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Thread: Observing Report for 01 February 2019 - the sky giveth and the sky taketh away

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    Default Observing Report for 01 February 2019 - the sky giveth and the sky taketh away



    This outing began with what seemed to be some good potential, which, however, evaporated rather quickly. The forecast prior to 2200 was poor, with 2200 to 0100 predicted to be improved. However, I always approach the forecast from Clear Outside with a whole box of salt, rather than a single grain.

    So I headed out and found conditions weren’t too bad actually. The humidity was elevated and there were the occasional lazy cloud drifting through, so I opened the IDSA to chart 95-right and headed to Gamma Velorum to begin my evening trot through the sky.

    I will begin by saying that while I am not a dedicated pursuer of double stars, Gamma Vel is a beautiful four component star that is always fun to have in the eyepiece. Its brightest star is the “A” component Gamma2 Vel (Regor) at mag 1.9. Found to its SSW is the “B” component, mag 4.3 Gamma1 with a roomy separation of 41.4”. The “C” and “D” components lie in a line to the southeast that is perpendicular to the primary pair. They are mag 7.3 SAO 219505 which lies 62.5” SSE of Regor and mag 9.2 SAO 219506, at 34” southeast of SAO 219505. Their position relative to one another gives it the appearance of an Eifel Tower-like pattern aimed to the southeast. With small aperture I've found I need to push the magnification up a little bit to get the best view of them. I have always enjoyed taking a few moments to look at this group whenever I am far enough south to pick it up. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a decent view of Vela.


    NGC 2547 (Vela, open cluster, mag=4.7, size=20.0):

    This beautiful cluster is one I’ve observed before from this location. It lies just under 2° south of Gamma Vel and is easily swept up at low magnification. In the little newt at 20x it was a fine scattered field of about 15+ stars dominated by a curving flow of stars running north to south across the center of the field. There is a smaller circular pattern to the northwest with a minor void between them. With a little more magnification the main section takes on the appearance of an abstract backwards “2” figure, as a line kicks eastward from the bottom of the north-south trickle of stars. I didn’t spend a lot of time on this since I am quite familiar with it, but it certainly was a pretty way to begin the outing.


    Heinze 2-7 (Vela, planetary nebula, mag=12.4, size=45.0”, SBr=11.5 mag/arcmin2):

    Just north of NGC 2547 this planetary is plotted in the IDSA. Ordinarily I might not attempt such an object with the little newt under my conditions here, but it was close by and I felt I had nothing to lose. I centered the field north of the cluster and studied the plot in the atlas and the view of the field at 20x. I pushed the magnification up to 74x and studied the field intently. Nothing unusual caught my attention at the position of the PNe.

    Pulling the NPB filter from the case I blinked it between my eye and the 6.7mm ES 82 eye lens. Wait a minute, did something very dim pop up into the view in the right spot? So I pulled the filter back and studied the field once more. Then again with the filter, and yeah, there was a very dim and tiny mote of light that did not seem quite stellar. I repeated this multiple times at 74x and at 106x and each time this little speck of light appeared but would disappear with the filter out of the line path.

    I even employed a cloth over my head to block any possible reflections. I also use a homemade black foam OTA extension to keep extraneous light from entering the front end of the tube. I even took the added step of cleaning the filter to insure there wasn’t something on its surface that was causing this. This was indeed an interesting development that I can honestly say I did not expect. Initially I wasn’t even sure that I had seen what I thought I had, and that it wasn’t anything more than wishful thinking or averted imagination. But the repeated results indicated that the object was indeed there, so this was quite interesting indeed. I also noted its central star is mag 16.5, so that was definitely not going to happen.


    NGC 2663 (Pyxis, elliptical galaxy, mag=10.9, size=3.5’x2.4’, SBr=13.2 mag/arcmin2):

    By now the clouds were starting to pick up a little bit, so I quickly headed over to the celestial mariner’s compass on chart 83-right to see if I could possibly pick up the two brightest galaxies there. I figured after the previous object I had little to lose at this point. Quickly getting mag 3.7 Alpha Pyxidis in the eyepiece, I shifted my attention to a wide pair of 7th magnitude stars nearly 1° to its SSE.

    Centering the field just west of these stars I studied intently, again with the cloth over my head – and with the humidity it was steamy under there! Anyway, after a few minutes of flipping back and forth between direct and averted vision at 74x, I seemed to intermittently pick up a very small and very dim oval bit of diffuse light just east of a very dim field star. Moving up the 106x I again picked up this fleeting tiny diffuse presence by going back and forth between direct and averted vision. At times there seemed to be a dim star involved or a stellar core. I also noticed, at times, some very thin clouds drifting through the view and had to wait for them to clear. They weren’t totally obscuring the view, but definitely impacting it some. This was an omen of what was to come. But despite that, I accepted my dim reward in Pyxis and moved on.


