Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Deepsky Night of 2008!

Although it’s again clear this evening I was not really planning to observe. I felt a bit tired. Luckily Jan V. called and we decided to go observing together again at the place of Charly. I needed this little push by Jan to go out for the 5th observing session this week. And it was a good thing (thanks Jan!) – the night was again very clear (but cold too). We’ve been observing until 2UT.

Location: Boutersem (Charly)
Equipment: Obsession 18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5,2
Seeing: moderate
Time 23:00Hr UT to 2Hr00 UT
Temperature: -6°C

The objective of the day is again the Herschel II list.

NGC 2253 – open cluster in Camelopardalis.
This object does not exist! Really, see the discussion on:
I was looking at the right place, but there is nothing to see.

NGC 2347; IC 2179 – galaxies in Camelopardalis
NGC 2347 is continuously visible at 127x. It’s an oval spot of 2’ without any core. It’s located on one of the edges of a triangle of 3 bright stars. 15’ north is IC 2179. Also this one is continuously visible at 127x. It’ has a round shape but is a bit smaller than NGC 2347. A faint core is visible.

NGC 7245 – open cluster in Lacerta
At 211x I can see with averted vision the glow of unresolved stars and something like 5 faint stars, on an area on 5’. The cluster is located in rich area of stars. Visibility is better at 316x. A small but nice asterism with a shape of a keystone is located 8’ north of the cluster.

NGC 1207 – galaxy in Perseus
I have tried this one with my 20cm Newton but without success. With the 18” it’s an easy galaxy at 124x. The oval is 2’ long and 1’ wide and contains a faint core.

I still need to do 3 Herschel II objects in Pisces, but it’s going to be a challenge – Pisces is currently located (SW) in an area where there is quite some light pollution. I’m not quite sure this will work but let’s try it out.

NGC 706 – galaxy in Pisces

This is galaxy of mag 12.5. In this light pollution it’s quite tough. I can only see it at 211x and not even continuously (80%) as a oval spot of 2’, without any core. I’m not going to try the galaxies in the neighbourhood because it does not make sense in these conditions.

NGC 718 – galaxy in Pisces
This is galaxy of mag 11.7 In this light pollution it’s quite tough. I can only see it at 211x and not even continuously (80%) as a oval spot of 2’, with a faint core.

NGC 741 – galaxy in Pisces

This is in fact a pair of galaxies (NGC 741 and NGC 742) of mag 13. 3. With this light pollution I can see only 1 round, but rather large oval of 3’ (larger than NGC 718 and NGC 706). It’s probably the combine light of the 2 galaxies, but I cannot make any distinction between the 2.
This is surely an observation to repeat in order to view the smaller NGC 742.

NGC 821 – galaxy in Aries

This one is easy, even at 124x. Located SE to a bright star. The galaxy does not touch this star. It’s 1’ large and contains bright core. Visible with direct vision.

NGC 890 – galaxy in Aries

NGC 890 is at 124x a bright galaxy of 2’ with a striking core. The core is as bright as the brightest star of a little triangle west of the galaxy. I’ve seen this one also with my 20cm Newton. At that time I could not see any core (but nelm was only 4.9)

NGC 925 – galaxy in Triangulum
NGC 925 is a huge galaxy in Triangulum. It’s visible at 84x but the best view is at 84x with Deepsky filter. I estimate the galaxy to be larger than 7’ and as wide as 3’. Three faint stars are close (in or out of the galaxy, difficult to say) to the galaxy. The galaxy is a bit brighter at its centre.

NGC 1012 – galaxy in Aries

NGC 1012, of mag 12.1 is already visible at 84x. At 124x I can see a large almost round spot of 2’ with a large but faint core.

NGC 1156 – galaxy in Aries
Observation at 124x. It’s a strange object of 3’. The shape is not really oval – it looks like a piece of the oval has been cut away. It’s maybe due to the 3 stars which are location the NW edge.

Beta Monocerotis
Observed with the 15” Obsession of Jan. A nice triple star (forgot to note the colours)

Now we go more south to Lepus

NGC 1832 – galaxy in Lepus
Observed at 124x. An oval of 2’ close to a moderate bright star. 2’ no core.

NGC 2196 – galaxy in Lepus

At 211x it’s visible 10% of the time, between 2 faint stars. It’s an almost round spot of 2’.

NGC 2139 – galaxy in Lepus
Very very difficult but I have been able to see it during a 5 short moments as a large spot, both at 211x and at 316x.

The next objects are in Puppis

NGC 2396 – open cluster in Puppis
A very loose open cluster. 10 bright stars in an area of 10’. There is north of the cluster a nice double star with orange and blue colors.

NGC 2414 – open cluster in Puppis
At 211x I see 1 bright and 6 faint stars in an arc of 5’. Located SE of straight line of 4 bright stars.

NGC 2432 – open cluster in Puppis
At 211x I see 15 stars (moderately bright and faint ones) in an arc of 5’, going north south.

I looked for NGC 2525 – a galaxy in Puppis, but I’m not sure I have seen it.

NGC 2467 – open cluster with nebulosity in Puppis.
This object is still very low, less than 10°. I can see at the right location 1 bright star and 10 faint stars. This is the open cluster. I could not see any nebulosity. Observation at 211x. Will need to redo this observation.

At this moment I have enough to see all these faint HII objects. It’s time for some show pieces.

NGC 2438 – planetary nebula in M46 – Puppis
Fantastic at 211x and 316x. This is a large disc! One star on the disc, but off centre is visible at 211x. A 2nd star becomes visible at 316x, still off centre. A bright star is located at the SE edge. With averted vision a ring structure (dark centre) becomes visible.

NGC 2440 – planetary nebula – Puppis
NGC 2440 is another planetary in Puppis. It’s a very bright disc. At 316x I can see a curl on the western edge. Nice object.

Looked also at Eskimo (once more!) and NGC 2371 (idem, once more).
Tried to look for the supernova in M61 but at 2Hr UT the galaxy is still too low .
I have seen the Medusa Nebula through the 15” scope of Jan (with OIII filter).

NGC 3079 – galaxy in Ursa Major.
I ended the night with a fantastic object, NGC 3079, a galaxy in Ursa Major. It’s a long streak of 5’ (elongation around 1:7) with a very bright core of 1” which is offset toward the east. Due to this offset, the galaxy looks bended! Observation at 211x.

This ends a very nice observation night.

162 / 400 Herschel II objects.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Observation session with Jan V on Dec 29, 2008

The 4th observation night but not alone this time, as Jan V. joined me to observe during a few hours. It’s again one of those cold nights, the ServoCat of Jan was indicated -6° at midnight.

Location: Boutersem (Charly)
Equipment: Obsession18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5,2
Seeing: moderate
Time 22:30Hr UT to 0Hr30 UT

Before the real observing work started I had the visit of Charly and Sebastien. Charly, the oncle of Caroline, is the owner of the piece of ground were we are currently observing. They had the opportunity to see a couple of deepsky objects through the 18” Obsession. We started of course with easy objects and went to a bit more difficult targets. They’ve seen M42, M37, M35, M81 and M82 (dark lane seen), M76 (they noticed the peanut shaped) and ended with M34. 7 Messiers in half an hour. Not bad I would say.

Around 23:30 UT I could start observing the Herschel II list. I still have one object to do in Cepheus. But the major part of the evening will be open clusters and nebula’s in Monoceros.

NGC 7139 – planetary nebula in Cepheus
Bad planning, as I had already seen this one in the Provence. Anyway, here at a Nelm 5.2 sky it’s a difficult object. At 211x I can see a very faint disc of 1’, with a faint star at the NE edge. An UHC enhances the visibility. The southern edge seems to be brighter, which is confirmed on the DSS picture.

NGC 1663 – open cluster in Orion
This is a very loose cluster in Orion. Also this one is badly planned, as I had seen it with my 20cm scope earlier this year. I absolutely need to update my HII list! At 124x I see 4 bright stars in an arc. It’s not even sure if these stars are part of the cluster. North of this arc there are 7 faint stars in an area smaller than 10’. No more stars at 211x.

NGC 2170 – reflection nebula in Monoceros
A little round nebula around a bright star, visible at 84x and 211x, without any filter. No glare.

