Friday, 19 March 2010

Observing, March 15th 2010

Skies were looking good the other evening, so I dragged out the 12 inch for a Herschel session. On setting it up, though, I found the alignment was out, way out in fact, which was annoying and a problem that the new collimation springs I'd bought for it was supposed to prevent. However, I put the problem down to the fact that I'd resorted to transporting the heavy and awkward tube into the garden with a sack trolley which must have knocked the mirror and cell.

Once I'd sorted that out, I left it to cool and went inside to help my aunt with some sorting out of stuff she wanted done (the house is being re-arranged and a massive chuck-out is going on), badly slashing my thumb in the process, while trying to take down a burnt-out light fitting, and having to get it bandaged up - with my aunt on crutches after a foot operation the kitchen looked like A&E - but once this was done, the observing began.

Date 15th March 2010
Time: 2045 - 2300 UT
Conditions: chilly (around 1C), misty, no wind
Seeing: I-II
Transparency: III
NELM: 5.8-6.0 (mist causing light scatter)
Equipment: 12 inch f5 Dobsonian, 22mm Televue Panoptic (69x), 11mm Televue Plossl (138x), 8mm Televue Radian (190x) and OIII filter

First up, into Leo where NGCs 3607 and 3608 made a nice pair in the same field of view of the 22mm Panoptic. Also in the f.o.v. was NGC 3599 which is a lot fainter.

NGC 3607, galaxy in Leo - bright, oval suddenly brightens to a very bright nucleus. 69x, 138x.

NGC 3608, galaxy in Leo - slightly fainter than 3607. Also oval with slightly brighter centre. 69x, 138x.

NGC 3955, galaxy in Leo - considerably fainter than the other two, oval. Non-Herschel.  69x, 138x.

NGC 3626, galaxy in Leo - smaller than 3607/8, fainter, elongated north-south. Brightens towards centre to a bright nucleus. 69x, 138x.

NGC 3655, galaxy in Leo - elongated north-south. Brightens gradually to non-stellar core. Fairly bright, small, oval. Well defined against background sky. 69x, 138x

NGC 2903, galaxy in Leo - very bright and easy to find. Elongated north-south, oval. Slight hint of spiral structure. Brightens to very bright, almost stellar, nucleus. Nice! One I want to return to on a better night. 69x, 138x.

NGC 3344, galaxy in Leo Minor - round, almost even glow, brightening slightly towards middle. Two bright foreground stars are in the eastern half of the galaxy. 69x. 138x.

NGC 2859, galaxy in Leo Minor - small, round, with quite faint outer halo. Brightens considerably to very bright core. 69x, 138x.

NGC 2782, galaxy in Lynx - round. Not bright. Brightens gradually towards a compact core. 69x, 138x.

NGC 2371/2, planetary nebulae in Gemini - at 69x looks elongated with a distinctly 'figure of 8' look about it, or looking like a peanut. At medium power (138x) the two lobes are very obvious and one lobe (the western one) is much brighter than it's neighbour. At higher power (190x - highest I could go to on such a crummy night and with my collimation a bit out) the appearance is of two ovals adjacent to each other, each elongated approx. north-south. 69x, 138x, 190x + OIII filter.

NGC 2419, globular cluster in Lynx - round, even glow with no condensation. Nicely marked out by three bright stars in an arc pointing straight at it. Moderately bright, well defined against background sky. No stars resolved. although with averted vision some granulation (hinting at stars) appears.  69x, 138x, 190x.

Reluctantly packed up at 2300 UT; I would have gone on for a lot longer, only I had to be up at 0600 for work the following morning. It was a good session, better than I expected, despite the crummy conditions and my poor throbbing, massacred, thumb. I have now crept up to 11% of Herschels observed in the initial 400 list.

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