    NGC 2613 (Pyxis, spiral galaxy, mag=10.3, size=7.2’x1.8’, SBr=12.9 mag/arcmin2):

    Remaining on chart 83-right and slowly star hopping my way NNE up the main line of Pyxis through Alpha to mag 4.0 Gamma, I then turned WNW for just over 3° to pick up Eta Pyx (mag 5.2). Sweeping northwest about 3.5° more brought me to a wedge or triangular grouping of six brighter stars (5th to 7th mag) straddling the Pyxis-Puppis border. Using the northernmost two stars as my guide, I followed their line eastward for about a degree to pick up a dim scalene triangle of three stars (8th and 9th).

    Along the southern side of this pattern I studied the field intently. As before, when I hit 74x, I had a fleeting suspicion of something there. My intermittently picked up a very small, very dim pencil of homogenous diffuse light. Using the cloth over my head and alternating between direct and averted vision reinforced this impression. Moving to 106x, it was clearly there but hanging on by a thread visually. It took patience and several minutes to confirm its presence. Once more I would occasionally pick up the presence of high thin clouds crossing the FOV, requiring patience as I waited for them to vacate the premises. This nearly edge-on galaxy was challenging in the little newt, but ever so slightly easier to pick up than NGC 2663 about 11° to the SSE.


    NGC 2566 (Puppis, barred spiral galaxy, mag=11.0, size=3.4’x2.3’, SBr=13.1, mag/arcmin2):

    I now moved over into Puppis on chart 85-right and aimed the scope at mag 2.8 Rho Puppis. I slowly moved southeast from the star over 2° to pick up a southeasterly pointed triangle of three stars (7th and 8th). The apex star at its southeast corner is the anchor of an asterism, Alessi J0817.5-2521 I observed two years ago from this location with the ED80. This barred spiral is located about 15’ southeast of the asterism.

    Studying the field at various magnifications, as with the previous two, at 74x I began to get a suspicion of a tiny and dim diffuse presence framed by a couple of dim field stars. Bumping up to 106x and alternating between direct and averted vision, I intermittently confirmed an oval dust mote of light was present at that position. When visible it was homogenous in appearance and definitely an extended object – though visually quite tenuous. The dark cloth over my head, blocking out the lights surrounding me definitely helped with the observation.

    This galaxy is the brightest member of the galaxy group Klemola 10. Its group mates consist of the mag 11.5 elliptical IC 2311 nearly 8’ to the north. plus two dimmer members, MCG -4-20-6 and MCG -4-20-5 just southwest of the elliptical. I did attempt IC 2311 but was not able to discern it to the north of NGC 2566.


    After this intensive observing and straining of the eye, I retreated indoors to take a break and handle some personal business. Though I had begun to notice that clouds were increasing slightly, the forecast () was still showing it to be clear for a while yet. I returned after an hour to find the sky about 90% obscured by low fluffy clouds. I sat for about 40 minutes peering into the occasional hole with my 10x50s, but otherwise, the sky stayed unusable. I had intended to take another shot at IC 2311 and the two brightest in Antlia again (after failing at those previously), but that wasn’t going to happen. So I packed it up and headed indoors for a shower (very sticky and humid out) and some sleep.

    So thanks for coming along yet again. This was an abbreviated journey, but a challenging and successful one nonetheless. I hope we can do it again soon, and in the interim, I wish you clear skies.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 01 February 2019 - the sky giveth and the sky taketh away

    Thanks for the report Alan and a very nice effort on those galaxies, showing once again that aperture is secondary to an experienced eye.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 01 February 2019 - the sky giveth and the sky taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by helicon64 View Post
    Thanks for the report Alan and a very nice effort on those galaxies, showing once again that aperture is secondary to an experienced eye.
    Thank you Michael. Obviously there are times when experience cannot overcome aperture, but often times we can surprise ourselves with just what we can accomplish with smaller apertures. That said, I really wish I had more aperture here!
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 01 February 2019 - the sky giveth and the sky taketh away

    Some nice challenges there, Alan! Nicely done.

    Clouds, clouds, and more clouds here. Looks like another busted dark cycle. Big surprise.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 01 February 2019 - the sky giveth and the sky taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by bladekeeper View Post
    Some nice challenges there, Alan! Nicely done.

    Clouds, clouds, and more clouds here. Looks like another busted dark cycle. Big surprise.
    Thanks buddy! I thought my eye was gonna pop out I was working so hard to ferret those out!

    No chance tonight as clouds have been the name of the game from the get go today. Apparently I used up what little good credit I had with the sky!
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 01 February 2019 - the sky giveth and the sky taketh away

    Well done!
    You sure pushed your small telescope up to the to the limits of its abilities. I like to do so once in a while, but you managed to do it five times in a row during one session! Chapeau!
    Thanks for sharing your skills with us!
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 01 February 2019 - the sky giveth and the sky taketh away

    Good to see that you were able to pick up some galaxies on this night Alan! The two Magellanic Clouds are the only galaxies I've seen on my two trips to Australia.

