved NGC5128, I had finally found it! An object that had eluded my friend and I in my first months of observing and I had found it. I was more than proud. I think I even did a little bit of a dance in my silly cow patch gum boots and giggled heartily.

In the 25mm eyepiece, it was a faint and fuzzy blob, with a definite dark lane crossing through it, from top to bottom. I just couldn't believe my eyes that I had to look again and again and assure myself I was actually looking at my second galaxy of the night. My first ever galaxies found all by myself, with no one to help me (except of course for the amazing help from my astro buddies who pointed me in the right direction ) and just myself to talk to.

This was definitely the highlight of the night.

After finding two galaxies, I wasn't sure where to go to next. I tried for NGC5102, as my star maps had it very close to iota centaurii but alas, I could not find it. Looking on stellarium now, I think I may have a better chance next time. I also tried for NGC5121 which is close by but didn't have any luck there either. By the time I started looking for NGC3918, it had dipped just below the tree line so it will be an object for another night. I know where it is now, it's just a matter of tracking it down before it gets too low in the sky!

I decided to try for M22 in Sagittarius, knowing I had found it before awhile ago. Of course, I always have difficulties with figuring out the shape of "The Teapot" because it really has to be the most ridiculous teapot shape I've ever seen . After scrutinising the sky, I finally had it figured and pointed the scope toward Kaus Borealis and tada, there she was! M22, brilliant and bright, it shone and twinkled like ice crystals in the sky. What a beauty!

I then looked for NGC6231 in Scorpius. Through the viewfinder, it was absolutely incredible! A long line of stars on either side of a dark lane, the colours of the stars bringing this cluster to life. I remember seeing this cluster through binoculars and was absolutely blown away!

I briefly tried for NGC4945 but had no luck here either. I was getting tired by this point, my toes were going numb and my back and shoulder were protesting something fierce . So I called it a night and packed up.

A very fruitful observing session if I do say so myself. I went out hoping to find just one galaxy and ended up finding two! Not too shabby for a night's work!
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Old 15-07-2012, 10:02 PM
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astroron (Ron)
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Great Report Shelley,
It only gets better from here
Cheers
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Old 15-07-2012, 11:38 PM
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FJA (Faith)
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NGC 6231 is one of my favourite open clusters and, with H 12 makes up the 'False Comet' in Scorpius. Alas for us up here in the UK it's below the horizon but I always make a point of looking for it when I am at more southerly latitudes and it is up.

Last edited by FJA; 15-07-2012 at 11:50 PM.
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Old 16-07-2012, 06:12 AM
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orestis
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Wow what a report, a great read.

Coincidently my first galaxy was M104, I remember printing out charts of the asterisms to help me find it. Those 3 stars point straight at it so it was not to hiden. The first thing i thought when I saw this magestic galaxy was wow I am seeing light that has travelled for 30 million years and that image of the galaxy was 30 million years old. It was the first time I realised I had a light time machine.

Ngc 6231 is quite a lovely cluster forming a part of the grand constellation of scorpius. I like the mixture of very beight and slighty dimmer stars vey much like the jewel box.

Thank you very much for posting Shelley, this report has stirred aome great memories.
I hope to be under the stars soon. His has made me feel like doing some observing tonight even if I have school the next day.
Regards Orestis
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Old 16-07-2012, 08:07 AM
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HI Shell & All,

Wonderful report Shell, I can feel your excitement from Sydney! As Ron said, it only gets better from here on in !

Best,

Les D
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Old 16-07-2012, 01:01 PM
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You do great reports Shell!

Congratulations on your catch of galaxies- it's so exciting nabbing galaxies & in particular, for the first time isn't it- I share your excitement!

I could never figure out that star hop to Cent.A galaxy, I always had soooo much trouble finding it. Good on you!
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Old 16-07-2012, 03:08 PM
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Lismore Bloke (Paul)
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Hi Shelley,
What a great report, observing galaxies near any large city can be a bit of a challenge. Your enthusiasm and enjoyment is very obvious, great stuff. Look forward to lots more. Cheers, Paul.
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Old 16-07-2012, 05:19 PM
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barx1963 (Malcolm)
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Well done Shelley.
Some of my favourite objects there, I love M104.
Good to see you practising star hopping. With a little practice it get much easier, and after a few sessions it will be second nature. Charts do take a little getting used to, but you are on your way.
The whole area around Sagittarius is a star hoppers paradise, lots of stars, lots of bright objects especially all the globs, so it is a great place of hone your skills.

