Monday, August 17, 2009

Found Pease 1! And tested some nice eyepieces (16 August 2009)

Again a nice & clear sky, the 3rd in a row. I don’t need to work tomorrow so no worrying about staying late.

I have tonight also the opportunity to test some eyepieces (thanks to Hubert). I have an Astrolan ultrawide 30mm (80°) which provides me with a FOV of 1,2°, as well as a 9mm Nagler T6 and 4.8mm Nagler (the discontinued version) 

It’s not totally dark when I’m starting to test them. But that’s ok as I’m doing some side by side comparison. 

1. The first object was M13:

Astrolan 30mm (68x) vs. Pan 24mm (84x)
- A great FOV with this Astrolan (1,2°), much larger than the Pan (46’). But of course at the expense of a smaller magnification
- I have astigmatism with the Pan, but even more with the Astrolan. However, it disappears completely when I’m putting my glasses on.
- A bit of (vignetting). Don’t know how to translate in English 
- Good eyepiece for starhopping (see later in this report)

9mm Nagler vs. 9mm Celestron Plossl (225x)
- Nagler is providing sharper stars than the Plossl
- But the Plossl  goes slightly fainter!
- The FOV of 35' is just great

9mm Nagler vs. 9mm Celestron Plossl combined with Powermate 2,5 (563x)
The Nagler provides again sharper stars, but also here the Plossl goes fainter.

4,8mm Nagler (422x) (not compared with another eyepiece)
Sharp images, even at this power! Comfortable FOV of 20'. This is a great eyepiece!

Note 1: while testing I did not know this was a discontinued version and that the 5mm Nagler T5 provided a twice as large FOV. In fact, it's good I did not know, because it provides an unbiased opinion on this 4.8mm eyepiece. 

Note 2: I found on Cloudy Nights quite some remarks on the short eye relieve of this eyepiece. I don't recall having been confronted with this issue during my testing. It's true however it's impossible to observe through this eyepiece with glasses.

4,8mm Nagler with Powermate 2,5x (1055x)
Stars are small discs.

2. Next test was to find Pease 1 in M15
I have found Pease 1 (with Blinking Technique!) with the following eyepieces:

Celestron 9mm + Powermate 2,5x: blinking worked well because I do not have reflections on the filter as I can bring it real close to the eyepiece.

Nagler 9mm + Powermate 2,5: blinking more difficult as with this eyepiece I cannot bring the filter close to its edge, due to the firm eyecaps. I have reflections on the filter which makes it difficult to blink. I had only success when putting a dark cloth over my head.

Nagler 4,8mm: “easy” (everything is relative, so I mean in fact easier than with the 9mm and Powermate) 

3. Ringnebula (M57):
Nice image at 422x (4,8mm Nagler). Still able to observe it at 1055x but it becomes more difficult due to inaccurate tracking. Stars are little discs. Could see a star of mag 15.6 close to the edge (not visible at 422x) and maybe the central star. 

4. Little Dumbell (M76)
Here the 9mm Nagler gives a better view than the 9mm Celestron Plossl. I can see a bit more details on the nebula, and this time I see also a fainter star, which is not viewed with the Plossl. The 9mm Nagler (225x) gives a better view than the 16mm with Powermate (316x). 

5. Starhopping with Telrad and Astrolan 30mm 82°
I’m not used to starhop, so I admit I’m not good at it. However, I also know it’s always a little moment of joy when you found a DSO by your own means. I decided to give it a try by using the Telrad and the Astrolan with it’s 1,2° FOV. Without finder it’s of course a bit harder, reason why I limit myself to the obvious Messiers.  

I did not use starhop charts or an Atlas, only the constellation charts in the “Nigh sky observers guide” have been used. 

I have been able to find M13 (that’s really not difficult), M92, M56, M57, M29, and M15. I had to cheat a bit with M92 and M15: I did not found it immediately, so I used the ArgoNavis to locate, and then looked at the Telrad to find its position (aha, it's there!). Then I tried again only with the Telrad, and it worked. I repeated it a few times to save it well in my memory. I intend to try it during my next observation session.

So here is my eyepiece conclusion: 
- Astrolan 30mm (82°): fine eyepiece if you don' suffer from astigmatism. Otherwise it's OK when wearing glasses (which is not always possible when there is a lot of humidity in the air). It’s also a great eyepiece to starhop. 
- the cheap Celestron 9mm eyepiece is not bad compared to the Nagler 9mm. The Nagler is a bit sharper and provide some more details on a nebula. But the real “plus” of the Nagler is the field of view of 35'. Replacing the Celestron Plossl just for the quality of the image is maybe not worthwhile, unless you’re aim is to get the larger FOV or when you are obsessed by pinpoint stars.
- The 4,8mm Nagler is a great eyepiece. Unfortunately I have not been able to benchmark it with another one so I cannot judge if the premium price is justified. But I can imagine that at that power a larger FOV of 20' is real advantage and worthwhile over a traditional eyepiece. As stated previously I did not had an issue with the short eye relieve. If I have the opportunity I should compare this 4.8mm Nagler with the still active 5mm Nagler T5.  But honnestly, not knowing this 4.8mm was an discontinued version I was pleased with the view it gave me.

Great evening, and I can add Pease 1 to my observation list!

Addendum: observed the folllowing night once more with the 4.8mm Nagler, and indeed, it's a short eyerelief. Not really an issue when there is no condensation, which is  quite rare in our regions.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Perseids (Aug 11, 2009)

One night before its peak I’ve observed the Perseids with my 14 year old son. We are lying on the long chairs in the garden, looking towards east and north and hoping to catch those falling stars.

