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Messages - mccarthymark

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TAC Visual / Triple double with Cor Caroli
« on: June 14, 2017, 12:56:46 PM »
While hunting faint and close pairs with my 12.5-inch last night, I realized there is a "triple double" which includes Cor Caroli!  They're not all physically bound to each other, but it was a nice scene all the same.

Cor Caroli = STF 1692 is the well beloved Alpha Canum Venaticorum and was the start of my star hop for the list of pairs I prepared for the session.  About half a degree to the west was STF 1688, a faint pair (9.24/11.06, 14.4", 343°), yellow A and orangish B, which I identified using 340x.  Next on the list was STF 1702, which was about half a degree to the east of Cor Caroli.  It was a wide orange-yellow pair, 8.72/9.41, 36.1", 82°.

It struck me it might be possible to see all three in the same FOV, so I went down to 71x and 1.1° and yes, I could just squeeze all three in the view, the two fainter Struves just within the field stop on either side of the showpiece in the center.  It helped to have already seen STF 1688, since it was the faintest pair to pick out.

It's these little scenes which give me great satisfaction while observing.  Hope you have something new to look for when observing this old favorite.

Observing Reports / Re: Making the most of it from the Peak
« on: May 31, 2017, 12:35:19 PM »
I'll give Bob the benefit of the doubt.  I was at 205x, which is ok for all those galaxies I was viewing, but I should have lowered it for this PN.  In the caption to his sketches Bob mentions using only 64x--so perhaps my higher magnification spread out the shell making it appear fainter, vs. more concentration in lower magnification.  I had more aperture (his 15-inch vs. my 20-inch), but he might've had a darker and more transparent sky -- I observed this toward the end of the session when I was viewing through gaps in clouds.

Worth another try to see if the view improves.

Besides, Reiner Vogel calls this "not overly difficult," albeit with a 22-inch, in his excellent large PN observing guide.

Observing Reports / Making the most of it from the Peak
« on: May 29, 2017, 01:28:32 PM »
Last Tuesday night the 23rd seemed to be the last possible clear night I could get out to observe, though it was predicted to be cloudy by 2am, and it was a work night.  Nevertheless I hauled my 20-inch up to the Peak.  I packed my primary mirror in a box so it could be in my air-conditioned office during the work day rather than baking in my car.  This was a wise move since it was relatively equilibrated when setting up at the Peak at 8pm.  Unfortunately the sky was not that great – good seeing but a thin haze most of the night.  SQML topped out at 21.1, and after chasing holes since midnight was finally shut down by 1:30am.  Here are some of the notable sights:

NGC 4637:  ! Small, fairly faint, but much elongated streak.  There is a long brighter bar or elongated core along its major axis, which is twisted.  NGC 4638 is just to the west, a bright and larger elliptical.  The pair is near M60/NGC 4647. 

NGC 4571: Bright egg-shaped core with very faint, large diffuse round halo.  Near bright (double?) star to NE.

NGC 4313: Tough hop to find.  Long, faint inclined spiral -- spiral structure hinted by mottling in the halo.  Averted vision brightens the halo and reveals a round core & just stellar nucleus.  5:1 NW-SE.  Nice!

NGC 4299 & 4294: Wow! 4294 moderately large, moderately bright inclined spiral 4:1 NNW-SSE, bright large core diffuse halo to tips.  Star on NW tip. 4299 faint, fairly large, round, very diffuse.  Orientated E-W of each other in same FOV.

NGC 4168: Fairly bright and large elliptical with bright core & stellar nucleus.  Two other smaller, fainter galaxies flank it to the NNW (NGC 4165-- small, fairly faint, stellar nucleus, faint halo elongated 3:1 N-S) and W (NGC 4164 -- small, round, bright small core and diffuse halo).

NGC 4212: Very diffuse halo with even surface brightness, very small stellar nucleus.  Some structure seen with averted vision: it becomes larger, with slightly brighter core, and mottling in the halo, 2:1 WSE-ENE.  Interesting galaxy.

