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Thread: Skyscanner report - 2014-03-22 - Found 6 new Messiers

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    Default Skyscanner report - 2014-03-22 - Found 6 new Messiers



    Saturday 2014-03-22 21:00h – 23:45h
    Skywatcher Flextube 10”
    Front doorstep

    The day before this session I spend over 2 hours outside fighting clouds, hoping for the predicted “large clearances” to hoover over our little village. I did manage to see some old friends but it was no use looking for new stuff. But this night the skies surprised me by clearing up nicely so I spend a few hours outside.

    I started in Ursa Major:
    First I checked out the Eifel Tower asterism of “DSOs of the Week – 58th Edition”
    Aimed the finder scope left of Alcor/Mizar and Alioth, noticed the hree star line asterism and aimed just right (fov) of it.
    At 60x the asterism stood out nicely, spanning most of the fov. I counted about 16 clearly visible stars with hints of a few more.

    M102 NEW - 91st Messier
    From the Eifel tower I had a shot at M102.
    I studied Stellarium before going out and came up with the following star hop.
    With the unaided eye: Mirror the position of Cor Caroli over the end of the dipper handle.
    This brings you to a corner of a naked eye visible triangle consisting of 12, 13, 14 Dra.
    Aim the finderscope at 12 dra and sweep slowly back towards Cor caroli, past a short three star line asterism onto a mag 5 star.
    M102 lies below these stars and forms a roughly isosceles triangle with them.
    In 60x I found the galaxy as a small faint patch in between two vertical aligned very faint stars.
    A rough sketch of the surrounding star pattern was made for ID purposes.

    Then I visited some old friends:
    M101 was seen as a featureless round haze at 60x
    For this I aim roughly left of Alcor/Mizar and then in the finder I look up the “U” asterism. I extend the bottom line of the “U” appx. a half length to the right (fov), aim the finder scope there and then I’m confident that I’ll have M101 in my EP.

    M51 with its companion where clearly connected by haze
    M94 next to the Hunting dogs was showing as a small bright dense oval
    Above the hunting dogs I could see both cores of the Cocoon galaxies
    M63 was seen as well but I do not remember any details.
    I also took a quick peek at the Surfboard Galaxy and the Owl Nebula as these are so easy to find off the bottom right corner of the Big Dipper.

    Leo
    I started out by giving the leo a bit of its own medicine: I went straight for its throat.
    At 60x I came across a sparse (optical) cluster with a pretty much open center.
    In this open space I could see some haziness but I could not really pin down what I was seeing.
    After the session I checked in Stellarium and there’s indeed some galaxies in this very spot.
    I’m not logging the individual NGC’s just yet as I first want to get a better view.

    Next was the Leo triplet but I missed the 3rd component as I was not sure if it was supposed to be up or down from the Messiers…


    Coma-Virgo

    Time for some new stuff, I was still missing some Messiers in the Coma-Virgo area.
    My previous explorations started from the M84 M86 pair but this time (inspired by a post by JG) I looked up the T-asterism as a starting point.
    M99 was located just left (fov) of the center of the vertical leg of the “T”.
    At 60x clearly visible as a round fuzzy with a brighter core.
    I thought this was a NEW find but it seems I have already logged this one in January, coming from M84-M86 at that time.

    M98 NEW - 92nd Messier
    Left (fov) of the horizontal leg of the “T”. I thought it would be closer to the bright star at the tip of the “T” but instead I found a very faint sliver of light more than half a fov away.
    This galaxy was very faint, very elongated and without a distinct core. It was best seen with the brighter star just outside the fov. Located below a somewhat “Y” or “fan” shaped grouping of faint stars.

    M100 NEW – 93rd Messier
    Located at the other side of the horizontal leg of the “T”.
    As M98 was further away from the “T” than expected I thought this one would be very close to the “T”.
    Ehm yes… This was also a bit further out than anticipated
    M100 was seen as a roundish haze under an arc of faint stars.
    A rough sketch of surrounding star patterns was made for ID purposes.

    At this point I went inside for a few minutes for a Stellarium check to confirm my finds and prepare for M85, M49 and M61.
    When I was back at the scope I started from the “T” again.

    M85 NEW – 94th Messier
    With the upside-down “T” in the finder I envisioned a line from the top star through the bottom right star. On the extension of this line is a bright star.
    East of this star are two other bright stars oriented North-South. Drawing a line between the first star and the Northern star of the “double” M51 sits about 1/3rd from the 1st star just below the line.
    I memo’d this from Stellarium and it worked out just fine.
    M85 was seen as a fuzzy with (what it seemed) two stars in it. Just right (fov) of it I noticed a fainter haze. This turned out to be NGC 4394.

    M61 NEW – 95th Messier
    This was eventually found with use of a printed copy of Gerhard Fischers Messier charts.
    I referenced of the Virgo stars and pointed the Quickfinder as good as I could. With a little scanning I found a nice round fuzzy.
    A rough sketch of surrounding star patterns was made for ID purposes. Stellarium later confirmed this was indeed M61.

    M49 FAIL
    Using the same (quite coarse) map I thought I had found M49. It was seen as a small but quite bright fuzzy flanked left and right by two bright stars.
    But here the rough sketch proved me wrong. From the star pattern it later became obvious that this was not M49 but NGC 4526.
    Close but no cigar….

    Then my wife asked me to come in and as I was about to get up I noticed that the distinct shape of Corvus was visible just over a neighbors hedge.
    I remembered “something” sitting down there and the messier chart confirmed that M68 was located on the extension of two main stars.
    I didn’t expect much from it as it was quite low and the sky was quite light due to LP but trying never hurts.

    M68 NEW – 96th Messier
    At 60x I scanned down from Corvus and immediately noticed a fairly large haze against the grey-ish background.
    There was a distinct star pattern just above the haziness which helped in making another positive ID in Stellarium afterwards.
    As far as globulars go not a “good” observation but I’ll be back when it sits higher in the sky.


    6 new Messiers, not too bad for a front door session…
    In between I also took peeks at M3 and M13, they are marvelous objects in the 10”.
    Especially M3 in its current high position was a stunner, at 60x there were already many stars resolved and at 200x it really exploded.


    This Saturday the observing group of the Mira public observatory is organizing an all night session/ Messier marathon in a dark location.
    So far the weather forecast looks good so I may have a chance to complete the M110 there.
    I’ll also print the detailed charts for the Coma-Virgo area (from the AF threads) to hunt down some more galaxies.
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    Default Re: Skyscanner report - 2014-03-22 - Found 6 new Messiers

    A great report! Thanks for writing and thanks for sharing!
    Lea

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    Default Re: Skyscanner report - 2014-03-22 - Found 6 new Messiers

    Hi Skyscanner. A very nice report from you. Congratulations on bagging 6 more Messier objects from your front door. And, I hope that the Mira outing will give you a good shot at catching several more too. Thanks for your well detailed and fun read observing report Skyscanner, and best wishes on the remainder of your Messier Mission.
    - Marshall

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