This is some real quality time to spend with the kids. It’s a ritual I try to do with my kids since some years, with relative success, either due to the weather, either due to the willingness of the kids to participate.  

Tonight we talk a little bit about the stars, I look if he still recognises the constellations (he remembers the summer triangle), we see some satellites (and planes too) and of course we are all excited when we see a meteor. We haven’t seen a lot of Perseids tonight. During the half hour we watched (from 21:00UT to 21:30UT) I’ve seen 6 and my son 5. I’ve seen a bright long one with glowing light and sparkles of light. 

The next night with the maximum is completely clouded. 

A very rare event: Jupiter occults a bright star (45 Cap)

Tonight there is a very rare astronomical event on the menu. Jupiter occults 45 Cap, a star of mag 6.0. 

The Electronic Bulletin van de BAA is giving the following info: 
Jupiter will occult the bright star 45 Cap (HIP 107302) on the night of 2009 August 03/04 (Mon/Tues). The star is visual magnitude 6.0 and, for European observers, will be the brightest star to be occulted by Jupiter for the next 100 years.

And yes, we are lucky, the sky is clear so no doubt we will see this event. Unfortunately the seeing is terrible, one of the worst I’ve ever seen, which has been reported too by other Belgian observers. The 4 main moons of Jupiter were all visible as well as 45 Cap, which is the closest to Jupiter. I started observing at 22Hr15UT which is around 40 minutes before the occultation. At around 22:50UT the tension is increasing, the star is getting real close to Jupiter. Then suddenly it’s gone and in the next 30 seconds I had the impression it pupped up a few times (difficult to say due to the seeing): a fist one (quite sure), a 2nd one (not sure) and a 3rd one (sure). 2 flashes have been reported by other observers too. The star reappeared 2 hours later but I have not observed this.

Rendez-vous is made again in 100 years!

A frist try to Pease 1

More than 1 month I have not been observing. During July there were a couple of good nights, but could not find enough motivation to get the scope out. This year has been very tough (I’m working in automotive). But after a good week of holiday I’m ready to watch the stars again!

The sky conditions of tonight are not very good. There are high clouds and it’s not very transparent. NELM is around 5.0. I have no descriptions of what I observed, except of the search to Pease 1 (planetary in M15) and Jupiter.

Pease 1: Pease 1 is a little planetary nebula in M15. You need a good finder chart to catch this object. Luckily there is a good website where you find all the required or

It’s a 3-step approach to find it. First you need to find the 4 trapezium star, which is not difficult at 311x. Step 2 is to locate a triangle east of this trapezium and continue you path to a faint stars towards the north of the globular. The triangle is still easy, but finding this faint star becomes more challenging, but still doable. For step 3 you need to pump the power to 500x: we need to go from this star a small 28” to the nebula. Not easy because there are a lot of stars and due to the high power they are all like little discs. I could see “something”, a disc maybe somewhat larger than the stars but I’m not too sure it’s the planetary. When looking at observations from other people I conclude this is not yet Pease 1. But at least, I’m more prepared for the next try as I’ve walking around in the region …

Jupiter: I’ve never seen Jupiter as well as during this evening: amazing lot’s of details in the belts with all kind of structures, color differences etc. Besides the 2 main belts I could see some other ones. The red spot was also visible, but unfortunately the impact was still “behind” the planet.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A good mix of galaxies, planetaries and open clusters

While I’m slowly finishing the Herschel II list, I decided to go for a new challenge, the Fred 200 planetary list. Fred H is a Dutch astronomer who has extensive experience in drawing planetary nebula’s. He has seen 280 planetary nebulas with a 20cm scope (from Holland!). To honor this achievement a list of 200 of those objects has been compiled by his Dutch peers and called it to his name: “Fred’s 200 planetary nebulas”.

You can find this list here.

One of the reasons I selected this challenge is to observe something else than galaxies. The last 5 to 10 sessions has been almost exclusively dedicated to galaxies. It’s time to get some variation in the program. This does not mean I will exclude galaxies, as one of the aim of tonight was … yes, a group of galaxies, Seyfert’s Sextet.

Date: May 30, 2009
Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession 18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5.0
Seeing: good
Time 22:30Hr UT to 00Hr00UT. Clouds appearing at 0:00.

I have a difficult start. The batteries of the Argo Navis do not seem to give any power. In the dark it’s difficult to see that one of the wires is disconnected … Next issue, the Servo Cat does not power up. This happens now and then, it’s one of the cables in the box which is not well plugged in.

OK, we are ready to go. M5, the globular in Serpens Caput is the first on the list. This is a beautiful global, maybe even nicer than M13.

Next is Seyfert’s Sextet:
NGC 6027 – Seyfert’s Sextet – group of galaxies in Serpens Caput
Really difficult. Also because the moon is still disturbing a bit. At 124x I can see with a lot of effort an oval spot of 2’. At 316x the B component of the group is clearly visible. Maybe I have seen the A component too, but this is not sure. The group is located in between two 14th magnitude stars.

NGC 5921 – galaxy in Serpens Caput
At 211x NGC 5921 is an oval of 2’ with a bright core. Could not see the bar.

Time for 2 objects in Hercules from Fred’s 200 list.

PK 51 +9.1 (Hu 2-1) – planetary in Her
Hu 2-1 is a mag 12.2 object with a size of 2”. In other words, it’s tiny. It’s easily visible at 124x as a stellar object. It reacts positively with an UHC filter. At 211x it’s bright, white and a very faint disc is visible. The centre looks brighter, could this be the central star?