NGC 4298 & 4302: Very remarkable!  4298 is to the west, pretty bright and large, 3:2 NW-SE, pretty much even surface brightness but with a largish bright core and diffuse edges.  4302 is very close to the east, a long edge on 6:1 N-S slightly mottled halo -- photos show a narrow dark lane which I did not see.  Low surface brightness and more diffuse than its companion.  Many stars scattered about...especially one at N tip of 4302 and one on NE rim of 4298.

NGC 4312: Fairly faint 4:1 N-S streak.  Double star following right in line with center of galaxy.  No core, even surface brightness, fading tips. [Did not notice faint galaxy near the double stars].  M100 is nearby, but which I didn't frame in FOV -- I only took a glance at it as I was star hopping to 4312.]

NGC 4340 & 4350: 4340 has a stellar nucleus, bright compact core, round fairly bright halo with diffuse edges; SB0-a.  4350 is bright, has a stellar nucleus, elongated core diffuse halo gradually fading, 4:1 SSW-NNE.

NGC 4260: Bright nucleus and core, elongated 3:1 SW-NE.  Near bright star with two small, faint round galaxies next to it [NGC 4269/IC 3155].

NGC 4264 & 4261: 4261 is large and bright oval shape, 3:1 NNW-SSE, very bright core and stellar nucleus.  Following it is its little brother 4264, fairly faint, small, slightly elongated.  Following it wherever it goes and looking like its big brother too.  There are many other galaxies in the area I did not note down.

NGC 4270: 4270 is fairly bright with a bright round core and elongated 3:1 NW-SE.  Four more galaxies in the field: NGC 4273, 4277, NGC 4259, and NGC 4281.

NGC 4339: Brightest of three galaxies in field.  Fairly bright and small, it has a stellar nucleus, and diffuse round halo.  Two others in FOV to SW: 4333 (small, faint, round) and 4326 (small, fairly faint, round).  All three form a right triangle.

NGC 4343: Brightest and furthest south of four forming a misshapen kite in the field.  Pretty bright and large, has a bright core 4:1 NW-SE.  Others are: NGC 4342 to north (fairly bright, small, stellar nucleus, elongated NNW-SSE); NGC 4341 farther to NE (small, faint, elongated 3:1 NW-SE), IC 3267 to the ENE (very faint, averted vision needed to see but can hold all the time, small, round diffuse halo).

NGC 4612: Near string of stars.  Bright, small, stellar nucleus, round core, diffuse round halo.  It looks like the last star in the string, but one that got smudged or is dissolving.

NGC 4519: Moderately large patch, compact brighter core in center of very diffuse oval.  Globular cluster like, a glow with brighter patches or knots.  [It is a face-on spiral -- did not notice smaller galaxy to NE].

NGC 4359: Not plotted on Interstellarum.  Very faint edge on.  Lovely!  Direct vision but need averted to brighten it up.  Very weakly brighter elongated core. but mostly even surface brightness halo 5:1 WNW-ESE fading imperceptibly at the tips. Very tenuous and hard won!

NGC 4395: Needed to switch to 121x for this one as it is large and spread out.  Brighter almost stellar core area in middle of very faint, diffuse round glow uneven surface brightness.  Probably a face-on spiral.  Don't see any arms, just unevenness. [Turns out those uneven patches are distinct NGC designations, HII knots in the spiral]

LoTr5 (Longmore-Tritton 5): The only Planetary Nebula on the menu.  It is the middle star of an arc of three, which with OIII blinks and shows the faintest of a fairly large irregularly lit shell.

TAC Visual / Re: Action on Jupiter
« on: May 03, 2017, 08:11:47 PM »
Steve I saw last night's action too. At the same moment Io started its transit you should have also seen Europa reappear from behind the planet's shadow. It flared as a tiny point then grew to a full disk in about a minute. Way cool. I was able to watch  Io transit along the belt as a bright disk until a few minutes before its shadow looked like a nibble was taken out of Jupiter 's limb.

