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Thread: Observing Report for 08 January 2019 - the milkman cometh

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    Default Observing Report for 08 January 2019 - the milkman cometh



    I finally had a chance to take the 4.5 inch newt out under what has been a very unforgiving sky thus far. Last night really wasn’t much different overall. It was characterized by fast moving large cotton clouds driven by high velocity winds to the point that when holes appeared they quickly disappeared as the next fluffs zipped through. This made the star hopping process difficult indeed. The winds, coupled with intermittent fields of high thin clouds, humidity approaching 90%, and an over-abundance of light made conditions tough for the little peeper.

    So with that, we move onward and upward, starting at the beautiful star Achenar as my launching point for the outing. I turned to chart 107-left in the IDSA and picked up the 10x50 binoculars to commence my journey. So off I flew into the night sky, sweating like a pig in the high humidity and heat, and cursing the unforgiving local conditions.


    NGC 1291 (Eridanus, barred spiral galaxy with ring, mag=8.5, size=9.8’x8.3’, SBr=13.0 mag/arcmin2):

    This barred spiral galaxy is informally known as the “Golden Eye” galaxy (and in some cases the “Snow Collar” galaxy ) for its appearance in images. This perception is enhanced by its ring structure surrounding the intense central bar. This object is also another example of multiple personalities within the NGC/IC. Discovered in 1826 by James Dunlop (D 287), it was later re-discovered by John Herschel in 1836 (h 2518). Herschel claimed to have seen both Dunlop’s object and this “new” one which subsequently led to Dreyer including both in the NGC without question.

    However, later observations by others determined that Herschel had made a duplicate observation of Dunlop’s object but with positional errors recorded, leading him to believe and report the presence of two different objects near one another. So Dunlop is credited with the galaxy’s discovery and its proper designation is NGC 1291, with NGC 1269 being designated as non-existent. Interestingly, I was a bit surprised to see that Stellarium incorrectly identifies this galaxy as NGC 1269. That just goes to show that even to this day, James Dunlop does not always get his due, sadly enough.

    Turing the IDSA to chart 98-left and using the 10x50 binoculars I back tracked up the river from brilliant Achenar (chart 107-left) at the southern end of Eridanus, until I found 82 Eridani (mag 4.3) not far above the border with Horologium. Aiming the scope (using a Rigel QF) at this star, I then nudged NNW slightly to a shallow east-west arc of three stars, with a similar and oppositely curved arc just to its north. Just ENE of the eastern most star in the first arc I studied the murky field for a bit to let my eye adjust. At 20x there was nothing discerned at the position of the galaxy. Bumping up to 56x I finally caught a glimpse of a very small and rounded diffuse presence in the field at the appropriate position. Using 74x I confirmed the galaxy in the field, but it remained poor visually against the murky sky. Even a quick look at 106x added nothing to its appearance as it was struggling to overcome the prevailing conditions.


    NGC 1433 (Horologium, barred spiral galaxy, mag=9.9, size=6.5’x5.9’, SBr=13.5 mag/arcmin2):

    Dropping back to 82 Eridani, I dropped the 25mm (20x) back into the focuser and nudged southeast about 6°. Here I picked up a triangle of field stars (mags 5.7, 6.5, 7.0). This galaxy forms a rectangle with these stars, pinned at the northwest corner of the pattern. While studying the field at 20x revealed nothing, trying 45x (11mm) yielded a fleeting suspicion of a diffuse presence. Bumping slightly up to 56x (8.8mm) confirmed this suspicion as my eye picked up a very small round puff of light sitting near a mag 11.9 field star. Taking a look at both 74x and 106x, in moments of the best clarity I could muster, there seemed to be a very slight uptick of central brightness within the halo. Regardless it remained small and poor visually.

    I had to go back inside for a while but did step back out an hour or two later to check on things. I found the conditions toward the south were problematic, but I could see Canis Major riding high and seemingly in the clear so I went there to see if I could pin down a couple open clusters near one of my favorites, NGC 2362 (Tau Canis Majoris Cluster).


    NGC 2354 (Canis Major, open cluster, mag=6.5, size=18.0’):

    Turning the atlas to chart 84-left, I quickly aimed the scope at Delta CMa (Wezen), and slipped northeast, quickly picking up NGC 2362. In smaller aperture it isn’t quite as nice as with one of my larger dobs, but it was nice to see the old friend again. Slipping easily back toward Wezen, and forming a triangle with 26 CMa (5.9) and 27 CMa (4.7) I spotted a dim concentration of stars at 20x. Observing at 45x and 76x I counted about 12 to 15+ stars in vague boxy grouping. It seemed slightly detached and somewhat compressed in appearance. Not a strong cluster visually under the conditions, but certainly discernible easily enough.


