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Observing Reports / Rustling up some galaxies at the ranch
« Last post by mccarthymark 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.
Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by DDK on April 04, 2017, 07:07:15 PM »
>Maybe such person will just jump in here....

You should be so fortunate.
Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by Mark on April 04, 2017, 06:13:54 PM »
seance with the Potentate

Say who?

Maybe such person will just jump in here....
Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by DDK on April 04, 2017, 06:04:50 PM »
Wags, set yourself up in a seance with the Potentate, he can tell you all about the planning and dates.

And yes come on along, close to 100% chance you have a real good time. And there's lots of music in the daytime, from such stars as Casey, Marko, Chez Dan Dan and DDK. All known by first names.
Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by Mark on April 04, 2017, 10:12:14 AM »
4 nights is great.  I am curious, why not 9/16 start, depart 9/20 - putting the event starting between 3rdQ and NM, with more dark each night?  As is, every night the young moon is up later through the event.

The only real risk is, earlier in Sept means potential for hotter days.  I'm going to do my best to make it this year.  Lots of people I haven't seen in ages.
Observing Reports / Springtime galaxies ...finally!
« Last post by sgottlieb on April 03, 2017, 06:35:12 PM »
Last Tuesday (March 28th), with the new moon observing window starting to close, Mark McCarthy and I observed at Kevin Ritschel's ranch in the hills southeast of Hollister (Willow Springs).  The drive south from Berkeley in the afternoon was pretty brutal due to accidents and slowdowns and the usual 2 ½ drive took me an extra hour.  Still, I arrived about an hour before sunset and had plenty of time to set up my 24-inch and eat dinner while it was getting dark.  Mark arrived about a half hour after me and set up his 20-inch before I was finished.

About a half hour after sunset I started scanning in the west looking for Mercury but instead noticed an extremely thin arc, nearly lost in some low clouds and haze along the western horizon -- it was the crescent moon just 25 hours old!  Quite an exquisitely thin sight and totally unexpected.  About 15 minutes later I found Mercury, which was surprisingly bright and high -- both of us were initially unsure it was Mercury as it was so (relatively) high in the west.  But a quick look in Mark's scope (just a non stellar "blob") confirmed it was Mercury.  Turns out it was close to its maximum elongation (about 10° when we viewed it).

By 9:00 it was fully dark, but we could see some illuminated clouds along the western horizon and northern horizons.  Mark measured an SQM reading of only 21.2 or so (subpar for this site), but I believe it hit 21.5 or 21.6 sometime after midnight.  Early on we took a peek at comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak near the Ursa Major/Draco border in Mark's scope.  This relatively bright and large comet seemed around 8th magnitude and contained a very prominent nucleus.  I also took a quick look at the planetaries NGC 2438 in M46 (Puppis) as well as NGC 2818A in the cluster NGC 2818 (Pyxis).  Neither of these planetaries are physically associated with the associated cluster.

I worked on three different programs in the evening -- each for a couple of hours.  First up was a number of IC galaxies in Gemini, Cancer, Canis Minor and Hydra.   The middle part of the evening was a survey of the central region of Hydra I galaxy cluster, which includes NGCs 3285, 3305, 3307, 3308, 3309, 3311, 3312, 3314, 3315 and 3316.  I took notes on 19 galaxies for a planned article in Sky & Tel next spring.  The cluster is a near twin of the downtown section of the Virgo cluster -- just 3 times as distant!  Late at night I focussed on a number of new (for me) Arp galaxies.  All in all, about 50 objects were viewed over 7 ½ hours.

One interesting galaxy was NGC 3067 in Leo, about 70 million l.y. distant.  The galaxy itself had lots of subtle structure -- logged as fairly bright, moderately large, elongated 5:2 WNW-ESE, mottled elongated central section with a sharp light cut-off (dust lane) on the northern flank.  The eastern end of the galaxy has a lower surface brightness, probably due to dust.  A very faint 16th magnitude star was easily visible 2' north.

This unassuming star is actually a super-luminous quasar (3C 232) at a distance of 5 billion light years and involved in one of Halton Arp's controversies.  A neutral Hydrogen "bridge" appears to connect the quasar and NGC 3067.  Arp proposed the QSR was ejected from NGC 3067, a theory which was rejected by mainstream astronomers.
Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by DDK on April 01, 2017, 12:13:12 AM »
4 nights, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Last year a small set of folks stayed Sunday night, that might be an option this year. Might. Maybe. New Moon is on the Tuesday night.
Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by gdjsky01 on March 31, 2017, 04:43:59 PM »
Does that mean
3 nights or does the 24th count (aka 4 nights)?
TAC Astro Classifieds / For Sale: HighPower 5x Barlow Lens 1.25"
« Last post by ldsheridan on March 31, 2017, 12:33:04 PM »
Hello all.  I bought my first telescope last year and mistakenly bought this 5x Barlow 1.25" which turned out to be way over-powered for my 8" Dobson. I paid $150 at Orion for it and wish to sell it for $100. I live in San Francisco in SOMA.

Not being aware of needing different eyepieces I only have the 25mm that came with the scope. Obviously I was disappointed viewing planets as tiny dots, but now know I need other eyepieces. Am willing to trade the Barlow for an eyepiece/eyepieces which will give me a much better view of the planets or possibly deeper space objects.


Annual Star Parties / Re: Lake San Antonio reopens!
« Last post by John Pierce on March 30, 2017, 03:04:08 PM »
gotta say, those *were* some of the funkiest and most beat up portapotties I've ever seen.
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