I've also been enjoying some high power 553 - 850x views of the moon's terminator. Getting ready for close doubles in Cancer tonight

Observing Intents / Re: New Moon weekend
« on: April 21, 2017, 12:12:44 PM »
If I didn't catch this cold I have I'd be going out tonight. It does look to be more certain good conditions tonight

TAC Visual / Re: Asteroid 2014 JO25
« on: April 20, 2017, 12:37:42 PM »
I was able to see the asteroid last night, but only briefly.  I could not use my 12.5-inch with tracking platform since from that location in my yard it was behind a tree, so I used my non tracking 8-inch f/7.25, which I set up in a different corner of the yard.  The light pollution & haze were so bad I could not see Coma Berenices & had to start my star hop from Cor Caroli (a magnificent place to start, so no real complaint).  Using the S&T finders I easily picked up the field using 67x at 9:00pm, but I did not see the asteroid for about 10 minutes -- it was a little further along than I was looking and considerably fainter than I expected -- likely due to the haze.  Its movement was noticeable at 113x and it seemed to dim and brighten -- but I think this was the seeing rather than brightness change.  I watched it move for about five minutes before a marine layer swept over the sky.

I looked for five minutes more at Jupiter, showing wonderful detail, before it too was lost.  I stayed out for a while longer, watching the broken chunks of marine layer slide overhead -- but it was soon a solid mass and there was no hope of me seeing the asteroid again.

TAC Visual / Asteroid 2014 JO25
« on: April 19, 2017, 12:23:21 PM »
Hoping the weather will hold out long enough to catch this tonight.  At 11pm it makes a close approach to M64 -- maybe same FOV?

TAC Visual / Re: Question about observing at Pinnacles
« on: April 13, 2017, 08:30:41 PM »
When I go I do sleep before heading home -- I don't want to be a danger to myself or others. I stop observing early to catch enough sleep and set the alarm on my phone so I'm driving out before dawn.  If I see a ranger when paying the entry fee on my way in, I let him or her know my plan and it has always been ok

Observing Reports / Re: Rustling up some galaxies at the ranch
« on: April 05, 2017, 12:49:23 PM »
Isn't that funny.  I was looking at IC 2597 & (unplotted) ESO 501-59 in my scope before we looked at Hickson 48 in your scope a few minutes later.  It wasn't identified as a Hickson in Interstellaum, so I didn't pull out my Hickson finder until we were trying to see it in your scope.  With your larger aperture and higher magnification it looked different enough that I didn't recognize it. 

Now I'll have to go back and see if I can bag (c) and (d) in mine. 

Observing Reports / Rustling up some galaxies at the ranch
« on: April 04, 2017, 10:52:57 PM »
Getting out on a Tuesday night was rather a necessity to cure my photon deprivation.  I didn’t mind the resulting sleep deprivation, even at work the next day.  A great variety of objects seen, the ones which left the greatest impression here:

Stone 61, Double star in Pyxis.  Pretty blue and orange pair, PA to south; close but well split, I’d guess 5-6”.  Can't find any online references for this, even in Stelle Doppie.  Close to Minkowsky 3-6 (which showed as a very small green orb with OIII). 

NGC 2818/A, OC and PN in Pyxis: Cluster is large and loose with wide range of brightness; 12 brighter stars scattered over a mist of fainter; moderately rich.  People complain the cluster is too sparse and not detached, but it seemed pretty well detached to me.  The planetary is on the western edge of the cluster and is a foreground object.  No central star, it is rather large with a diffuse halo and slightly out of round N-S.  The halo brightens on the southern rim, and a little less bright brightening on the SW side.   Seeing did not support higher than 205x.