    ASCC 37 (Canis Major, open cluster, mag=unk, size=19.2’):

    Moving back to NGC 2362 and directing my attention to its immediate north to 29 CMa (4.8), I studied the field just northwest of this star using 20x. I had a vague sense of a small dim dusting of stars in the field, but nothing strongly visual other than 29 CMa. Observing at 45x to 76x I began to pick up a few individual stars, perhaps over a dozen of around 10th and 11th magnitude in a bit of a circular grouping. Overall it was not significantly detached from the general star field, nor particularly compressed.


    The clouds were making a comeback in a wider sense, so I retreated again, leaving the gear outside. After work I went back outside in hopes of seeing some more action, and initially I thought things weren’t too bad (relatively speaking). However, after my eyes started to adjust to the lower light level, then I could see that a wide spread pall of high thin clouds had assumed the position. Within minutes this changed, but for the worse. I watched as ripple after ripple of high elevation clouds overspread the area, with the sky taking on the appearance of curdled milk. At that, I gathered my things up and went in to take a shower and get some rest!

    So that was my first effort on this trip. As poor as it was, at least I did manage to drag four objects out of the crud with the little newt. I appreciate you following along with me and I do hope to get out there again sometime soon. Of course, eventually the moon will take its unwanted place in the night sky, thus forcing a break in action. But what else is new?
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 08 January 2019 - the milkman cometh

    Well, that’s not too shabby considering the conditions!

    It looks like, given a halfway decent sky, the AD is going to perform well for you. Having galaxies within your grasp this going around should fatten the ol’ logbook nicely, provided the sky plays nicely.

    Very nice reporting, Alan!
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 08 January 2019 - the milkman cometh

    Quote Originally Posted by bladekeeper View Post
    Well, that’s not too shabby considering the conditions!

    It looks like, given a halfway decent sky, the AD is going to perform well for you. Having galaxies within your grasp this going around should fatten the ol’ logbook nicely, provided the sky plays nicely.

    Very nice reporting, Alan!
    Thank you Bryan. I think if given a chance it will. One thing I know is that the stock focuser is problematic and will have to be dealt with at some point if I continue to use it for the longer term. I just hope that I do get some cleaner nights while here, and looking at some of my reporting from two years ago, I also lamented the clouds and general conditions.

    I think comparing the two scopes as far as visual quality go, the ED80 is certainly superior. While it may lose ever so slightly in how deep it can reach (at least on paper), there is a certain visual quality that the refractor has over the newt that makes it very appealing.

    I think to be honest of the scopes that I have traveled with, I would rather have the AR127 here, but that (with the T2) is a load to fly halfway around the world with securely.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 08 January 2019 - the milkman cometh

    Glad to see you made some inroads into your southern observations.

    And as Bryan mentions, the ability to dig out galaxies will be a good precursor of things to come.
    Have fun and good luck with those skies.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 08 January 2019 - the milkman cometh

    Thank you Alan for this report.
    I have enjoyed following along.
    Cheers
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 08 January 2019 - the milkman cometh

    Quote Originally Posted by kingclinton View Post
    Glad to see you made some inroads into your southern observations.

    And as Bryan mentions, the ability to dig out galaxies will be a good precursor of things to come.
    Have fun and good luck with those skies.
    Thanks Clinton. I am hoping over the course of this month things will shift. Though not to my liking, I can tolerate some cloudiness and having to work around their location in the sky. However, I will really get perturbed if its night after night of high humidity and soupy skies when its otherwise clear. We shall see as these coming two months unfold.

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Quixote View Post
    Thank you Alan for this report.
    I have enjoyed following along.
    Cheers
    Thanks Mark. I always appreciate you or anyone who cares to, following along.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 08 January 2019 - the milkman cometh

    Some excellent catches through the little scope. I'm assuming the light pollution wasn't too bad Alan.

    I'm really looking forward to Spring galaxy season. This winter has been rainy and cloudy, even more than last year.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 08 January 2019 - the milkman cometh

    I meant to ask, Alan, maybe a dumb question, but are you able to see Polaris at 5 degrees south?
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 08 January 2019 - the milkman cometh

    Quote Originally Posted by helicon64 View Post
    Some excellent catches through the little scope. I'm assuming the light pollution wasn't too bad Alan.

    I'm really looking forward to Spring galaxy season. This winter has been rainy and cloudy, even more than last year.
    Thanks Michael. The conditions are quite poor at the present time. I have typical suburban levels of sky glow, plus lots of ground light intrusion which I can't really do much about since it comes in from all directions. Then there is a marine layer and since humidity levels are in the 80% to 90% range every night, I am dealing with murkiness. That is why such bright galaxies as I did catch were quite dim and challenging. Thus with regard to galaxies, I plan to focus on the brightest ones I can find to target, preferably less than mag 10 and with higher surface brightness. But I will do the best I can with what is handed me.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 08 January 2019 - the milkman cometh

    Impressive observations with the 4.5 Newton. Nice story about Dunlop's object. You must have enjoyed it.
    In Dutch a 4.5 inch Newton is called an Elfje {Elf cm. (eleven)} Elf means fairy too. Your Elfje is a real fairy! Nice!
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