NGC 2182 – reflection nebula in Monoceros
This is not glare, but a nebula around bright star. Visible at 211x.

NGC 2236 – Open cluster in Monoceros
A small open cluster of less than 10’. At 211x 15 faint stars are distributed in a triangular shape. A bright star is at the western edge. An ars of 4 bright stars is located 5’ east of the cluster.

NGC 2245; NGC 2247 – reflection nebula in Monoceros
Close to the Xmas cluster we find a beautiful little nebula. It has a triangular shape. A bright star is located at one of the Northern corner of the triangle. The southern edge is more diffuse than the 2 other edges. Also the brightness is increasing in the direction of the star. Observation at 211x. This nebula reminds me of Hubbles variable nebula. NGC 2247 is located 20’ north of NGC 2245. This one is more difficult. With averted vision a faint nebula of 2’ is visible around a bright star. This is no glare because the view is different when compared to another similar bright stars.

NGC 2252 – open cluster in Monoceros
This is a large open cluster of 20’. With a lot of fantasy, I can see it like a fish with a big tail. There are 20 bright stars and only a few faint ones (211x). This cluster is located just north east of the Rosette nebula.

NGC 2254 – open cluster in Monoceros
A small open cluster with 6 moderately bright stars distributed on an arc. 5’ large. There is a glow of unresolved stars (211x)

NGC 2259 – open cluster in Monoceros
Another small open cluster in Monoceros. In an area of 5’ I can find with averted vision 15 very faint stars (211x). A fun object!

NGC 2302 – open cluster in Monoceros
A loose open cluster with 8 bright stars in an area of 5’. Observation at 211x.

NGC 2309 – open cluster in Monoceros
This is again a loose opne cluster. At 211 I can see 20 stars in an area of 10’. 7 of them are quite bright, the rest are faint.

NGC 2316 – reflection nebula in Monoceros
A cute little nebula. At 316x it’s a small but bright nebula. Il looks like it’s made out of 2 more or less round parts. The centre looks brighter but it could also be a star. Becomes less visible with UHC filter.

Ended this very cold night (-6°C and I’m starting to get real cold) with Eskimo, M81, M82, M107.

146 Herschel II objects.

Observation Dec 28, 2008

The 3rd observation night. It’s colder than last time, somewhat around -5 or -6°, but strangely, I don’t feel it like that. I had less cold this night than the previous time.

Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5,0
Seeing: moderate
Time 21:30Hr UT to 0Hr30 UT

I observed for about 3 hours and then I had to stop due to an issue with the ServoCat. The engines were not responding anymore.

The objective of this night is to continue with Herschel II; have another try at the emission nebula in Auriga, and to stop with some showpieces. But first and Arp to start with.

I started with M37 and M1.

NGC 93 – Arp65 – galaxies in Andromeda
This Arp group contains 2 galaxies, NGC 91 and NGC 93. I could only see NGC 93 but only with a lot of efforts. I can see it only 10% of the time. It’s so faint I cannot determine if it’s round or oval. It’s 1’ and has no core. NGC 91 was not visible. More to the west are 2 easier galaxies: NGC 83 is a round spot of 1’, located close to a small triangle of bright stars. No core. NGC 80 is also a 1’ round spot, but here it seems to have a stellar core. Observations at 211x.

Before going for the Herschel II I tried the emission nebula in Auriga:

IC 405 – flaming star – Auriga
I’m convinced I have seen nebulosity (with the help of an UHC filter) around the bright star located 10’ NW of AU Aurigae. It looked like a triangular shape located NW of this star – see drawing. Most observers are finding nebulosity around AE Aurigae, but I did not see anything except for the glare. I need to develop a technique to notice the difference between glare and nebulosity.

IC410 – emission nebula - Auriga
Again, the C-shape was clearly visible. This is an easy nebula

IC 417 – emission nebula - Auriga
I think I saw some faint nebulosity (with UHC) around the triple star in the middle of the Stock 8 cluster.

Next observations are Herschel II objects.

NGC 410; NGC 414; NGC 407 – galaxies in Pisces
NGC 410 is not visible at 124x. I need 211x to see it as a round nebula of 2’, without core. It’s quite easy at this power. SW is NGC 407, an elongated galaxy (3:1) of 2’. There is not core. Only 20% of the time visible. On the other side of NGC 410 is NGC 414. This is an easier target than NGC 407 although it’s a smaller one with its 1’. Here also no core is visible.

NGC 428 – galaxy in Cetus
At 211x I can see this stand alone but large nebula whose shape is difficult to determine. Visible only 20% of time.

NGC 514 – galaxy in Pisces
Again a stand-alone galaxy, this time in Pisces. Also this one is difficult as I can see it only 20% of the time at 211x. It’s a large round nebula of 3’, without core.

NGC 636 – galaxy in Cetus
This is a very easy galaxy, visible with direct vision even at 124x. It’s 3’ large, round but has no core.

NGC 660 – galaxy in Pisces
NGC 660 is a huge galaxy of 6’ and very easy to see. It’s oval shaped and has no core.

NGC 665; IC 156; IC 154– galaxy in Pisces
This is a little group of 3 galaxies in Pisces which has not yet been logged in . NGC 665 is relatively easy at 211x as it is continuously visible. It’s an oval of 2’ with a core. IC 156 is located NE of NGC 665 and is a small round spot of 1’. A bit further north is IC 154 which is extremely difficult. I could see at 316x only a few times an elongated smudge of light. A moderate bright star is located at the southern edge. Check the DSS picture, its quite nice!

NGC 1184 – galaxy in Cepheus
NGC 1184 is one of the few galaxies in Cepheus. At 124x it’s visible with direct vision. It’s an elongated nebula of 2’ (elongation 3:1) with a bright core. See also DSS picture for this nice galaxy.

NGC 1175; 1177; IC 284 – galaxies in Perseus
A trio of galaxies in Perseus which is located 2° NW from Perseus A cluster. NGC 1175, which is an easy one, is visible as oval spot of 2’ at 124x and has a faint core. NGC 1177 is very difficult. I’ve seen it only a few moments at 316x. It’s smaller than 1’. IC 284 is visible half of the time at 211x. It’s a large oval of 5’ and has no core.

NGC 4291; 4319; 4386 – galaxies in Draco
NGC 4291 is a very nice object. It’s a bright round spot of 2’. There is a faint star on the nebula, and another one at the western edge. I did not notice the 2nd star at the western edge. It’s located very close to a small triangle of bright stars. NCG 4319, 5’ SE of NGC 4291 is an oval of 3’. NGC 4386, mote to the NE, is bright oval of 2’, visible with direct vision. The core is visible too.

I ended with Eskimo nebula, and NGC 2371, another planetary in Gemini. I could see the central star (I did not notice this last time).

At this time the Servocat was not functioning anymore so I decided to stop. It was once more a very nice observation session.

I have seen 136 Herschel II objects.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Observation December 26, 2008

The 2nd clear night in a row. Transparency is a bit less than yesterday but it’s still OK with nelm of 5.0. It’s however much colder. I guess it’s -4°C., which is doable for a few hours.

Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5,0
Seeing: moderate
Time 19Hr UT to 24Hr UT

I started with M37, as usually during winter time.
Spend some time looking for the nebula in M45, but except some glare around the brightest stars I could not see any hint of it.
M76 is a fantastic object. Lot’s of details to see, as well as some brightness differences. Could see the brightest part of the outer halo.

Cat’s Eye and IC 4677 – planetary nebula in Draco
Tried to look for IC 4677 which is according to some sources a galaxy, and to other sources a bright patch of the outer shell of the Cat’s Eye. After looking at the DSS picture I’m choosing for the 2nd option. It’s a difficult object in mag 5.0 sky. I have seen it a little while at 211x. It reacts positively to an UHC filter, as now I could see it during 10% of the time.

Now we go for HII objects.

NGC 7419 – open cluster in Cepheus
Small concentrated cluster containing 10 stars in an area of 7’. It’s located in line of 2 bright stars. At 211x 20 stars are visible; many of them are quite faint. Cute little cluster.

NGC 7600 – galaxy in Aquarius
124x: oval smudge of 2’ with a small but bright core. Averted vision required. Visible 50% of time.

NGC 7785 – galaxy in Pisces
124x: This is an easy object. It’s located in the middle of a triangle of 3 bright stars. NGC 7785 is an oval of 2’ and has a faint core.