IC 2469: Sc Spiral: 4 degrees north of 2818, a long edge on, large, pretty bright, 12b mag.  Small round nucleus, less bright round and prominent core, with a long halo 4:1 NE-SW which averted vision brightens and lengthens, especially to the north.  Southern extension is shorter and dimmer.  Star in middle of southern arm.  John Herschel missed this one during his South African foray; was discovered by Lewis Swift in 1897.  It's very strange: the image of this galaxy in Aladin doesn't show any other galaxies, even faint ones, nearby; IC 2469 is big, bright, and on its own. 

NGC 2784: Very bright stellar nucleus, bright oval core and long 5:1 E-W faint halo with hints of spiral and is twisted – like the blur of a coin spinning to rest on a table.  Star at the northern tip.

NGC 3132 Eight burst nebula, PN in Vela: Bright central star, oval NE-SW halo with a soft edge, darker central ring around the central star.  OIII gives an impression of spiraling turbulence in the brightened halo.  NBP filter has a better view, with a brighter CS and shows the same halo swirl, which may be brighter sections of an inner ring with a diffuse halo surrounding it.

NGC 3495: Large, lovely tilted spiral.  Strong impression of spiral arms.  Sharp cut-off edge on the east side; the west side of the halo is larger.  Slowly brightening to the middle, to a small bright nucleus.  4:1 NNE-SSW.

Hydra I Cluster / AGC 1060: Steve was working on the Hydra I Cluster and invited me to join with my scope.  He pointed out the 5th magnitude star at the center of the cluster.  If one finds the cup of Crater and follows a straight line through the cup and its holder, there are two bright stars -- the star to the NE is the one to aim at.  Boom! Galaxies everywhere!  I followed the detail chart in my Interstellarum and could find every object I tried.  NGC 3311 / 3309 dominate the space between the two bright stars in the center of the cluster; 3311 had a bright core with a mottled halo, likely spiral, and 3309 was a fairly bright elliptical.  A much fainter and smaller NGC 3307 lay to the west.  They form a string with smaller and fainter NGC 3312, and NGC 3314 and its excessively faint and small companion A.  Off to the east was NGC 3316-1, a relatively bright and large patch.  Steve called out instructions for finding some excessively faint ESOs which were not plotted on the chart, 501-47 & 501-49, which were mere small smudges seen with averted vision only.  One really has to work to find such objects.  I scanned about in the 1 degree circle around this main group, and found a few more NGCs and ESOs and ICs.  The most interesting one was IC 2597, which seemed to be an interacting pair with a smaller galaxy to its south, which I find on Aladin is ESO 501-59; I had the impression that the halos were somehow touching, but this was illusory as the gap in redshifts is too large; likely just overlapping in line of sight.  To really explore these clusters I need larger scale charts but especially a scope that will track, since it was distracting to bump the scope along with the sky, and limited the power I could apply.
NGC 3162: Nice!  Obviously a face on spiral, though small and fairly faint.  Stellar nucleus.  Brighter on the southern rim, which must be an arm.

NGC 3227 / Group: Bright, large, NW-SE 5:2, with a bright core and very small / stellar nucleus.  Mottling in the halo hints of spiral.  Its NE tip touches NGC 3226 on the outer edge of that galaxy's core.  3226 is fainter but about as large and also with a bright core and stellar nucleus, SSW-NNE, 3:2.  Very striking scene.  NGC 3222 is to the west on edge of FOV, faint, small and round.

Arp 291 = UGC 5832 & CGCG 65-90. Pretty faint irregular oval, pops with averted vision. Asymmetrical shape; some brightening glow within the halo with averted vision.  It is a closely paired double galaxy which Arp classified as having "wind effects."

NGC 3501: Very long and thin edge on; 6:1 or more, SSW-NNE.  Faint but brightens and shows a twisted halo with averted vision.  Another galaxy, NGC 3507, faint and round, close to the NE.

Arp 191 = UGC 6175A & B (MCG+3-28-63): Arp classified as "Narrow filaments."  Two glows next to each other, very faint and small, no detail.