PK 53 +24.1 (Vy 1-2) – planetary in Her
This planetary is of magn 12.3 and is 4”6 small. It easily visible as a bright star at 124x. Did not look at 211x.

Cygnus is now high enough in the sky, a good moment to finalize the 5 open clusters from the HII list.

NGC 6991 – open cluster in Cyg
NGC 6991 is one of those objects in the Dreyer catalogue of which the location is not well defined. On the NGCIC project 2 locations, close to each other are mentioned. So I’ve been looking at both of them. The first location is a few minutes west of mag 5.6 star (HR 8020). Strange enough there is almost nothing to see there, even at high power. It’s just an area with a few stars, not even concentrated. The 2nd location is South West of this bright star. Here indeed a loose group of 20 stars, in an area of 15’ is visible. This group contains 2 short chains of 3 stars.

NGC 6997 – open cluster in Cyg
NGC 6997 is an open cluster of the HII list. Here also there is some confusion on its precise locations. Some catalogues are inverting NGC 6997 with NGC 6996. So here again I observed the 2 spots: The most northern one (+45°28’) is a very small group of 10 stars in an area of 5’ (84x). The other one (at +44°37’) is a group of 20’ with 20 stars. Most of them are of the same brightness.

NGC 7067 – open cluster in Cyg
Is this an open cluster? At 211x I can see 10 stars west from a bright triple star (SAO 50808, the primary is of magn 9,41). But this does not look like a concentration of stars. The area contains a bright double star. After checking the DSS picture I conclude I’ve probably not been looking at the right location. I will log it as not seen.

NGC 7082 – open cluster in Cyg
Observed when clouds are appearing. This is a group of 50 stars (probably more if there were no clouds). The edges of the group is not easy to define because this group is just a little be more concentrated than its surrounding field. The 2 brightest stars are yellow. North, perhaps already out of the group, is another bright yellow star. I think I’ve seen a faint red star too, but this is not sure as the group is fading away behind the clouds. These colors are not mentioned in the 11 observation in dslog, so is this just imagination or is it a side effect due to the clouds?

HII: observed 347 out of 400

No galaxies this time !

It is, for this region, again a very clear night with NELM probably better than 5,5. Also the seeing is excellent tonight. The aim of today is to do the 2 open clusters of HII in Vulpecula, combined with the showpieces.

Date May 29, 2009
Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession 18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5.5
Seeing: excellent.
Time 23:30Hr UT to 01Hr00UT. Clouds appearing at 0:00.

NGC 6793 – open cluster in Vul
Observed at 124x and 211x. NGC 6793 is a loose cluster of 10 bright stars in an area of 10’. 2 distinct groups are visible with each a triangle made up of 3 bright stars. The most northern star of the northern triangle is a double star.

NGC 6800 – open cluster in Vul
Observed at 124x. This cluster does not stand out well from its surroundings. There is a light concentration of stars in an area of 15’. A ring of 10 bright stars and 20 faint stars are forming the edge of his cluster. An obvious “void” at the centre of this object.

After those 2 HII objects I spend the remaining of the time observing showpieces in the typical summer constellation.

First in Scorpio because it’s culminating. M80 and M4 are splendid globulars.
In Ophiuchus I looked for M10, M12 and M14. Next time I’ll prepare a list with some other objects in this large constellation.

Observing with an 18” in Cygnus is a wonderful experience. I’ve had amazing views of the Veil Nebula. Lot’s of details and structure were visible on both segments. Pickering triangle was easy to see.

Also the Crescent nebula provided awesome views with details and structure.

NGC 7008 is one of my favorite planetaries in Cygnus. The 2 nodules give it an irregular shape. Brightness is irregular. Two stars are superimposed on the object.

Another nice planetary is NGC 7048. It’s a grey disc which is slightly elongated. Did not see the superimposed star.

The next planetary is NGC 6894, which is also a terrific object to observe. It’s a grey ring with a darker centre. The northern edge is slightly brighter.

The blinking planetary (NGC 6826) is chooses to end this beautiful observation session. This planetary is nicer to observe without filter. The central star is obvious. The blinking effect is always a nice effect to look at. Interestingly, the nebula did not fade completely away, while it did with my 20cm scope (as far as I remember though).

Monday, April 6, 2009

Going further with Herschel 2 in Virgo

I have to rectify what I said, I thought I’ve seen all HII objects of Leo and Coma, but in fact I missed 1 galaxy in each of these 2 constellations. Luckily I found it by accident, so I can hunt this tonight.

Date March 30, 2009
Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession 18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5.0
Seeing: moderate
Time 21:00Hr UT to 22Hr30 UT

NGC 3705; IC 698; IC 2853 – galaxy in Leo
At 124x this is a large galaxy of 4’, rather faint and with a bright stellar core. At 211x a core of 2’ is visible with a stellar nucleus. A bit further to the west is NGC 3692, a rather elongated galaxy of 3’ long and less than 1’ wide. Elongation is 1:5. It has no core and I can see it only half of the time. SW of NGC 3705 is a group of IC galaxies. I could only see IC 698 at 211x while moving the scope, and IC 2853 at 316x which I’ve during 3 different moments.

Before going to Coma I wanted to have a look at 2 Arp’s in Cancer.

Arp 89 (NGC 2548) – galaxies in Cancer
I have seen only NGC 2548 with certainty. It’s an oval of 2’x1’ with a bright core. Maybe I have seen PGC 24469 one or two times as an elongated spot, but it is not totally sure (which means I don’t log it).