I did not found NGC 7832, galaxy in Pisces

NGC 23 and NGC 26 – galaxies in Pegasus
NGC 23 is very easy. I can see it with direct vision at 124x. It’s a smudge of 2’ with a bright core. A faint star is located close to the eastern edge. NGC 26, located 10’ SE of NGC 23 is much more difficult. Only 20% of the time visible at 124x. It’s a smudge of 1’. It becomes a bit better visible at 211x.

NGC 125; 126; 128 – group of galaxies in Pisces
NGC 125 is the Herschel II object. With averted vision at 124x it’s a small smudge, smaller than 1’. A nice double star is located south of the galaxy. NGC 128 is a nice edge on galaxy of 3’, with an elongation of 4:1. No core. NGC 126 is difficult. I could only see it a few times at 211x. NGC 127 and 130 were not visible.
Worthwhile to redo!

NGC 151 – galaxy in Cetus
A large object of 3’ but only visible 10% of the time, at 124x. The visibility increases a lot at 211x. NGC 163 which is located SE of NGC 151 was not visible.

NGC 182; 186; 193; 194; 198; 199; 200; 204 – group of galaxies in Pisces
NGC 198 is the Herschel II object. It’s oval an easy to see at 124x. NGC 200, located 7’ north, os a faint large oval of 2’, visible at 211x. No core. Continuing north are more galaxies. NGC 194 is easy to see at 211x. It’s round, 1’ and has a faint core. NGC 199 is more difficult. It’s an oval visible only 20% of the time. More north is NGC 193, an oval galaxy without core close to a faint star. Visible half of the time. NGC 204 is located east of NGC 193 and is also a bit smaller than NGC 193. No core. NGC 186 is more to the west. This oval of 1’ without core is almost continuously visible. 15’ east of NGC 198 is NGC 182, a very faint galaxy. NGC 208, west of the Herschel II object was not visible. NGC 202 and 203 were not on may finder chart, so I did not look for it L

NGC 217 – galaxy in Cetus
NGC 217 is an elongated galaxy of 2’ (elongation 3:1) without core. At 124x it’s visible 80% of time. This galaxy has not yet been observed in dslog.

NGC 315; 311; 318 – galaxy in Cetus
NGC 315 is a an easy object. At 124x it’s round, has core, and is larger than 2’. NGC 311 is also visible at 124, but the core appears only at 211x. Is 1’ long. NGC 318 is a stellar object at 211x located east of a faint star.

Up to here the faint Herschel II objects. It’s time to do something else. I wanted to redo some observations in Auriga.

IC 410 – emission nebula in Auriga
I looked at this one also yesterday. The C-shape is very clear. The C is wider and brighter at its west side. Nice object.

IC 405 – flaming star – Auriga: looked for a while, but could not see any nebulosity, apart from the glare around the brighter stars.

IC 417 – emission nebula in Auriga
Yesterday I was not very sure I have seen the nebula. Today, I still cannot confirm at 100% Maybe I have seen some nebulosity (with UHC) but it’s far from being sure.

NGC 2392 (Eskimo) – planetary in Gemini
I wrote it yesterday that I need to look for the concentric ring within the inner disc. (I also wrote to look for the colors, but I forgot to do this). Well, I’ve seen the concentric ring. So there 3 distinct area’s: The outer halo, a triangular shaped inner disc, and a concentric ring, and of course the central star. Those 3 areas are best visible at 316x with filter. But without filter it remains slightly visible. During a few moments I thought I could see some structure in the halo (2 dark area’s, each of them ¼ of a circle).

NGC 2371/72 – planetary nebula in Gemini
A double lobed planetary nebula (peanut shaped). It’s quite impressive in the 18” at 211x with UHC filter. The SW lobe is the brightest one and contains a bright area. The NE lobe also contains at its eastern edge a brighter area. The centre (the area between the 2 lobes) is dark. Nice object.

I’ve been spending almost 4 hours in the cold, time to get inside. Quite glad of this evening session.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Deespky Observation on Dec 25, 2008

It has been a while (Oct 22) that I have been observing. Bad weather and other things on my mind have been the root cause. Finally, today Dec 25 it’s a very clear night.

Location: Boutersem (Belgium)
Equipment: Obsession 18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5,2
Seeing: moderate
Time 22Hr UT to 2 Hr UT

I started by observing M37 in Auriga. I like this cluster very much.

M1 - supernova remanent in Taurus
Next one is M1. Even with the 18” this object is quite disappointing. The shape is quite obvious with sharp edges and the centre is brighter than the edges. But there is no structure to see in this large object. I see no stars superimposed on M1.

NGC 1514 - planerary nebula in Taurus
NGC 1514 is a planetary nebula in Taurus. Without filter this object is almost not visible, but with filter, wow, this becomes a splendid view.

M77 - galaxy in Cetus
211x: M77 has a large core surrounded by a faint disc. It’s slightly oval. The disc does not reach until the bright star located east of M77. During one moment I had the impression to see faint spiral arms in the halo.

NGC 1055 - galaxy in Cetus
This galaxy is located NW from M77. At 124x I can see it as an elongated object of 4’. It is much thicker in the middle. At 211x the northern edge appears sharper than the southern one. It’s probably due to the dark lane.

NGC 1072 - galaxy in Cetus
This galaxy is located between M77 and NGC 1055. At 211 I can see a star and nebula during 20% of the time.

NGC 1090; 1087; 1094 - galaxies in Cetus
This trio is located south east from M77. At 211 NGC 1090 looks like an oval (elongation 3:1) of 2’. Visible 50% of the time. No core. NGC 1094 is an easy object. It’s a little oval smaller than 1’. It’s continuously visible. NGC 1087 is a large smudge, almost round, without any structure.

Hickson 16 (NGC 833; 835; 838; 839) – galaxies in Cetus
Hickson 16 is a quite easy group of galaxies in Cetus. At 124x I can see 3 members. NGC 835 is an easy object. NGC 835 is visible 50% of the time and NGC 829 is only now and then visible. The 4th member, NGC 833 becomes visible at 211x. At this power, I can see the core of NGC 835. NGC 839 remains difficult.

After these objects in Cetus I decided to go for some objects that Demelza described in her December targets.

NGC 1501: planetary nebula in Cameleopardalis
This is a splendid object at 211x. The central star is obvious. The edges are sharp. The northern edge appears brighter. The disc contains dark areas. Next time I need to see if I can see some color in there.

IC 3568: planetary nebula in Cameleopardalis
IC 3568 is another planetary in Cameleopardalis but much smaller than NGC 1501. It’s only 6” big. I can see it as a round bright little disc, close to a mag 13 star. Observation at 211x. No more details with a UHC filter.

IC 410 – emission nebula in Auriga
The nebula is well visible at 124x with an UHC filter. It’s a big one filling almost completely the field of view. I guess this one is larger than 25’. It looks like a C. Some of its edges are sharp; some other ones are more diffuse. The western part is brighter than the rest.

Stock 8 and IC 417 - open cluster and emission nebula in Auriga.
I tried to look for IC 417, another nebula in Auriga. First I thought it was some nebula around Phi Aur, a beautiful orange star. But what I saw was nothing else than glare. IC 417 is located in Stock 8, which is a quite loose open cluster of 20 stars located in an area of 20’. It difficult to say where the cluster starts or ends because it is so loose. Did I see IC 417? Certainly not without any filter. I have guessed it at 124x with an UHC filter, but I could not confirm it. Will need to repeat this observation.

Abell 8 – planetary in Auriga: not found

K 2-1 – planetary nebula in Auriga
The first successful observation in Deepskylog. The object is visible at 127x with UHC filter. Difficult to say what kind of shape it is. It looks irregular or oval and must be at least 2' big. Averted vision is of course needed to see it. 50% of the time visible. At least on star is visible on the nebula, and some others very close to it.

NGC 2242 – planetary nebula in Auriga
This planetary is not visible at 127x. I can see it at 211x as a very small disc. Averted vision is required to see this mag 15.2 object. An UHC filter gives a positive effect.

NGC 2392 (Eskimo) – planetary nebula in Gemini
A marvelous object at 316 with UHC filter. I could see the typical Eskimo image. An inner bright disc, with central star, is surrounded by a large but fainter outer shell. The inner disc has a kind of triangular shape, which is so typical on pictures of the nebula. Next time I need to look for colors and for the concentric ring within the inner disc.