NGC 3666: Nice edge on, brightens greatly with averted vision.  Large uniform oval core, no nucleus, long diffuse edges.  Bright star to NE, and a second fainter star very close to W tip.  E-W 4:1.

NGC 3705: Stellar nucleus, very small bright core, diffuse halo.  No end to it; 5:1 NW-SE.  Looks like it has a double nucleus? 
NGC 4742: Small intense stellar nucleus and a very faint & diffuse halo elongated 3:2 E-W.  Pretty bright and small.  To the SE is yellow & blue double star STF 1682, which made a wonderful sight with the galaxy.

My last object was M3, found by Telrad and memory.  Enormous, bright, very well resolved with tiny points for stars; many yellow and red stars seen.  Isn't it a kicker, than my mirror settles down just when I'm too tired to continue.  It was 3am and time to sleep.

TAC Visual / Re: Nice binocular double star
« on: March 29, 2017, 11:00:15 AM »
June 2014 from my backyard in 12.5-inch: "Both bright orange, near equal, but A is slightly brighter.  Faint bluish optical companion to A with AV."

AKA Piazzi's Flying Star for it's high proper motion; one of the first to be measured by parallax method to try to determine its distance; a lot of observing history on this one.

Check out Stelle Doppie; 18 stars visible in the system!?  Is it a double or a cluster?

Observing Reports / Some doubles around Gemini
« on: March 05, 2017, 10:08:31 AM »
Last week we had three nights of better than average seeing, so I spent the time splitting doubles with my 12.5-inch f/7.  The perimeter of the mirror is masked down to 11.5-inch to deal with a turned edge, so I suppose it is correctly stated as an 11.5-inch f/7.6.  On such nights I focus primarily on very close and fainter doubles, for which I print out AAVSO finder charts since most of them are not plotted in my Cambridge Double Star Atlas.  I stayed at 553x the whole time; here are some of the highlights, which are my observation followed by the confirming data in brackets (A/B magnitudes, separation, position angle) I retrieved from Stelle Doppie afterward:

Propus (means "forefoot") = Eta Geminorum = B 1008: So cool!  Bright orange star with a very close B, ~1.5", just preceding, ~3 delta mag. B is in diffraction but is well separated & has its own bluish white airy disk.   [3.52, 6.15, 1.6" 252°].  06H 14M 52.69S +22° 30' 24.6"

STF 942: Faint near equal brightness stars, well split, PA W-E.  [10.07/10.1, 3.4", 246°] 06H 37M 40.87S +23° 38' 54.2"

BU 100: !! Pretty orange and blue.  4 delta mag, PA to west.  Wide separation ~3".  B is just seen, a very fine point. [7.34/11.1, 3.2, 143°.  Burnham's discovery in 1873 was at 2.5" separation.  Last WDS observation in 1978 -- deserves another measure now] 07H 00M 56.55S +12° 24' 00.4"

HO 342: ! Yellow-orange and blue stars, PA to the east, 1 delta magnitude; tight but well split ~1".  [7.99/8.71, 1.1", 87°] 07H 02M 50.54S +13° 05' 21.7"

WEI 14: A yellow-orange, B blue, 1 delta mag, PA to south.  Nice!  [7.77/8.91, 2.1", 160°]. 07H 12M 48.16S +15° 10' 41.9"

STF 1068: Pumpkin orange pair, near equal magnitude, PA to north.  Well separated ~4".  Nice.  [AB 9.29/.8, 4", 349°] 07H 19M 49.31S +13° 22' 22.4"

STF 1116: Pretty tight white, near equal magnitude, 2-3", PA to east.  Nice pair.  [7.81/8.5, 1.8" 96°] 07H 34M 32.02S +12° 18' 16.9"

STF 981: Very close orange pair, equal magnitude.  Clean split, ~1".  Worth the hop from Tau Geminorum.  [8.72/8.97, 0.95", 292.3°] 06H 55M 28.54S +30° 09' 42.3"

