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Thread: Observing a Halo Planetary Nebula

  1. #1
    Mark Moyer's Avatar
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    Default Observing a Halo Planetary Nebula



    I drove to the club site Monday morning to catch the last moonless skies for the cycle. I spent the whole time on AGC 1656, the Coma Cluster, which is a quite rich galaxy cluster. This was my second session on 1656, and I've only partially covered the central part of it. Most of what I saw was fairly uneventful -- just a bunch of galaxies -- occasionally an NGC, but mostly faint ones.

    Later that morning I took my sketch and was comparing it to an image of the area, using Simbad to tell me which galaxies I had seen. But one of the things I had seen Simbad told me was H 4-1, a 'halo planetary nebula'. A what?! After some sleuthing around on the web, I found a 2006 research paper saying that of the over 1,000 planetary nebulae known, 13 are halo planetary nebulae, which are nebulae far above the galactic plane (in contrast with most planetaries lying in the plane) and having low metalicity. (H 4-1 is not in AGC 1656 but happens to lie in line with it.) They think these planetaries are formed from low-mass stars that formed when the galaxy first formed (if they were high-mass, they would have ended their lives long ago), and they are useful because seeing what they're made of is helpful in piecing together the early evolution of the galaxy. Hey, that's sorta cool! The one I saw was pretty faint and so requires a larger scope, and I think almost all of them are, but looking through a partial list of halo planetary nebulae, I found that one of them is actually somewhat bright at mag. 10.9. And, in fact, it's a Herschel 400 object -- NGC 4361, in Corvus -- so many of us have already seen a halo planetary nebula!

    Thought I'd pass this along in case you too find this sort of stuff interesting.
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    Default Re: Observing a Halo Planetary Nebula

    Pretty darn cool, Mark! That's very interesting news on 4361. I had no idea.

    I caught that one back in June of 2015 during a session when my nephew Will was visiting:

    6. NGC 4361 - Planetary Nebula in Corvus - NEW - This planetary is a diffuse gray ball. With the OIII filter
    in, the contrast was improved, showing a defined edge all the way around. Without the filter and
    employing averted vision, the central white dwarf is discernible. Both Will and I could see the dim
    pinpoint that was the white dwarf in the center.

    Dang, man, I'm a little jealous of the views you are getting of 1656. Nothing but trashy skies here. One of these days, my friend, I need to get a bigger scope.

    Thanks for sharing the view with us, buddy.
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    Bryan
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    Observing: Herschel Tallies: H1 = 400/400 H2 =310/400 H3 = 212/300; 2,801 observations of 1,713 objects; Cracker - Low

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    Default Re: Observing a Halo Planetary Nebula

    Hello Marke,

    thanks for reminding me to observe this fairly large PN.
    It has been also reported by Ante Perkovic through the 25x100 binoculars.
    Best,

    JG
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    Default Re: Observing a Halo Planetary Nebula

    Thanks for the report Mark. I had not yet heard of this class of planetary nebula, so I've got 4-1 on my to do list. Sounds like a fun night.
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    Michael
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    Default Re: Observing a Halo Planetary Nebula

    Well done Mark. You are doing great with AGC 1656, but of particular interest is Haro 4-1 that you picked up. I went to my personal library to see what I could find on this one for you. My sources are the seminal work Planetary Nebulae by Steven Hynes and the Uranometria Deep Sky Field Guide. They both agree on a visual magnitude of 15.0. Though Hynes does not list a diameter or central star magnitude in Planetary Nebulae, the DSFG lists its diameter as 6" and the central star at 19.5 mag.

    I see this was discovered by astronomer Guillermo Haro in 1951. Here is a link to the discovery paper:

    1951PASP...63..144H Page 144
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    Default Re: Observing a Halo Planetary Nebula

    Nice session, Mark! Thanks for the info on halo PNs. I caught the Lawn Sprinkler PN (NGC 4361) last year without knowing how cool it is .

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Moyer View Post
    Most of what I saw was fairly uneventful -- just a bunch of galaxies -
    How did Bryan and Alan let it slide?
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    Default Re: Observing a Halo Planetary Nebula

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigzmey View Post
    Nice session, Mark! Thanks for the info on halo PNs. I caught the Lawn Sprinkler PN (NGC 4361) last year without knowing how cool it is .



    How did Bryan and Alan let it slide?
    Sometimes its best not to vocalize what one may be thinking! But there was some eye rolling that ensued!
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    Default Re: Observing a Halo Planetary Nebula

    Quote Originally Posted by KT4HX View Post
    Sometimes its best not to vocalize what one may be thinking! But there was some eye rolling that ensued!
    Yup!
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    Scopes: Apertura AD12 f/5; ES AR127 f/6.4; ES AR127 f/9.4; ES AR102 f/9.8; iOptron MC90 f/13.3; Orion ST80A f/5; Celestron Premium 80 f/11.4; Celestron C80 f/11.4; Meade NG60 f/10; Charmin TP40 f/2.2
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    Days since last observing session: 2; Sessions in last 30 days: 6; Last night's excuse: First light on C80, then the sky vomited...

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