M35 and NGC 2158 – open clusters in Gemini
Marvelous. For the first time I can completely resolve NGC 2158. At 211 I can see something like 20 stars in this little OC.

Rosette – emission nebula in Monoceros.
Again, marvelous! I can clearly see the nebula cover its complete circumference. The background of the centre is completely dark and filled with many stars of NGC 2244, the open cluster. The nebula is wider and brighter at its northern edge. I can see many brightness is differences in the nebula. To see its full splendor, this object should be seen with an eyepiece that provides a larger field of view.

Xmas tree – could not see the nebulosity.

I continued the night with some classics such as M42 and M43. Again these are splendid objects in the 18” scope. M42 was clearly mottled and contained many details. Also M43 was spectacular. Also spend some time on the flame nebula (NGC 2024). Also I tried to look for the Horsehead nebula with an UHC filter. I had the impression to see some nebula (not the Horsehead itself) but cannot confirm it.

NGC 2359 (Thor’s helmet) – emission nebula in Canis Major
The object was still low in the sky, but nevertheless it was already nice to look at. The typical shape was clearly to see at 211x and UHC filter. The nebula consists of 2 segments; the southern one is an elongated patch going west to East. The northern segment is almost a full circle. The northern part of the circle is the brightest one.

I ended the night with M82 (beautiful), M81 and M97.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Observations May 2008

It has been a while I have been posting some observations, but it does not mean I have been inactive. On the contrary, I have been observing a few times during May with my Obsession 18".
Here thhey are. Let's start with Friday May 2, 2008

Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: less than 5.0
Seeing: moderate

I decided first to increase a bit the pointing accuracy of the telescope. Argo Navis has a feature to do so with “Alt ref”. It means that you fine tune the angle at which the scope is aiming at Zenith. After a few alignments I seems that this angle is 89°71.

I started to look for M3 and M51 which is of course beautiful.

Hickson 44 – galaxies in Leo
At 127x (this is the 16mm eyepiece) I can see NGC 3193 with direct vision. It contains a stellar core, is almost round and I estimate it to be 2’ long. NGC 3190 is an elongated galaxy with a core – it’s 4’ long. I could not see the 2 other galaxies.

M100 – galaxie in Coma.
Did not really take notes of M100, but at 127x I could see NGC 4311 which is located near a double star. No core visible in the galaxy. NGC 4379 is a round smudge of 3’ and like the other I can’t see any core.

Next day I could also get the socpe out to observe . So here is what I saw on Saturday May 3, 2008

Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: better than 5.0
Seeing: moderate

M106 – galaxie in Ursa Major
This galaxy contains many HII regions which I wanted to look for. NGC 5471 is the brightest one and is located at the east side of M106. It is clearly visible at 84x as a round smudge. With an UHC filter NGC 5471 becomes very bright and is visible with direct vision. NGC 5477 is not visible at 84x.NGC 5461 and 5462, also at the east side of M106, is now and then visible with averted vision (84x with UHC). They seems larger than NGC 5471 but are much fainter. At the other side of the galaxy a few other HII regions becomes visible at 127x and with the use of an UHC filter. NGC 5450 and 5047 is visible as a long smudge. I can see it almost continuously with averted vision. NGC 5455, located at the south of M106 is a small smudge of light, not continuously visible.

Hickson 44 – galaxies in Leo
Yesterday I could see only 2 objects of Hickson 44, today I can add a 3rd one which is NGC 3185. At 211x NGC it’s a faint large oval smudge with a stellar core. Averted vision is required to see the galaxy. NGC 3193 is almost round and contains a large bright core. NGC 3190 is an elongated nebula with a core. It’s in same FOV as 3193. The 4th galaxy was not visible.

Hickson 61 – galaxies in Coma
The 2nd Hickson group of the evening; At 84x I can see easily NGC 4169 as an oval of 2’. NGC 4174 is visible now and then, with it’s 1’ it’s smaller than the previous one.
At 127x I can see continuously both galaxies and in addition NGC 4175 becomes visible as an elongated patch of light. The elongatin direction is NW-SE.
NGC4 173, the other elongated galaxy of Hickson 61 is not visible.

Coma Cluster (NGC 4874)
This is an area with a huge number of galaxies. At 127x is can see: NGC 4889: almost round – 2’ with a stellar core. NGC 4898 – round object less than 1’ large, no core. NGC 4874: round, fainter than 4889 – 1’ and again no core. At 211x a few other galaxies becomes visible: NGC 4869 – round – visible once in a while. NGC 4864 – round and also visible once in a while. NGC 4860 and 4865: these are 2 difficult objects – serious averted vision is required to see them – they are both round and around 0,5’ small. NGC 4886 is probably seen too.

NGC 4147 – globular in Coma
At 211x I can see some stars at the edges of the globular. The core is granular.

M97 – owl nebula in Ursa Major
At 316x and OIII filter I can see one eye, maybe the 2nd one. It’s a large disc with a brighter area at the east side.

M108 – galaxie in Ursa Major
Located near the owl. The dust lane is visible.

M57 – planetary in Lyra
Marvelous – the centre is filled with faint haze. Central star is not visible.

M13 –globular in Hercules
What can I say – this is breath taking.

Other globulars were M92 and M56. M92 is also a fabulous object in the 183.

This ends a very nice observation session.

2 days later it was once more clear. Monday May 5, 2008:

Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5,3
Seeing: moderate

Neighborhood of M99 – galaxy in Coma
NGC 4262, located north of M99 is an easy object at 84x. At 211x it is round with a very bright core.
M99 itself is a large object. It has a halo of 4’ which contains a core of an irregular shape. The core is around 2’ large. The halo seems circular and of equal brightness. I suspect a spiral arm at the west side.
IC 781 suspected at 84x but for sure seen at 211x. A smudge of 2’
NGC 4298, located east of M99 is a large oval at 84x. It’s 3’ and no core is visible. It’s located west of a faint star.
NGC 4302 is visible now and then. It’s an elongated object similar to a “cigar”. Maybe 2 times larger as NGC 4298.
At 211x NGC 4298 seems to have a core. A bright patch is visible in the galaxy. NGC 4302 remains equal in brightness.

Neighborhood of M100 – galaxy in Coma
At 211x M100 has a large core of 2’ and is irregular of shape. The core is surrounded by a halo of 6’ where 2 hints of spiral arms are visible.
NGC 4328; east of M100 is not continuously visible. It’s too faint to defite its shape.
NGC 4322 was not visible.

NGC 4567 – Siamese Twins in Virgo
Beautifull! I still remember this when I saw it in the Provence with my 20cm. Now the view is totally different and better. I see easily 2 large ovals coming together in a V-shape. Both have a core. The eastern galaxy (NGC 4568) is the largest one.
In the same fov I can see NGC 4564 as an almost round nebula with a large halo and a bright core.
West of the twins is NGC 4528 which is, at 82x an almost round smudge of light of 1’ with a core. It’s located next to a straight line of 4 stars. A bright orange stars is also visible. At 211x a star superimposed on the core becomes visible.
IC 3499 is not visible at 82x but rather at 211x. It’s an oval of 1, has no core and it needs averted vision to see it now and then.

M64 – blackeye galaxy in Coma
The dust line is visible with direct vision and is clearly not straight line.

M104 – Sombrero galaxy in Virgo
The dust line is clearly visible as a dark straight area, but the nebula south of this line is not visible. Maybe because the galaxy is already quite low in the sky.

And again, the next day it was clear. Unbelievable for Belgian standards.
Tuesday May 6, 2008

Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5,0
Seeing: moderate

NGC 2903 –galaxy of m9.0 in Leo
Large nebula of 8’ with a big bright core. The halo at the NE side is brighter and longer (211x)

NGC 2916 –galaxy of m12.1 in Leo
Is located close to NGC 2903. With averted vision this is almost a round object of 1’. No core. Located north of a faint star

Copeland Septet –galaxies in Leo
Copeland Septet is not visible at 84x. At 211 I can see 2 galaxies. NGC 3753 is almost continuously visible. It’s a round smudge without core. Perhaps NGC 3756 is visible; The other one, NGC 3746 is visible 50% of the time.