Arp 167 (NGC 2672 – 2673) – galaxies in Cancer
The 2ND Arp in Cancer for tonight. At 124x I can probably see 2 different spots with a faint core. At 211x 2 distinct objects are visible? A large bright, round galaxy of 2’ with bright core (this is NGC 2672, and a smaller, also round galaxy, located north of the big one (NGC 2763).

Let’s go back to Herschel II.

NGC 4237; 4262; IC 781 – galaxy in Coma
NGC 4237 is at 124x an oval of 2’ x 1’ with a faint core. This is an easy object. It’s located north of a light orange but bright star. 40 SE is NGC 4662, a small but bright galaxy of 1’. It contains a bright core. Going in NE direction we come along IC 781, which I could see only 10% of time at 211x.

We continue with HII in Virgo

NGC 4235; 4224; 4233 – galaxy in Virgo
NGC 4235 is at 124x a nice elongated nebula of 3’ x 1’, with tapered ends. No core. I could not see NGC 4246. To the north is NGC 4224, another HII object. It’s an oval of 2’ x 1’ without core. It forms a (gelijkzijdige) triangle with 2 bright stars. Even more north is a 3rd HII galaxy, NGC 4233. At 124x this is a spot smaller than 1’ with a faint core.

NGC 4168; 4193; 4189– galaxy in Virgo
Ngc 4168 is an almost round nebula of 2’ with a faint core (124x). Even at 211x I could not see NGC 4165. To the east is NGC 4193 an elongated spot of 2’ also without core. Now going to the north we find NGC 4189. This a nebula of which I could not define its shape. It’s 2’ big, has no core, and I could see it only 10% of time.

NGC 4124 – galaxy in Virgo
An easy target at 124x. It’s an oval spot of 3’ x 1’, without core.

NGC 4073; 4045; 4077 – galaxy in Virgo
A FOV with 2 HII objects. NGC 4073, the first one, is visible during 80% as a small spot of 1’ (124x). The 2nd HII, NGC 4045 is located to the west. At 211x it’s a spot of 1’ with a faint core. To the south of NGC 4073 is NGC 4077, visible at 211x. It’s a small spot visible half of the time.

NGC 4241 – galaxy in Virgo

This one is difficult at 124x. I can see a spot of 2’ during 40% of time, without core . At 211x it is continuously visible. I could not see IC 3115

NGC 4267; 4305; 4306; IC 775 – galaxy in Virgo
NGC 4267 is at 124x a spot of 2’ with a bright core. It’s continuously visible. Going east we find 2 faint galaxies which I could see only at 211x: NGC 4305 and NGC 4306 were visible 10% of time. I could not determine the elongation direction. At the other side of NGC 4267 is IC 775, which is a round spot (at 211x) of 1’. Located west of bright star.

NGC 4294; 4299 – galaxy in Virgo
Again 2 HII in same FOV. These are 2 difficult objects which I could see only 30% of time at 124x. NGC 4294 is 2’ x 1’ large. Elongation direction is NW-SE. NGC 4299 is 1’ and is round.

NGC 4313 – galaxy in Virgo
At 124x NGC 4213 is a nice galaxy of 4’ x 1’. No core.

NGC 4339; 4333 – galaxy in Virgo
NGC 4339 is a round spot of 2’ with a moderately bright core. NGC 4337 is visible at 211x during 20%. It’s smaller than 1’.

These were the last Herschel objects. I ended the observation session with the show pieces of the season.

HII: 269 out of 400

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Good deepsky conditions, even with moon!

The sky looks very transparent, but unfortunately the moon is already quite bright. Without moon I guess we would have more than 5,5 nelm. I estimate it now to be 5,0 but deteriorating at the end of the session due to upcoming clouds.

Date: March 2, 2009
Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession 18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: 5.0
Seeing: moderate
Time 19:15Hr UT to 22Hr15 UT

Comet Lulin was the first observed object. Same vision as on Saturday, meaning I could not glimpse the tail of the comet. At 84x the faint halo is around 15’ big, the coma is 3’ with a nucleus.

The usual program of Herschel II is next topic:

NGC 5879 – galaxy in Draco
At 84x I can see it as an elongated spot of 3’x1’, without core. It’s not that easy to see (visible 30% of time) because it’s still quite low on the sky. At 211x I can see it almost continuously. (Something went wrong with the planning as I have seen this object on 14/2/2009)

NGC 6015 – galaxy in Draco
At 124x this galaxy is a large oval of 5’x3’ which is just visible with averted vision. No structure to see. There is a star close to SE edge (does not touch the galaxy). Higher power does not provide more details.

NGC 6340 – galaxy in Draco
A round spot of 2’ with a faint core is visible at 124x. The view is nice at 211x: the galaxy, of which the core is now clearly visible, is located close to a double star. The 2 IC galaxies in the neighborhood (IC 1251 and 1254) are suspected at 316x.

NGC 4236 – galaxy in Draco
This is a huge galaxy of 23’ in Draco. I tried this one already a few times, but today, I’ve got it without any doubt. At 124x I can see an extremely faint, large spot of 15’, of which the northern part seems to be brighter. At lower power, 84x and with a deepsky filter the objects is easier to spot. I can see 2 somewhat brighter patches (northern edge and southern edge).

NGC 2610 – planetary in Hydra

Last time I saw only a stellar object. Today I can see clearly the planetary nebula at 211x as a disc of 30”. It’s a faint disc, almost round with a star at the northern edge. A bright orange star is located north. UHC filter provides much better contrast. The edges are sharp and the southern part is fainter than the northern one. This is the nicest object of the evening.

