Monday, 8 March 2010

Finally! Some telescopic observing

Saturday night was clear and, for once, I was able to get the 12 inch out for some galaxy hunting. Once it was set up and had been left to cool for an hour, I headed for Leo and the stars in the Lion's head to see what was lurking among them before nipping over to Ursa Major.

Date: 6th March 2010:
Conditions: Cold -2C; getting a bit breezy as it got dark; no Moon (not yet risen), the odd bit of drifting cloud
NELM: c6.0-6.1
Seeing: Ant II
Instrument: 12 inch f5 Dobsonian with 35mm Televue Panoptic (43x); 25mm Televue Plossl (61x) and 8mm Televue Radian (190x)

First, Leo, and as only the head (a.k.a. the Sickle or the Backward Question Mark) was clear of the house roof, I went there.

NGC 3190. Almost-but-not-quite edge-on looking with large bulge. 190x

NGC 3193. An oval to the north east of 3190, with slightly brighter middle. 190x.

NGC 3226 and 3227 (Arp 94). Interacting pair. They are oval, with slightly brighter middles. 3227 is more elongated than 3226 and is larger. 3226 lies to the north of 3227. 190x.

Then it was across to Ursa Major and the M81 group. M81 and M82 provide a very pretty view in the 35mm Panoptic, exactly the sort of view that can have you glued to the eyepiece for ages just admiring the view - in my opinion there is no finer sight in deep sky observing than two or (even better) more galaxies in the same field of view and if they are big bright galaxies, then that's finer still. I could just see a hint of a dark lane in bright M81, while M82 (Arp 337) was full of detail, with a couple of dark rifts cutting across the bright galaxy and a 'fuzzy' appearance to the outer edge.

NGC 2976. This is a large faint, uniformly bright (or not bright!) oval with a mag 12.5 star adjacent to it and a mag 14 star to the NW. 190x

NGC 3077. Small, oval, brighter middle. 190x

Unfortunately the session was cut somewhat short because I had toothache which was steadily worsening (and, by yesterday [Sunday] it was so bad, observing last night was completely out, despite lovely clear skies; a visit to the dentist today revealed a cracked filling - but every cloud has a silver lining, I wasn't charged as it was a recent filling that had given way) but I still managed an hour and saw some nice galaxies. However, I don't think my observations are as good as they could have been, due to toothache-induced lack of concentration, and the sketches are worse.

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