    I was fortunate to pick up NGC 2613 locally, my only galaxy in Pyxis. But that was down in the Salton Sea (green-blue zone).

    Since Gamma Velorum has the same declination as Omega Centauri, I could probably pick it up locally where there is an unobstructed view of the southern horizon.

    I have so far logged 4 objects in Vela - 3 OC's (not seen NGC 2547 yet) and 1 GC (NGC 3201).

    As I was house cleaning last night, I found a large rather detailed 6-panel foldout on the "Parramatta Observatory and the Study of the Southern Skies" that I picked up at Parramatta Park when I was there 2 years ago. Very interesting reading - made me go back and review the Dunlop article you provided here in AF earlier.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 01 February 2019 - the sky giveth and the sky taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by John Baars View Post
    Well done!
    You sure pushed your small telescope up to the to the limits of its abilities. I like to do so once in a while, but you managed to do it five times in a row during one session! Chapeau!
    Thanks for sharing your skills with us!
    Thank you John. I am used to pushing to the edge with the scope I have in my hand at the time under the prevailing conditions. I find it envigorating, rewarding, and yet tiring!


    Quote Originally Posted by terrynak View Post
    Good to see that you were able to pick up some galaxies on this night Alan! The two Magellanic Clouds are the only galaxies I've seen on my two trips to Australia.

    I was fortunate to pick up NGC 2613 locally, my only galaxy in Pyxis. But that was down in the Salton Sea (green-blue zone).

    Since Gamma Velorum has the same declination as Omega Centauri, I could probably pick it up locally where there is an unobstructed view of the southern horizon.

    I have so far logged 4 objects in Vela - 3 OC's (not seen NGC 2547 yet) and 1 GC (NGC 3201).

    As I was house cleaning last night, I found a large rather detailed 6-panel foldout on the "Parramatta Observatory and the Study of the Southern Skies" that I picked up at Parramatta Park when I was there 2 years ago. Very interesting reading - made me go back and review the Dunlop article you provided here in AF earlier.
    Thank you Terry. My problems with the LMC/SMC here are two-fold. One is the LP and general glaring from security lights. The other is that they neither one gain a lot of elevation here and I have serious tree problems to nearly 40° above the horizon from the SSE to the west. Actually I have a great deal of obstruction problems where I am forced to observe. But at least I have an opportunity to do so.

    That said, I have seen NGC 2070, the Tarantula Nebula within the LMC (between branches), just not its host galaxy. I did pick up 47 Tuc once as well in the pre-dawn hours of early June over two years ago very low above the horizon through the murk of the marine layer. But the nearby SMC was not picked up down in that stuff. That was from another location off an apartment balcony the morning I was departing - sort of my parting shot.

    As for Vela, you should also be able to pick up the nice planetary NGC 3132 (Eight Burst Nebula), just south of its border with Antlia. I don't know if your other Vela loggings were from Oz or Salton Sea.

    That was a nice find during your clean up. I think that would be an interesting place to visit, and I recall you posting your experience. Glad you liked the paper I linked to as well. Dunlop had his shortcomings of course, but I don't think he has gotten the credit or attention that he deserves.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 01 February 2019 - the sky giveth and the sky taketh away

    Thanks for cruising the night sky with you Alan!

    Like Michael said, experience can overrule aperture, but it does tire the eyes. At least mine anyway.

    Whenever I go after dim fuzzies, I like to finish the night with something bright and easy like M42 or M31 just to get the oh wow effect. To finish up with Saturn is a big slap in the eyeball!

    Thanks for your enjoyable read.

    Jim
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 01 February 2019 - the sky giveth and the sky taketh away

    Quote Originally Posted by Juno16 View Post
    Thanks for cruising the night sky with you Alan!

    Like Michael said, experience can overrule aperture, but it does tire the eyes. At least mine anyway.

    Whenever I go after dim fuzzies, I like to finish the night with something bright and easy like M42 or M31 just to get the oh wow effect. To finish up with Saturn is a big slap in the eyeball!

    Thanks for your enjoyable read.

    Jim
    Thank you Jim. Indeed it can be tiring. I know I've experienced spasms in the muscles around my observing eye a few times during particularly lengthy sessions of chasing galaxies back home. It does pay to take regular breaks, but when you get a head of steam going, sometimes its difficult to step away for even a few minutes!

    I too have at times finished up on a high note, as it were. It helps the eye relax a bit when it is given a brighter, more pleasing object to behold. Its also good for the well-being of the observer who has been chasing a lot of difficult objects as well.
    10538 and Juno16 like this.
    Alan || My DSO Blog:
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