NGC 2525 – galaxy in Puppis
I tried NGC 2525 already several times, but today I finally got it. This is an extremely difficult object. I can only see it at 211x when the scope is moving a bit. It’s around 3’ big with an undetermined shape. Once located it became visible even when the view is not moving. This object requires “heavy” averted vision and extreme concentration.

I missed NGC 2283, a galaxy in Canis Major, as it was already to low on the sky. Bad planning!

NGC 2805 – galaxy in Uma
This is a galaxy which I was not certain I had seen it (logged as Perception of object is very questionable). But today I could see it at 211x with averted vision. It’s a spot of 2’ of undefined shape. The 2 other galaxies NGC 2620 and NGC 2814 were also visible.

NGC 3145 – galaxy in Hydra
Again a difficult target. At 124x I can see it a few times as an oval of 2’. It’s located a slightly north of a line made by a bright orange star and a fainter star. Does not become easier at 211x. The bright orange star which is quite disturbing.

All Herschel II objects of Uma have been observed by now so I need to start hunting in a new constellation. Leo is the most appropriate one at this time. It’s not yet culmulating but it’s high enough to look for the remaining 18 HII objects.

NGC 3162 – galaxy in Leo
NGC 3162 is a round spot of 2’ with a faint core (124x). It is continuously visible with averted vision. A faint star is located close to the eastern edge.

NGC 3177 – galaxy in Leo
NGC 3177 is a small bright circular spot of 1’. It contains a bright core. The galaxy, visible with direct vision, is located in an area with a lot of bright stars.

NGC 3274 – galaxy in Leo
This is a round or oval galaxy (it’s not clear) of 1,5’, located in the middle of a triangle of stars. It has no core. A double star is located 7’ south.

NGC 3301 and NGC 3287 – galaxy in Leo
NGC 3301 is an oval of 2’ with a bright centre and a stellar core. It become larger up to 3’ with 211x. Nice! NGC 3287 is located 30’ SE of NGC 3301. It’s an oval of 2’x1’ without core. Also this one is located close to a double star, of which the primary is white and the faint secondary blue. Nice combination!

NGC 3338 and NGC 3357 – galaxy in Leo
NGC 3338 is an oval spot of 3’x2’ without core (124x). NGC 3357, located towards NE, is a round spot visible 20% of time at 211x. It contains no core. Arp 291 was not visible, although I tried at all possible powers. I think the sky conditions were already deteriorating at that moment.

NGC 3507 and NGC 3501 – galaxy in Leo
NGC 3507 is a round spot (211x). A star is located at NE edge. A core is visible at 211x. NGC 3501 is difficult. I could see it only twice at 124x and estimated a size of 3’. The view changes completely at 211x as now I can see a nice but faint needle of 3’.

I ended this session with M81, M82 and M51, of which I could see only 2 spots. Clearly sky conditions are not good anymore. In fact, half and hour later, the sky was completely covered by clouds.

Anyway, this was a great evening, with one comet, lots of galaxies and one planetary nebula (and I forgot, a few double stars)

Herschell II: 220 seen.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Observing comet Lulin and Herschel II objects.

The last day of February. It’s not a marvelous sky, but it’s good enough to get out and look for Comet Lulin and do some observations.

Dat: Feb 28, 2009
Location: Boutersem
Equipment: Obsession 18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: close to 5.0
Seeing: moderate
Time 20:30Hr UT to 23Hr15 UT
Temperature: do-able – must be around 5°C

I started with Comet Lulin. I’ve seen many nice pictures on the mailing lists, so it’s about time to view it myself. Its located close to Regulus. At 84x times I can see a core, with a bright nucleus, surrounded by a large halo. The halo is quite larger at 124x (forgot to quantify). I taught I have glimpsed the tail, but when comparing my drawing with someone else’s, the direction does not match.

The sky is still not very good, but I decided to go for the Herschel II objects in Hydra.

NGC 2765 – galaxy in Hydra
Difficult too see, probably due to bad conditions. I can see it only 20% of the time at 124x. It’s a spot of 1’ without core.

NGC 2889 – galaxy in Hydra
NGC 2889 was only visible at 211x as a round spot, larger than 1’. Visible 20% of time.

NGC 2855 – galaxy in Hydra
Also this one was only visible at 211x but it’s an easier one than NGC 2889 as I could see it almost continuously (90%). The shape is almost round and contains no core. It’s a bit bigger than 1’. It’s located south of a bright star, which seems to be a double star with faint companion. According my atlas this is indeed a double star (HD 80801) with a 14.7 companion at 8.97” of the primary.

NGC 2781 – galaxy in Hydra
Continuously visible with averted vision, NGC 2781 is at 124x an oval of 1’ with a faint core.

NGC 2610 – planetary in Hydra
Could only find NGC 2710 it at 211x. It’s very well visible as a stellar object. I can even see this one with direct vision. I don’t see it like a disc, although according deepskylog this planetary is mag 13.0 and is 38” large. Did I see only the central star? I will have to redo this observation. Once located, I could see it (central star?) at 124x with direct vision during 80% of the time.

NGC 2986 – galaxy in Hydra
This is a very difficult galaxy. At 211x I could see a few times “there was something there”, but that’s all!

The other galaxies in Hydra are still too low, so I tried once more to look after NGC 2525, the galaxy in Puppis. Once more, I could not see it.

I decided to go for some galaxies in Ursa Major, of course all of them being Herschel II objects.

NGC 4605 – galaxy in Ursa Major
This is a very nice object. At 124x the size is 5’x2’. It is a bit larger in the middle. The edges are fainter, especially the SE one. AT 211x the SE edge seems to be sharper than the other one. Also, some structure is visible in the middle of the galaxy.