NGC 3758 –galaxy of m? in Leo
Located south of Copelands Septet. At 211x this is a round smudge of 1’ without any core. It’s located between 2 moderately bright stars.

NGC 3808 –galaxy of m? in Leo
This galaxy is located 50’ NE of Copelands septet. A round smudge, with averted vision visible for 50% of the time. No core.

PGC 83477 – galaxy of m in Leo
This galaxy is located 10’ South of Copelands Septet. At 211x this galaxy is almost continuously visible with averted vision.

You would think this is enough. No, 2 days later again a clear night. Thursday May 8, 2008

Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5,0
Seeing: moderate

Since now I’m equipped with a very dark cloth to protect myself from streetlights. It’s working very well if can avoid dew on the eyepiece

Copeland Septet – galaxies in Leo
With the dark cloth I’m trying once more Copeland Septet. This time I can see 6 galaxies (316x), whereas I could see only 4 the previous time. NGC 3753 is easy. NGC 3750 and 3754 are not continuously visible. NGC 3746 is now and then visible but rather obvious. NGC 3748 and 3751 are very difficult objects. It’s visible for maybe 10% of the time, but I’m certain to have seen it.

Abell 1367 – galaxies in Leo
This is a group in Leo containing many galaxies. At 84x I can see 4 galaxies.
- NGC 3861 is almost round, 2’ and contains no core.
- NGC 3842 located close to a bright star – round – easy – 2’ large. The core is visible at 211x.
- NGC 3837 is also easy to see. It’s 1’ and again no core. A core is visible at 211x.
- NGC 3860 is not always continuously visible. It’s round and is 2’ long. I could not see NGC 3860A, even at 211x.
At 211x more galaxies become visible:
- NGC 3845 is visible with averted vision – no core.
- UGC 6697 is also visible, without any core.
- NGC 3840 is very difficult – looks like a round object.
- NGC 3844 is now and then visible as a elongated smudge but without any core. The elongation is NE-SW.
- PGC 36589 is a round object smaller than 1’. No core and not continuously visible.

M97 – owl nebula – Uma
At 211x and without filter only 1 eyes is visible. The central star is however visible at this magnification. With an UHC filter the 2nd eye becomes visible. The 2nd eye is a difficult observation in mag 5.0 skies. Anyway, the view is really great, some parts of the nebula is brighter than the rest.

OK time for a break now.

Friday May 23, 2008

Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 4.7
Seeing: moderate

Today it’s not perfectly clear but it has been a while I observed. I'm motivated enough to take everything out in the garden.

NGC 3079 – galaxie of m10.9 in Uma
Nice galaxy of 5’ long. 2 faint stars are located next to the galaxy. Another star at the northern tip. The centre looks a bit more larger. Searched for NGC 3073 (m 13.4) but could not see it.

Arp 313: NGC 3995 (m12.4) – 3994 (m12.7) – 3991 (m13.1) – galaxies in Uma
This is a nice trio (arp 313) of galaxies in Uma. At 84x I can see only NGC 3995 and NGC 3994. NGC 3991 becomes visible at 211x. NGC 3995 is the largest one (2’). It is oval and has no core. It’s continuously visible with averted vision. NGC 3994 is smaller but brighter than 3995. It’s round and has a bright core. I can see it continuously with direct vision. NGC 3991 is almost round and has no core. It’s a large as NGC 3394 but I can see it only 80% of the time. Those galaxies are located east of a bright start which is slightly orange.

NGC 4013 – galaxy of m11.2 in Uma
It’s a nice galaxie which is more than 4’ long. It seems to have a bright core but in reality it’s a foreground star. The dustlane was not visible.

Closed the observation session with M57; M13, M56.

I'm getting more and more used to the Obsession. Hopefully the next clear night is not long from now.

Clear Skies


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Observation March 30, 2008

This is my first observation report with my Obsession 18”. It will contain a list of observed objects with minimal explanations, as I’m still learning to use the scope and have not yet the patience to write everything down.

Location: Boutersem (Belgium)
Equipment: Obsession 18”
Eyepieces: 24mm and 16mm - Powermate 2,5x
Limit Magnitude 5.0
Seeing: moderate
Time from 21:00 UT to 24:00 UT

M51 – galaxy in Canes Venatici
The 2 spiral arms are well visible at 127x (16mm). I can see 3 stars superimposed on the galaxy. This is a very nice DSO

M101 – galaxy in Ursa Major
At 127x I can see several (at least 3) HII regions. Not sure if I have seen the spiral arms (as such). I need to learn to look for details and shapes, something I’m not used too. With my 8” scope the aim was to find faint objects – it was rarely the case that lot’s of details were visible. I have to acquire a new skill!

NGC 4631 (The Whale) and NGC 4656 (the Hockeystick) – galaxies in Canes Venatici
Magnificent. At 127x the whale takes more than half of the FOV of 38’. The shape is clearly recognisable. Also baby whale (NGC 4627) is clear visible as a “large” objects.
Same comment concerning the shape for the Hockeystick. I can clearly see the shape like on photographs. The brightness is not equal across the object. There is a brighter zone at the NW side.

M3 – globular in Canes Venatici
Again, a show piece. At 211x (24mm + 2,5 Barlow). Stars are well resolved, also in the core.

M64 – Blackeye – galaxy in Coma
At 127x the dark lane is clearly visible, even with direct vision.

M53 and NGC 5053 – globulars in Coma
M53 is a very nice object. Again plenty of stars visible at 211x. NGC 5053 is a difficult object. I have seen this one with my 8” in the Provence. Here with my 18” I can hardly see it.

NGC 4565 – edge on galaxy in Coma
Again a showpiece. At 127x the dust lane is visible. Again not easy for me, as this is the kind of things I need to learn to look for. But I can see it already better than 1 week ago.

Markarian Chain – galaxies in Coma
I really like this chain of galaxies. Today’s objective is just to find as many galaxies as possible, without really noting downs the details I could see. So here is the list that was visible at 127x: NGC 4305, 4306, m84, m86, 4402, 4387, IC3303, 1388, 4413, 4425, 4438, 4435, 4461, 4458, 4473, 4479, 4477, 4506. So 18 galaxies! There are probably more visible at higher power, but that’s something for next time.

NGC 4874 – Coma Galaxy cluster
At 127x I could see 4874, 4869, 4889 and 4898. Wanted to see more of them, but the Argo Navis had an issue, and tracking was disable. So I stopped observing at 00:00.

This was my 5th observation session. It’s really a good scope. Also the GOTO is working well as long as the 2 alignment stars are in the neighbourhood of the objects you’d like to see. But as aligning is a very quick process (much quicker than on my previous scope) it’s really not an isse.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"2nd" light with the 18" Obsession

Yesterday evening I had my "2nd light" with the Obsession. Again a nice success, as the tracking and the goto were performing well this time. The issue was just the ArgoNavis cable, it was not fully plugged in the ServoCat. So problem solved - all works well.

The speed of the Goto is amazing. Much faster than with my 20cm Newton. Also, with a Dob you don't have the issue of crossing the meredian, something I continuously faced with my Newton on a German mount.

The accuracy of the goto is not bad, all object were in a FOV of 30'. But it can still improve with some of the AN functionality. Something I will have to find out by reading the manual.

I'm still not very confident in moving the scope fully assembled (with UTA). I use the red spring clamps to hold everything tight, but I'm not yet sure if this is totally OK. For now I prefer to observe close to my home. But there I have quite some issues with a street light. Once I'm more confident I'll move at the back of my garden, it's much darker there.

Today I had also dew on the secondary. I did not fix the dew heater yet (not sure which type of glue I need) but I feel the pressure now to do it quickly. Unfortunalty, the whole weekend I'm out, so it will be something for in 10 days.

So far the technical stuff. In terms of observation I limited myself to the classical objects (using goto) such as M3, M51 (spiral arms visible), M81/82, the Whale, M65/M66, M65, Markarian Chain and BlackEye. Naked Eye Limit Magn was 4,5, maybe 5.0 at the end of the session.
After something more than an hour observing clouds were appearing (at the same time as the dew ...).

As a conclusion: everything works well (it's a relief), and now I need to increase the observing comfort and start to migrate at the back of my garden.

