Thursday, 24 March 2011

Observing, 23rd March 2011

With the waning gibbous Moon not now rising until a minute after midnight (after one of the brightest full Moons in 20 years, thanks to it being at perigee), I hauled the 12" out for a galaxy-hunting session in Leo. We've had a nice run of lovely spring weather just recently, with lots of sunshine and some warmth, which makes a nice change after the coldest and cloudiest winter I can remember. Unfortunately, this has coincided with the rise of the Moon, so deep sky observing has been out of the question, but I've gone out several times with the binoculars for a general look round.

Date: 23rd March 2011
Conditions: Chilly (8C/46F), clear but murky; mist was coming down and making the skyglow worse. Very dewy indeed.
Transparency: III-IV (murk wiped out some of the fainter galaxies)
Seeing: II
NELM: Around 5.8
Equipment: 12" f/5 dob, 22mm Televue Panoptic (69x), 15mm Televue Plossl (101x), 8mm Televue Radian (190x)

NGC 3628, galaxy in Leo - Fairly large, low surface brightness but not too faint. Elongated east-west. Dust lane visible with averted vision. In the 8mm Radian (190x) it stretches across the field of view. One of the 'Leo Trio' with M65 and M66. 69x, 101x, 190x

NGC 3593, galaxy in Leo - Fairly faint, elongated E-W oval. Brightens to a non-stellar core. 69x, 190x

NGC 3379, galaxy in Leo - M105, one of the Messier objects in the H400. Very bright. Round with gradual brightening towards the centre. Makes an attractive pair with NGC 3384. Nice. 69x, 190x.

NGC 3384, galaxy in Leo - Next to M105 this isn't quite as bright and is slightly smaller. Brightens slightly towards its centre. 69x, 190x

NGC 3389, galaxy in Leo - Much fainter than 3379 and 3384. Elongated east-west. Featureless. Not easily seen at 69x, needs more magnification to be seen well. 69x, 101x, 190x

NGC 3379, 3384 and 3389 all fit into the same field of view at all powers (69x, 101x, 190x).

NGC 3377, galaxy in Leo - Bright oval. Oriented east-west. Bright, non-stellar core. 69x, 190x

NGC 3810, galaxy in Leo - Dim. Oval. Slightly brighter core. 69x, 190x.

NGC 3640, galaxy in Leo - Bright and round. Brightens gradually  to a non-stellar core. I looked for the tiny companion, NGC 3641, but only suspected I saw it. That will definitely have to wait for a less murky evening. 69x, 190x

NGC 3900, galaxy in Leo - Fairly bright. Oval, elongated north-south. Brightens gradually to core. 69x, 190x

I packed up at 2145 because it was getting mistier, murkier and generally yucky, causing lots of light scatter that you don't normally see here, and the galaxies were getting wiped out. This takes me up to 140 out of the 400 Herschel objects, which is 35% of the total. I still have five objects in Leo to do, so hopefully I can get these remaining ones within the next few weeks. I know that, in order to complete the H400, I am going to have to go further south, either to the Canary Islands or TSP again one year - but that is no hardship!

Here's the so-called 'supermoon' (which is what the media were calling it), one day after full, as it rose. I leaned out of an upstairs window, while handholding my Canon 7D and 400mm lens. It was low down and very golden. Even for a deep sky person it was a very attractive sight!

I haven't given up on sketching, it's because I want to get as much done of the Herschel 400 as possible so, for the time being, I am just finding things and doing written descriptions of them. I will go back to sketching as soon as possible.
I have got exciting news, but more on that soon...

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