NGC 5204– galaxy in Ursa Major
This is an easy object to see at 124x. The galaxy is 3’x2’ and looks a little bit brighter in the middle.

NGC 5308– galaxy in Ursa Major

At 124x this is an elongated spot of 2’ with a very bright core. It’s becoming bigger at 211x, up to 3’ which is due to its faint edges.

NGC 5430 – galaxy in Ursa Major

NGC 5430 is visible at 84x as a small spot. At 124x this is an oval of 2’ with a faint core.

NGC 5443 – galaxy in Ursa Major

NGC 5433 is located in a trapezium of 4 bright stars. At 124x it is visible during 80% of time as an oval of 22. It has a faint core.

NGC 5448– galaxy in Ursa Major
At 124x this is visible as an oval of 3’x1’. It contains no core.

NGC 5480 & 5481 – galaxy in Ursa Major

The last object of the evening is a nice pair of galaxies, NGC 5480 and NGC 5481. Both are visible at 124x as 2 spots, a little bit elongated but without clear direction in the elongation. Both galaxies have no core. The view is better at 211x. Now both elongation directions are clearly defined. NGC 5481 is brighter and has a large core. NGC 5480 is smaller with a faint core.

I ended the evening with a last view on Comet Lulin. I have seen now 208 Herschel II objects, more than half of them!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine observation

My wife loves me! She gave me as a present a clear night on Valentines day, and not only this, she let me observe!

The sky is indeed clear, although not very transparent. It’s difficult to see all the stars of the little dipper. I estimate it’s just nelm of 5.0. The weather is still quite cold, this night is going to be below zero again.

Date: Valentine 2009
Location: Boutersem (at home)
Equipment: Obsession 18”
Eyepieces: 24mm; 16mm, Powermate 2,5x
Nelm: close to 5.0
Seeing: moderate
Time 21:30Hr UT to 0Hr15 UT
Temperature: below zero

I was wondering if I was going to have the same kind of issues during start up like last time. This time not, the battery of the Argo Navis was fully charged, and the altitude cable was hanging loose. Quikc start this time.

The warm up exercises were M1, M42, M43 (nice, but less structure as last time), M78.

And now the real work with Herschel II. I expect this to be tougher due to somewhat worse conditions that usual. I intend to start with Draco:

NGC 4236 is a huge galaxy of 23’ which I have not been able to see.

NGC 4250 – galaxy in Draco
Observed at 124x, this is a round spot of 2’ with a moderate bright core. It’s located north of a triangle of 3 starts, of which one seems to be red.

NGC 4256 – galaxy in Draco
NGC 4256 is a nice edge-on galaxy, in the form of a needle. It’s 4’ long and less than 1’ wide. The core is bright (124x). The view is even nicer at 211x. The core seems to be a bit wider.

NGC 4133; 4291; 4319– galaxy in Draco
At 124x NGC 4133 is an oval of 2’ with a faint core. I can see it only with averted vision around 90% of the time. Located 20’ north of a bright star. More to the east is NGC 4291, which is an oval of 2’ in which 2 faint stars are visible. NGC 4319 was not visible at 124x, which confirms that conditions are not too good, as I have seen this object quite easily previously. However at 211x I can see it as an oval of 3’ without core.

NGC 5879 – galaxy in Draco
NGC 5879 is still quite low in the sky. I can see this galaxy with averted vision as an oval spot of 3’. Maybe a hint of a very faint core.

Looked for the 2 missing Herschell II objects in Puppis. NGC 2467 is still too low. NGC 2525 is high enough in the sky, but I cannot see it, nor at 124x, 211x or 316x. This must be a difficult one as no-one has seen this object in deslog.

NGC 1980 – nebula in Orion
Could not see the nebula around iota Ori. This bright start is a nice triple star (2 faint companions)

NGC 2639 – galaxy in Uma
NGC 2639 is at 124x an almost round spot of 2’ with a large bright core

NGC 2756 – galaxy in Uma

NGC 2756 is at 124x an almost round spot smaller 2’ without any core. It’s visible only 80% of the time.

NGC 2805; 2820; 2814 – galaxy in Uma
NGC 2805 is a very difficult target. I think I have seen it during at 124x a few moments but I’m not totally sure. I will have to redo this observation. To the NE is a very nice edge on galaxy of 6’ x 1” (NGC 2820). No core visible. At 211x NGC 2814 is visible as an elongated spot of 1’, close to a bright star.

NGC 2880 – galaxy in Uma

NGC 2880 is at 124x a bright galaxy. It’s an oval of 2’ with a bright core, which seems to be slightly off centre.

NGC 3073; 3079 – galaxy in Uma
NGC 3073 is located close to NGC 3079. This last one is very nice object which I had observed also in December 2008. It’s the famous galaxay which is bended towards the east. At 124x, this bending was visible during this night of not so good conditions. A little bit to the west is NGC 3073 which is a round spot of 1’, only visible at 211x.

NGC 3065; 3066 – galaxy in Uma
At 211x these 2 galaxies are in the same FOV. NGC 3065 is 2’ with a bright core. NGC 3066 is smaller, fainter and has no core.

NGC 3225 – galaxy in Uma
This is a difficult one at 124x. I have seen it only during a few short moments. At 211x it’s visible 80% of the time as an oval spot of 2’.

NGC 3319 – galaxy in Uma

Another difficult galaxy in Uma. I can see it during short moments as a large but very faint smudge of light of 3’ (124x)

NGC 3359 – galaxy in Uma
At 124x this is an easy object. It’s a large oval of 4’x2’ with maybe a faint core.