Ckear skies to all of you


Sunday, April 20, 2008

First light with Obsession 18"

Last week Thursday my 18" Obsession arrived at home. I ordered it directly from Obsession. I have spend a few hours to assemble it, and had kind of a first light on Friday. I could see the moon behind the clouds. As such not very spectacular, but it was my first look through my Obsession.

On Sunday I installed the ServoCat and ArgoNavis. And finally, in the evening it was more or less clear for an hour or so. At least clear enough to test the scope. And it was a success.

The first object was Saturnus. Woow - so much bigger than with a 20 cm scope. Then Mizar-Alkor. What a difference with my previous scope. Star images where pin point sharp.

Then I've set up the Argo-Navis. It worked!. M3 was really amazing - so many stars (it's not even completly dark). Then M81, M82 (woow). M36, M37 (very nice) and M36. At that moment the sky was completly covered by clouds. I still wanted to hunt M3 in an open area, but sadly one of the encoders was slipping.

What did not work was tracking. The scope was not tracking the objects, so I had to adjust manually. I need to go through the manual to see how this works.

Anyway, It was a successfull first light. I did not expect the Argo-Navis would work that easily from the start.

Clear Sky


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Observation February 10, 2008

It’s again a nice sky this evening. I wanted to look back to the supernova in NGC 524. Yesterday evening I was looking at the wrong place. So this time I printed out a picture of NGC 524 together with its surrounding stars and the supernova. I could first not see it but after a while, when my eyes were well adapted to the dark, I found it at 156x. It was visible for around 20% of the time; this to say that it was not that easy. It's the first supernova I see !!

After this nice achievement I decided to do some planetary nebulas.

Location: Boutersem (Belgium)
Equipment: Celestron Advanced Newton 20cm F5
Eyepieces: 24mm and 16mm - Powermate 2,5x
Limit Magnitude 5.0 to 5.3
Seeing: moderate
Time from 19:00 UT to 21:00 UT

IC 3568 – baby Eskimo – planetary nebula of mag 10.4 in Camelopardalis
At 64x I can see a small disc. The object forms a triangle with 2 other stars which are fainter than the nebula. It reacts very well on a OIII filter. Ay 154x the disc becomes very obvious. I can see a bright core surrounded by a dimmer edge. No more details with a OIII filter.

PK 147+4.1 - planetary nebula of 10” of mag 13.8 in Camelopardalis
Not visible at 64x nor at 154x. But with an UHC filter it becomes visible after a while (154x), so the nebula reacts with a slow response time to a filter. I can see now and then a small disc. Afterward I could see the nebula also without filter.

PK 147-2.1 - planetary nebula of 7” of mag 13.4 in Perseus
Not visible at 64x nor at 154x without filter. At 154x with UHC I can see a stellar object with averted vision. It’s visible 80% of the time.

PK 131-5.1 - planetary of mag 14.8 in Perseus: not visible at any magnification

PK 198-6.1 - planetary of mag 12.2 in Orion: not visible

PK 197-14.1 - planetary of 57” of mag 13.9 in Orion
At 104x with UHC it’s visible 50% of the time as a very faint disc.

NGC 2022 - planetary of 32” of mag 11.5 in Orion
I can see a disc but the ring (so the dark centre) is not visible (154x)

Flame nebula
This was like yesterday well visible at 64x with UHC filter.

This was 2 hours well spend. Happy to have seen 4 new planetary nebulas (I had observed NGC 2022 already once in 2005)

Clear skies

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Deepsky observation on Feb 9, 2008 with Jan Vanautgaerden

According to the weather forecast, Feb 9, 2008 was the warmest day ever on a Feb 9 in Belgium. It was indeed a very nice day with temperatures around 16,5°C.

The night was clear too, although a lot colder. I have been observing together with Jan Vanautgaerden, a very active deepsky observer from Belgium. Jan brought his 15” Obsession with him (lucky me). We have been observing in the fields of Boutersem, on a place where we are not bothered by streetlight and where on top the sky is completely free towards the south.

Transparency was very good, probably close to mag 5.5. I have been observing with my 20cm Newton but did not take notes this time. So all this is based on memory …

All observations are with the 20cm except otherwise noted.

NGC 524 – galaxy of mag 10.3 in Pisces
We started by observing NGC 524 where a supernova has been detected. We used the 20cm scope, not the Obsession because it was not yet installed. Unfortunately, I thought the supernova was in the centre of the galaxy. Apart from the core nothing was visible there. The truth is that the supernova is lying more NE from the visible edge. Need to repeat this for next time. The galaxy itself is not that easy at 64x. 154x is the optimal magnification. Now the galaxy is an easy target, oval and the core is visible. BTW, NGC 524 is a Herschel I (one) object.

I tried to do some Herschel II objects in Eridanus, but nothing was visible.

NGC 2366 – galaxy of mag 10.5 in Camelopardalis
This is also a Herschel II object. A few weeks ago I was not able to see it from my garden, but this time I got it. Not at 64x but at 104x. It’s a long smudge SE of a faint star.

I have to admit that Herschel II list is not getting me really motivated for the moment. It’s really too much at the edge of what I can see with my scope. It’s nice for a while, but not for every night. So what I’ll probably do is to continue Herschel II one in a while between some other observations. So I decided to continue with some other stuff.

Perseus A cluster – NGC 1275 – galaxy in Perseus
NGC 1275 is easily visible at 104x. Also NGC 1278 was visible. I could not detect NGC 1272.

NGC 2359 – Thor’s Helmet – Canis Major
This one I have observed with my own scope and with the 15” Obsession. Thor’s Helmet is a favourite object of Jan. It’s a real nice object which is not really known, maybe because M42 is in the close neighbourhood. With my scope I could almost see a complete circle, together with a part going from east to west. This was of course much more obvious in the 15” scope, where the complete disc became visible. Observation was done with an OIII filter.

NGC 2362 - open cluster in Canis Major
This is a very nice cluster lying around the bright star Tau Cma. Lot’s of fainter stars visible.

We tried to look to Sirius B with the Obsession. Sirius B is around 8” separated from Sirius A. It was not visible. We did not try that hard, though.

Another double star is Rigel, also at 8”. This was separated at 154x with the 20cm scope. Forgot to note the colours.

Orion Nebula M42 and the Trapezium
A beautiful object in the Obsession. We could see with this scope the 6 stars in the trapezium. But also with the 20cm scope we managed to see the 6 stars at 156x. I had seen already 5 stars with my scope but never 6 stars. Mission accomplished today!

NGC 1999 – emission nebula in Orion
Special object. Impressive with the Obsession. A bright circular part, a darker centre, and again a brighter part. With the 20cm scope we could see the 2 bright parts at 154x.

NGC 2024 – Flame nebula in Orion
Observed with the Obsession. Quite strange because it was better visible without filter than with filter. The opposite was true for the 20cm scope. Where the two parts were visible with an UHC filter

NGC 2237 - Rosette Nebula in Monoceros
Again, beautiful with the Obsession. Almost the whole ring was visible with an OIII filter. But also without the aid of any filter, the object was visible. Here also I could see it easily with filter with my scope. Several parts of the ring became apparent. I’ve never seen it so well with my scope. Truly a very good observing session.

NGC 2264 - Xmas Tree in Monoceros
I never succeeded to see the nebula with my scope, but Jan has already seen this one in La Palma. So he knows well where to look, ie at the base and East of it. The issue with the base is the presence of glare, so we were never sure if we have seen some nebula there. We think we have seen some nebula at the east side but I don’t think both of us would put our hand in the fire for it.

Now we went to the other side of the sky, direction Ursa Major

M81 – M82 – galaxies in Ursa Major
M81 and M82 are impressive in the Obsession. We tried to look for the spiral arms of M81 but without success. M82 was also not bad at all in the 20cm. The dark lane was easy.

M92 – planetary in Ursa Major
One eye visible with the 20cm (without filter). It’s very nice in the Obsession where more structure is visible. Probably 2 eyes visible.

We aimed also the 15” to the trio of galaxies in Leo (M66, M65, NGC 3628). Amazing! We ended the night around 1am with observations of M51 (the spiral arms were visible in the 15”), the Whale (with the 20cm) and the Hockeystick, which was very difficult to find with the 20cm. The very last object was M64 where we could see the dark lane with the 20cm.