STF 1014: !! Tough find, faint field.  Very faint near equal brightness pair, ~3", PA to the SW.  [9.91/9.93, 2", 219°] 07H 05M 44.95S +26° 08' 25.3"

A 674: B more a blue haze than a point off the yellow A.  I believe I have it, very close and faint.  PA to SE.  [8.21/9.77, 1.1", 125°] 07H 44M 38.11S +31° 06' 50.1"

STF 1147: Very fine 2", equal magnitude blue - white pair, PA to south, ~2".  [9.66/9.68, 2.2", 174°]. 07H 50M 19.69S +24° 31' 55.8"

STF 1126: !! Wow, very close <1" hair-split, near equal brightness; almost overlapping disks.  [6.55/6.96, 0.8", 175°]  07H 40M 06.99S +05° 13' 51.9"

STT 182: Very close, ~1", near equal brightness white.  [7.82/7.93, 0.8", 11°] 07H 52M 42.12S +03° 23' 02.2"

STF 1210: Pretty wide greenish yellow pair, wide separation, 2 delta mag.  [AB 7.25/9.45, 15.5", 113°.  AC is 13.5 mag and 68", not seen] 08H 15M 48.54S +02° 48' 05.0"

STF 1182: White and reddish, 1 delta mag, PA due east.  [7.48/8.76, 4.7", 74°] 08H 05M 24.43S +05° 49' 38.9"

It struck me that I was having trouble detecting any close pair of more than 10th magnitude when it was close to a brighter star.  Examples of my negative sightings are A 2527: 8.58/11.85, 2.2”; BU 579: 7.95/12.3, 1.1"; and AGC 2: 7.76/9.73, 1".  I wonder if it was due to light pollution?  The SQML from my back yard is 18.60.  Maybe it's just bad timing with the seeing?  I used my full aperture through the session, so perhaps a mask would have helped?  I have a 5-inch off-axis mask but I rarely use it since my impression is it dims the stars too much and I lose resolution.  I’m interested to know what others think.

TAC Visual / Re: Double Star Epsilon Canis Majoris
« on: March 03, 2017, 12:21:39 PM »
I've not split it myself (though I will try--wish you posted this earlier! I was out the last three nights splitting challenging doubles from my backyard, with the good seeing we've had).  Searching under the common name Adhara turned up plenty of reports of splits, down to 5-6" scopes

Observing Reports / Re: Dinosaur Point what a night, 23 February
« on: March 01, 2017, 11:29:57 AM »
Very nice to get out for a while, even on a weeknight (or especially so, if one's work life is hectic!).  I had no particular plan for observing, so mainly lazed about, sweeping different parts of the sky.

As for sights which stayed in my memory, there are two.  M48 was one.  When I did my Messier survey I used my 50mm finder to record the observation since it was too large to fit comfortably in my 12.5-inch; in the finder it was an unimpressive loose cluster.  At Dino I could just make it out naked eye, so finding it was a snap.  It was very nicely framed in the 10-inch and there was enough aperture to make it shimmer -- spangly bright stars forming a long triangle, with a nice arc of stars through the middle, and many faint stars, many of them doubles, filling out the background.  Enough space around it to reveal it as fairly well detached from its background.  I daresay the view approached the below photo.

A surprise find was NGC 2467, a large HII region & OC grouping in Puppis.  It appeared unfiltered as a large grey round mass with a fainter and larger smear of nebulosity running NW-SW tangentially from it.  Another large and more round cloud sprouted from the brighter mass to the S/SE.  The nebula and field were filled with stars.  The nebula brightened considerably with UHC.  The popular name is Skull and Crossbones Nebula.

Rants and Off Topic / Re: Happy Birthday Jamie Dillon
« on: February 21, 2017, 10:06:48 PM »
Cheers, Jamie! 

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