NGC 4271– galaxy in Uma
At 124x this is a round spot of 1x with stellar core.

NGC 4290– galaxy in Uma

At 124x this is an oval spot of 2’, without core. NGC 4284, 5’ west, is not visible, not even at 211x.

Up to here for the quite Herschell II list. I ended the night with some show pieces such as M81, M82, M46 and its planetary nebula, M35 (beautiful !!!), Eskimo, NGC 2172 (planetary in Gemini)

It was cold, conditions where not great, but at the end I was once more happy to have seen so many new objects.

HII: 195/400

Saturday, January 31, 2009

First session in 2009 - one of the most productive

January 30, 2009

This is the 1st observation session of 2009. Jan and I went to observe a couple of hours in Roosbeek, where we enjoyed a very clear sky, probably close to nelm of 5.5. I had some troubles to start with such as a weak battery for the Argo Navis. It did power up but had an erratic behavior. Luckily Jan has some spare batteries I could use. The next issue was related to the azimuth encoder. It did not provide any signal to the AN, which was due to the cable. Not well connected in the AN due to too much stress on the cable. But once those issues were solved I could start a very productive session, with an observation of 49 deepsky object (including showpieces), 3 comets and Saturn. A lot of observed objects resulted with a quite poor description. You cannot get them all …

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

First some showpieces, then we’ll go ahead with Herschel II

M42 – M43 – orion nebula
I’ve never seen M43 that well. The nebula is split in 2 by a dark lane. The southern part, in which a bright star is located, has some structure, the most obvious part being east from the star. (124x)

NGC 1977 and NGC 1973 – running man nebula
Easy to see. NGC 1973 is a nice round nebula around a bright star. Same for NGC 1977, which is bigger. Did not look for NGC 1975.

M46 and NGC 2438 – open cluster with planetary nebula in Puppis
At 124x the ring shape of the planetary is easily noticeable. A faint star is visible close to the centre.

Eskimo Nebula

M35 and NGC 2158

NGC 2158 is resolved at 124x.

I find this object usually dull, but tonight it’s different. It’s well visible and the shape is irregular. An uneven surface brightness inside the nebula can be glimpsed. A few stars are visible at the northern edge. No filaments were visible. On a night like today I should redo this object and spend more time on it.

NGC 3156 – galaxy in Sextans

The only Herschel II object in Sextans is a galaxy of mag 12.1 located a few minutes NW from a bright star. It’s not an easy one aat 124x as I can glimpse it only 80% of the time. It’s an oval of 2’ without core. 30’ north east are 2 nice galaxies: NGC 3169 is with its 2’ almost round and has a bright core. NGC 3166 is larger (3’) and is an oval with a very bright core. NGC 3165, mag 13.9, was not visible, not even at 211x. This is not totally surprising as the contrast reserve is -0.22.

NGC 3158 – galaxy in Leo Minor

Leo Minor contains 4 Herschel II objects of which one I have already seen. Tonight we go for the other 3 ones. NGC 3158 is an easy target at 124x. It’s an almost round smudge of 2’ without core. To the south there are 2 other small galaxies of which NGC 3163 is easy to see. It’s a round spot without core. The 2nd one is NGC 3159 and is very difficult at 124x. It looks quite stellar. 211x gives a more comfortable view. Now NGC 3159 is visible as a round spot with a core. The core of NGC 3163 becomes also visible at 211x. South from NGC 3158 is NGC 3160, which was only visible at 211x, but remains difficult. It’s a very thin galaxy, like a needle, of 2’ long located between 2 bright stars. Unfortunately I did not look for the other galaxies in the neighborhood because they were not printed on my finder charts (too low power).

NGC 3254 – galaxy in Leo Minor
This is a “stand alone” galaxy in Leo Minor. Observed at 124x it’s a large oval spot of 3’ with a small, moderately bright core. 2 bright stars located at its east.
NGC 3424 – galaxy in Leo Minor
NGC 3424 is an elongated galaxy with a faint star on its east ends (124x). AT 211x the galaxy becomes longer and is extending further than the little star. So in reality, this star is located on NE edge on the galaxy, somewhere in the middle between the centre and the end. 5 minutes NE is NGC 3430, which is a large spot of 4’ without core (124x). On the opposite side of NGC 3424 is NGC 3413, which I could see only at 211x. It’s an elongated spot of 1’ without core. Finally there is a nice pair of galaxies on the west side of 3424, NGC 3395 and NGC 3396, or Arp 270. These are 2 oval spots quite uniform in brightness, both with a stellar core. NGC 3395 is somewhat larger than its twin brother. Both galaxies are forming an angle of 100°.

NGC 2269 – open cluster in Monoceros.
NGC 2269 was the only Herschel II object missing in Monoceros. It’s a open cluster of 5’. It’s composed of an NE stroke of 5’ long, containing 10 bright and moderately bright stars. NE are a few more stars (5).

NGC 2283 – galaxy in Canis Major
It’s 2nd time I’m hunting this one, but again, I cannot see it. It must be indeed a difficult one, because there are no logs in dslog. I guess this will be something for in the Provence.

Now follows a long list of galaxies in Uma

NGC 3516 – galaxy in Uma
NGC 3516 is at 124x a small but bright nebula of 1.5’ with a bright core. It’s located between 2 bright stars.

NGC 3583 – galaxy in Uma
NGC 3583 is a large bright nebula of 3’ with a faint core. NW is NGC 3577 which I can see at 211x. It’s a small round spot of 1’. Difficult object.