So although I took a break concerning the Herschel II list I had a very nice observing session together with Jan. It’s very nice when you can observe with a “buddy” and talk about what you see. And comparing views with 2 very different scopes is fun too.

Clear skies to all of you.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Observation February 2, 2008

It has been a while, but finally it’s a good night to observe. During the last week there were a couple of good nights, but I have been so busy at my work that in the evening I was not really in a good shape (and mental mood) to observe. Age is getting its effect on me.

But today (Saturday) we continue the Herschel II program. The counter is at 93 so hopefully we’ll reach 100 after this session.

Location: Boutersem (Belgium)
Equipment: Celestron Advanced Newton 20cm F5
Eyepieces: 24mm and 16mm - Powermate 2,5x
Limit Magnitude: 4.9
Seeing: moderate
Time: from 18:30 UT to 22:30 UT

Comet 46P/Wirtanen
But before observing the deepsky objects, let’s start first with a comet. Today comet 46P/Wirtanen goes through its perihelium. At 42x I can see an almost round smudge of 7’. A slightly brighter core is visible. The visibility enhances at 64x. The object reacts very well to a deepsky filter. Now the core is easily to see.

NGC 1663 – open cluster in Orion
This is a difficult object. It’s by the way not correctly located in my planetarium software. I had to search on the DSS image to indicate the correct location on my finder chart. At 154x I can see with averted vision some 5 to 10 starts in an area of 10’. It’s a loose cluster situated north of a little arc of 3 bright stars.

NGC 7762 – open cluster in Cepheus
At 64x I see 10 stars of moderate brightness in an area of 15’. It’s a very loose cluster. At 154x a small concentration of 5 stars (5’) is visible in the centre of the cluster.

NGC 7419 – open cluster in Cepheus
At 154x 4 stars are visible with averted vision at the east side of a triangle of 3 stars, of which one is quite bright. That one is slightly orange.

NGC 1184 – galaxy of 12.4 in Cepheus
At 104x it’s once in a while visible with averted vision. It’s an elongated smudge of 2’ in the direction NW-SE. No core. The galaxy becomes better visible at 154x.

NGC 1175 – galaxy of 12.8 in Cepheus
A very difficult object. A few times visible at 154x. Located between 2 stars but they don’t form a straight line.

NGC 1193 – open cluster of 12.6 in Perseus
not found

NGC 1207 – galaxy 12.7 in Perseus
I have seen a little smudge on the right place but only 1 time. I could not repeat the observation so I cannot consider this as a certain observation

NGC 1605 – open cluster of 10.7 in Perseus
Nothing to see at the location of this cluster.

NGC 890 – galaxy of mag 11.30 in Triangulum
At 154x this is a elongated smudge of 2’ – almost continuously visible. No core visible. Located east of a triangle of 3 faint stars.

NGC 925 – galaxy of 9.9 in Traingulum
This is a large galaxy of 11’x6’. I’m not sure if I have seen it.

NGC 1060 – galaxy of mag 12.0 in Triangulum
Visible now and then with 64x. Somewhat better visible at 104x. A smudge of 2’ without a core.

NGC 2367 – open cluster in Canis Major
This is an open cluster of 10’. At 64x I can see 2 bright stars and a few faint ones. No more stars visible at 154x

NGC 2374 – open cluster in Canis Major
This open cluster is 20’ large. At 64x there is a mix of quite some moderate bright stars and faint stars. I guess I can see something like 40 stars. It’s a moderately concentrated cluster. SW of the clusters there is an area of 5’ with a higher concentration of stars.

NGC 2359 – Thor’s Helmet- emission nebula in Canis Major
At 64x without filter it’s not visible. It becomes apparent with a deepsky filter. It’s a nebula of an irregular shape of 10’ in which a few stars are visible. The shape is hard to define. Optimum magnification is 104x (again with deepsky filter). The nebula seems to consist out of 2 parts, of which the northern part is the most bright one. I did not use an OIII filter because I thaught this was a diffuse nebula.

I stopped around 22:30 UT. I have been able to see 9 Herschell II objects which means 103 out of the 400 have been seen. Not bad.

Clear skies to all of you

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Observation January 12, 2008

Yesterday night was the 3rd clear night of January. It's going to be a good month from an observation point of view.

The objective of this session is to continue the Herschel II list.

Location: Boutersem (Belgium)
Equipment: Celestron Advanced Newton 20cm F5
Eyepieces: 24mm and 16mm - Powermate 2,5x
Limit Magnitude 5.3
Seeing: moderate
Time from 18:30 UT to 00:00 UT with a gap of 2 hours due to clouds

Comet Holmes is still visible with the naked eye.

NGC 2366 – galaxy of mag 10.50 in Camelopardalis.
It’s a long one (7’) so surface brightness is low. Not sure I have seen it.

NGC 2274 – galaxy of mag 12.40 in Camelopardalis.
At 104x I can see it once in a while when moving the tube. It’s better visible at 154x – a round smudge of 3’. I'm not sure if I have seen a core.

NGC 2112 – open cluster in Orion
At 64x I can see 4 faint stars and 1 moderate bright star in an area of 10’. At 104x the cluster is better visible with its 9 stars. The cluster stands really loose from the background.

NGC 1662 – open cluster in Orion
This is a loose open cluster. At 64x 8 bright stars are visible, together with another 7 faint ones. 3 of those bright stars makes a triangle in the centre of the cluster with one of them being orange.

NGC 1762 – galaxy of mag 12.7 in Orion
At 104x the galaxy is almost continuously visible with averted vision. It’s a round smudge of 1’. The foreground star is only visible with averted vision but not at the same time as the galaxy. Interesting object.

NGC 1750 and 1746 – open cluster in Taurus
NGC 1746 is a large open cluster of 40’. It contains many bright and faint stars, I estimate more than 50 stars. At the west side there is a small arc of bright stars. NGC 1750 is the eastern part of NGC 1746 although I cannot see any reason for giving a new number. This just seems to be the same cluster. It’s the area with most of the bright stars. At the north-east side there is a 10’ area with a higher concentration of faint stars.

NGC 1587 – galaxy of mag 11.7 in Taurus
Suspected at 64x. Obvious at 104x but not continuously visible. It’s an oval of 3’ with its longest elongation going from NW to SE. The core is not visible. The galaxy is located between 2 bright stars. I could not look for NGC 1589 because clouds are hiding the field

NGC 1582 – open cluster in Perseus
64x. A loose cluster of 30’ with 8 bright stars and around 30 faint stars. The centre contains almost no stars. One of the bright stars is slightly orange.

NGC 1624 – open cluster and emission nebula in Perseus
At 64x I can see 3 stars laying in a nebula of 5’. At 104x one of the 3 stars is looking brighter than the other 2. The nebula is well visible.

NGC 1605– open cluster in Perseus
I can see 2 stars in the area where this cluster should be located, nothing more.

NGC 1579 – reflection nebula in Perseus
Easily visible at 64x. It’s located south of a moderate bright star. It’s around 5’ big and its shape is irregular. The centre is brighter than the edges. At 104x visibility is enhanced.

NGC 1348 – open cluster in Perseus
At 64x I see an unresolved smudge of 5’ with 2 faint stars. 5 to 6 stars become visible at 104x.

NGC 1207 – galaxy of mag 12.7 in Perseus
Probably seen at 156x – located between 2 faint stars

NGC 1193 – open cluster of mag 12.6 in Perseus
At 156x I see 2 stars and maybe an unresolved smudge. At its west there is a double star with an orange companion.

NGC 1175 – galaxy of mag 12.8 in Perseus
Maybe visible at 156x

NGC 1003 – galaxy of mag 11.3 in Perseus
At 104x it’s a smudge of 2’ located close to a faint stars. Also visible at 154x.

Up to here for Herschel II objects. I’m getting too tired to look for such faint objects. So it’s time to do something more easier.
As Canis Major is well visible now I decided to explore a bit this constellation.

M41 – no notes

NGC 2360 – open cluster in Canis Major
This is a quite concentrated cluster of 25’. At 64x it contains something like 30 stars of which none are bright.

NGC 2362 – open cluster in Canis Major
This is a cluster with a triangle shape. 20 stars in an area of 15’. A bright star is located in the middle of the triangle.