Malcolm
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Old 16-07-2012, 09:21 PM
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Paddy (Patrick)
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Delightful report Shelley. The excitement and joy of your night is quite contagious. And as you keep star hopping, over time you will find each object more quickly and the sky will be your oyster. Keep 'em coming!
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Old 17-07-2012, 07:49 PM
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shelltree (Shelley)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astroron View Post
Great Report Shelley,
It only gets better from here
Cheers
Thanks so much Ron, I'm excited!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FJA View Post
NGC 6231 is one of my favourite open clusters and, with H 12 makes up the 'False Comet' in Scorpius. Alas for us up here in the UK it's below the horizon but I always make a point of looking for it when I am at more southerly latitudes and it is up.
Ahhhh, so that's what it's called! I was wondering whether the entire structure was NGC6231. It is absolutely magnificent! I really think it shines in binoculars and my finderscope more than the eyepiece. Of course I don't have a widefield eyepiece yet so...

Quote:
Originally Posted by orestis View Post
Wow what a report, a great read.

Coincidently my first galaxy was M104, I remember printing out charts of the asterisms to help me find it. Those 3 stars point straight at it so it was not to hiden. The first thing i thought when I saw this magestic galaxy was wow I am seeing light that has travelled for 30 million years and that image of the galaxy was 30 million years old. It was the first time I realised I had a light time machine.

Ngc 6231 is quite a lovely cluster forming a part of the grand constellation of scorpius. I like the mixture of very beight and slighty dimmer stars vey much like the jewel box.

Thank you very much for posting Shelley, this report has stirred aome great memories.
I hope to be under the stars soon. His has made me feel like doing some observing tonight even if I have school the next day.
Regards Orestis
Yes, mate! Those three stars are what gave it away. I saw the small triangle shape and as soon as I saw the line of stars in the Jaws asterism, I instantly knew I had done it! It is such an amazing feeling, especially when you are out there on your own, searching and researching and getting frustrated and then finally everything just falls into place! Magical So so glad this has made you feel like getting out under the stars again! I was too lazy to head out last night and now I'm regretting it because it's overcast again

Quote:
Originally Posted by ngcles View Post
HI Shell & All,

Wonderful report Shell, I can feel your excitement from Sydney! As Ron said, it only gets better from here on in !

Best,

Les D
Thanks Les! I think it may have been my yippee's and 20,000 exclamation marks that gave it away Looking forward to getting out there again soon (when this soup eases up again!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzy View Post
You do great reports Shell!

Congratulations on your catch of galaxies- it's so exciting nabbing galaxies & in particular, for the first time isn't it- I share your excitement!

I could never figure out that star hop to Cent.A galaxy, I always had soooo much trouble finding it. Good on you!
Thanks Suz I knew that it was suppose to be somewhere beneath that triangle but would always get so frustrated because I could never pinpoint it, grrr! Then I decided I would give the binos a try and would you believe it, a faint fuzzy in the sky where it should be! Lined up the box like shape and tada I was quite surprise after all of that, that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lismore Bloke View Post
Hi Shelley,
What a great report, observing galaxies near any large city can be a bit of a challenge. Your enthusiasm and enjoyment is very obvious, great stuff. Look forward to lots more. Cheers, Paul.
Thanks so much Paul, I was astounded myself! Luckily I am a good 45-40 minutes from the city and live on 4 acres so on a dark night I can make out wisps of the Milky Way but I have to compete with a lot of trees

Quote:
Originally Posted by barx1963 View Post
Well done Shelley.
Some of my favourite objects there, I love M104.
Good to see you practising star hopping. With a little practice it get much easier, and after a few sessions it will be second nature. Charts do take a little getting used to, but you are on your way.
The whole area around Sagittarius is a star hoppers paradise, lots of stars, lots of bright objects especially all the globs, so it is a great place of hone your skills.

Malcolm
Thank you Malcolm, I am stoked! The next clear night I am going to focus on objects in Sagittarius before it gets too high in the sky and get some star hopping practise The key is to find sort of recognisable shapes out of a few stars, I find patterns most definitely make it easier!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paddy View Post
Delightful report Shelley. The excitement and joy of your night is quite contagious. And as you keep star hopping, over time you will find each object more quickly and the sky will be your oyster. Keep 'em coming!
Thank you Patrick, I intend on keeping these objects fresh in my mind now. The more objects I learn, the more times I will go to find them each session until they become second nature I'm hooked!
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