NGC 3622 – galaxy in Uma

At 124x, NGC 3622 is an elongated nebula of 1,5’. A very bright star, 20’ south, is interfering with the observation.

NGC 3642 – galaxy in Uma
This is a large bright nebula of 2’ with an obvious core. 35’ SW is NGC 3610, a galaxy of 2’ with a prominent core (124x). I saw this one with my 20cm in 2007.

NGC 3652 – galaxy in Uma
At 124x this is an easy one. It’s a 2’ elongated nebula (4:1) without core.

NGC 3669 – galaxy in Uma
(124x) NGC 3669 is a nice elongated nebula (5:1) of 2’ long. No core. To the west there are 3 other galaxies. NGC 3625 is an elongated spot of 1’. It’s a difficult target. NGC 3619 is a round spot of 2’ with bright core. Finally, NGC 3613, a bit towards the north, is very bright oval galaxy with an extremely bright core. It looks similar to M31. I have a little anecdote here: realizing this was similar as M31, an observation I did with my 20cm popped up in my mind. During this nights observation I remember I saw once an object also very similar to M31, so I was wondering if this would be the same galaxy. And yes, my note in http://www.deepskylog.log/ from 21/02/2007 is indeed confirming this. It’s funny that even after observing 1000th of different objects and having seen most of them only once, there are some of them stored for ever in my memory.

NGC 3668 – galaxy in Uma
An easy to observe oval of 2’ with a faint but large core (124x)

NGC 3683 – galaxy in Uma
(124x) An easy elongated spot of 2’ with a faint core. I did not look for the galaxies in the neighborhood.

NGC 3756 – galaxy in Uma
(124x) NGC 3756 is a large but blurred oval of 4’. It’s in same FOV as NGC 3738, smaller and brighter as NGC 3756 but still large with its 3’ length. It looks like it has a bright small core a bit off centre. Further north is NGC 3733 which was only visible at 211x. Although it is 3’, it is so faint that I cannot determine the shape. It’s close to a disturbing bright star. I can see it only 10% of the time.

NGC 4013 – galaxy in Uma

(124x) NGC 4013 is an elongated galaxy of 3’ with something that looks like a star on the NE end. I’m not sure what it is because there is no star printed on my finder chart. This is a strange observation because this is not corresponding to other observations. Or I’m getting tired and I’ve seen only half of the galaxy (the star being in fact the bright core), or I’m looking to a wrong object (which I don’t believe).

NGC 4047 – galaxy in Uma

(124x) Small round spot of 1’ with a faint core.

NGC 4062 – galaxy in Uma
(124x) WOW! A very nice, large galaxy of 5’ with thick central area and 2 tapered ends. These 3 area’s are all equal in size. Uniform brightness.

NGC 4096 – galaxy in Uma
(124x) This is again a nice elongated galaxy of 5’ with two tapered ends. Interestingly, the core is not located centrally but more to the north. The SE side of the core is thicker than the other side. It’s really not a symmetrical galaxy. The core contains a stellar nucleus.

NGC 4100 – galaxy in Uma
(124x) NGC 4100 is also an elongated galaxy of 5’ (4:1). A nice object which I had already seen with my 20cm.

NGC 4144 – galaxy in Uma
(124x) An elongated galaxy of 5’. The southern edge (which is maybe the core) is brighter and uniform in brightness. An interesting object.

NGC 4157 – galaxy in Uma
(124x) Once again, a spectacular edge on galaxy. This one is 6’ large and has an elongation ration of 5:1. Brightness is not uniform. Core looks slightly positioned more towards the east.

This concludes the quest of Herschel 4 objects. Like always I like to end with showpieces.

M82 (and M81): unbelievable what I can see. A prominent dark line a lots of structure and bright knots.

M51: The 2 spiral arms are clearly visible with some bright knots in each of them.

NGC 4565: edge-on in Coma – dark lane is visible

Hickson 44 (in Leo). The 4 galaxies are visible. NGC 3193 and NGC 3190 are easy. I see NGC 3185 only from the moment when Jan tells me where to look. And NGC 3187 is a faint but doable object.

We ended the night with an observation of Saturn. The rings is almost edge on which is a spectacular view. At 500x the ring in front of the planet is visible as a fine line. At least 3 moons are visible.

During the night I saw also 3 comets through the scope of Jan.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Several eyepieces for sale

On the rear row, from left to right:

2” oculair 28mm Multi-coated – not branded - Price: €35
I've won this eyepiece on a quiz during deepsky day in Nijmegen (NL) - used only twice

1 ¼” Celestron Plössl – 32mm – fully multi-coated - New: €57 Price: €42
1 ¼” Celestron Plössl – 15mm – fully multi-coated - New: €45 Price: €33 (SOLD)
1 ¼” Celestron Plössl – 6mm – fully multi-coated - New: €45 Price: €33 (SOLD)
1 ¼” Celestron Plössl – 4mm – fully multi-coated - New: €45 Price: €33

On the 2nd row, from left to right:

1 ¼” Oculair Baader Genuine Ortho 5mm - New: €98 - Price: €75
Used only once. This is a great eyepiece for planetary observations.

1 ¼” Meade Ortho 12,5mm – multi-coated - Price: €30
1 ¼” Meade Ortho 6mm – multi-coated - Price: €30

1 ¼” Lichtenknecker (?) Ortho 8mm - Price: €35
1 ¼” Lichtenknecker (?) Ortho 25mm - Price: €35

On the front row:
Celestron 2x Barlow New: €57 - Price: €42 - (SOLD)

Prices are excluding shipping costs. Cash payment or payment in advance.
If interested please leave me a comment including your email.