145 Cma (h3945) – double star mag 4.8 – 6.8; 26”
This is a very nice double star. The primary is orange and the secondary is blue. Well separated. Reminds me of Albireo. Beautiful. I recommend you to look for this one.

Arrowhead cluster – asterism in Canis Major
This is an asterism with 7 bright stars and has a shape of an arrowhead.

“Number 3” cluster – asterism in Canis Major
This is an asterism with 20 stars forming a shape of a “3”.

If someone knows the catalogue numbers of the last 2 objects I will be glad to hear it from you.

Up to know I have seen 89 Herschel II objects. It's in fact more because I didn't log the observation of January 6 yet when I have seen 5 or 6 HII objects. I don't think I will be able to see all of them with a 20cm scope, certainly not from Belgium. If I can see, from Belgium and the Provence, 350 oout of the 400 I think it's going to be a nice achievement.

Clear skies to you


Monday, January 7, 2008

PK 111-2.1 (Hubble 12) - bis

As I said in my previous post, whenever it will be clear again I will look once more for Hubble 12. Yesterday, January 6 was clear and yes, I can confirm I saw PK 112-2.1 without any doubt with my 20 cm scope

At 64x it was easily visible as a stellar object, and it reacted positively on an OIII filter. At this magnification I could see only 1 star next to the nebula. But at 104x I could see the 2 stars next to the nebula exaclty like on my finder chart. The object itself remains stellar at 104x

I have seen yesterday evening many other objects from the HII list and other planetaries, but that's a topic for another post.

Clear Skies


Saturday, January 5, 2008

PK 111-2.1 (Hubble 12)

In my previous post I talked about my observation of PK 111-2.1. This is what I mentioned:

PK 111-2.1 – planetary nebula of 2” of mag 13.0 in Cassiopeia
This nebula is situated next to 2 faint stars. So I should see 3 stars, but unfortunately I can see only 2. One star is a bit brighter than the other one. Both stars are of mag 11.5 and 11.7 so I have to conclude I don't seen PK 111-2.1. Who could confirm the nebula is fainter than those 2 stars? Note: gives magnitude 14.0. Eye&Telescope gives mag 13.0

Well, after some discussions on the dutch astronomy mailing list it seems I have been able to see the planetary. The nebula itself is of magnitude 11.9, the central star is of magnitude 14.0.
A picture of confirms the situation (I'm not sure I'm allowed to post this picture, so if you are interested please go to the blackskies website).

Whenever the sky is clear I will observe once more this object.

Clear Skies


Friday, January 4, 2008

Observation January 2, 2008

This is the first observation this year with a telescope. It's quite cold (something around -3 °C). I'm going for a few Herschel II objects and planetary nebula's

Location: Boutersem (Belgium)
Material: Celestron Advanced GoTo Newton 20cm (8") F5
Eyepieces: Panoptic 24mm and Nagler 16mm - Powermate 2,5x
Naked Eye Limit Magnitude: starting with less than 5.0, ending with somewhat higher than 5.0
Seeing: moderate
Timing: 18:00 UT to 22:30 UT

But we'll start with 2 comets.

Comet Holmes
Visible with naked eye. But it's difficult because it's not yet completely dark. Through the 7x50 finder Holmes is a large round object but still difficult to see. Also at 42x the comet is hardly visible. I can see some nebulosity in the shape of an arc. This arcs becomes a bit more visible with a deepsky filter. Now I can see half of a circle. What a difference with the observations during October and November.

Comet Tuttle
Tuttle is not visible with the naked eye. It's barely visible with my binoculars. But through the finder (7x50) Tuttle is round with a small but bright core. At 64x I can see a coma of 10' with a faint nucleus. The coma is surrounded by some nebula which is round and 25' large. One star is visible through this nebula. A deepsky filter enhances the visibility. The shape looks more triangular than round.

M33 en NGC 604 – galaxy and HII region in Triangulum
NGC 604 is visible at 64x with deepsky filter. It's surprisingly easy to see although averted vision is necessary. At 154x (and deepsky filter) the object is elongated (2:1) and one side seems brighter than the other one.

NGC 513 – galaxy of mag 12.9 in Andromeda
This is a Herschel II object. Difficult. Only visible at 156x and with averted vision. Size is 2’.

NGC 499 – galaxy of mag 12.2 in Pisces
This one is in the neighbourhood of NGC 513. At 156x it's quite easily visible with averted vision. NGC 499 has an oval shape of 3'.

NGC 507 – galaxy of mag 11.3 in Pisces
Also this one is in the neighbourhood of NGC 513. At 156x NGC 507 is a large round object of 4 to 5' with a small core. More difficult than NGC 499.

NGC 7640 – galaxy of mag 11.3 in Andromeda
This is a very difficult object. It's 10' long (!) and hence it has a low surface brightness (SB: 14.5). According to Eye&Telescope the contrast reserve is -0.25, so it would not be visible with my scope. Indeed, at low power I see nothing at all. Maybe, but I say maybe, I can see the South-East side at 154x.

NGC 214 – galaxy of mag 12.2 in Andromeda
At 104x I can see an oval of 3'. Averted vision is required to see this object. The elongation is 2:1 and the direction is NE-SW.

These were the Herschel II objects. Now we have some planetary nebulas in Cassiopeia.

IC 289 – planetary nebula of 35” of mag 13.3 in Cassiopeia
From time to time visible at 154x with OIII filter. It's very difficult, but once in while a disc is visible.

IC 1747 – planetary nebula of 13” of mag 12.1 in Cassiopeia
This one is visible with direct vision at 154x without the aid of any filter. I see a little disc with a bright centre. It reacts very well with an OIII filter.

PK 119-6.1 – planetary nebula of 8” of mag 12.2 in Cassiopeia
At 156x PK 119-6.1 is easily visible as a "star". Observation is confirmed with an OIII filter because it reacts very well.

PK 118-8.1 – planetary nebula of 9” of mag 12.5 in Cassiopeia
Also this one is looking as a star at 156x. Observation is confirmed by OIII and UHC filter. The faint star of mag 12.9 near the nebula was not visible.

PK 111-2.1 – planetary nebula of 2” of mag 13.0 in Cassiopeia
This nebula is situated next to 2 faint stars. So I should see 3 stars, but unfortunately I can see only 2. One star is a bit brighter than the other one. Both stars are of mag 11.5 and 11.7 so I have to conclude I don't seen PK 111-2.1. Who could confirm the nebula is fainter than those 2 stars? Note: gives magnitude 14.0. Eye&Telescope gives mag 13.0

After all those faint objects it is time for showpiece such a M42 and M43. This was only for a short period, because my Celestron Powertank ran empty. This is strange because it was completely charged before starting to observe. It's a pity because I wanted to continue for 1/2 hour with Herschel II objects in Auriga and Taurus.

Anyway, the evening is a success: 2 comets, 3 HII objects and 4 new planetary nebulas.

Clear skies to you

Observation January 1, 2008

Around 10 pm UT the sky has brightened up partially. Comet Holmes is still visible with the naked eye. With the binocular I can see Holmes and M34 in the same field of view. Both are looking like 2 round patches of light. Holmes is however larger than M34. I tried to look for Comet Tuttle, which is not visible, nor with naked eye, nor with binoculars.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

My Next Project

Since 3,5 years I'm back in Astronomy I completed 2 projects: the Messier list was completed in 2006 and the Herchell 400 list has been recently completed early December 2007. I really enjoyed doing those projects because it's like an objective to pursue. It's rather long term (takes more than a year to do), it needs good planning, patience is key but also perseverance. I like to be under the stars with a list to complete, if you know what I'm meaning.

So what’s next?

I’m thinking about 2 possible projects. The Herschel II list is the first one. I’m not so sure the 400 objects can be done with a 20cm scope, but I’ll try to do a maximum of it

The 2nd project is based on a fantastic accomplishment of a Dutch astronomer. He has been able to observe 282 planetary nebulas with a 20cm scope. Can you imagine the performance?
So I’m currently making a list of all planetaries above -30° and brighter than 14.3. It’s a list of 312 objects but I’m sure not all of them are visible. The list is based on and Eye&Telescope planning software.

So I’ll start once the sky is clear, which is hopefully for not too long now. I’m eager to start those 2 nice projects …

Clear skies to all of you.