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Thread: Observing Report for 25 May 2019 - playing fog yo-yo

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    Default Observing Report for 25 May 2019 - playing fog yo-yo



    The second day/night of our stay at the dark site house was a combination of work about the property, thunderstorms and indecisive conditions. A strong afternoon thunderstorm passed through, which would presage fog later in the valley where we were. This indeed came to fruition as the sun was heading down and the air began to cool. I could see a lot of ground mist rising across the valley, while the sky above us was heavily clouded. So, I stretched out in the recliner and dozed for a while, not overly optimistic for the evening.

    Conditions were, to be polite, crap, when I awoke from my nap. So we watched television for a while and I would check conditions periodically. At 2030 hours things were still a mix of fog and clouds, with the check at 2130 being similar, though by now a few of the brighter stars were showing through breaks. When the clock hit 2230 the sky was showing promise, though there was still some lower levels of fog around, the sky was mostly clear. Plus, I had distant lightening flashes to the north and south though no thunder was heard. So with that I made the snap decision to roll the big feller out of the garage and set up my table and other accoutrement. Since I live by the credo that no good deed goes unpunished, after setting up my stuff, doing collimation and finder alignment, the fog made a speedy and aggressive comeback! By 2300 hours I was re-stowing the gear back in the garage and decided to capitulate as the fog was quickly gaining elevation, obliterating the sky above.

    Fast forward to about 2340, with trepidation I ventured out to the front porch to take a gander. Wouldn’t you know it, the fog had once more dropped and the sky had cleared and looked rather good considering the humidity levels. I still had the distant lightening flashes, but otherwise, things seemed fine. I had initially felt I would simplify things and just carry the Z10 out, but I decided to go whole hog and bring out the 17.5 inch yet again, with the idea that if things tanked again, that would be the end.

    So with my gear set up once more, collimation re-done and finder alignment fine tuned, I began a journey that I knew would only last for just over two hours at best before the moon was due to bring its disruptive presence to the sky. Just like the previous evening I observed mostly at 110x (18mm) and 181x (11mm), with the odd use of 297x (6.7mm). Since I concluded in Libra the last session, I decided to go back there to pick up where I left off, even though I knew conditions would be a little murky at the lower declinations due to the persistent fog near the ground. So with that, I turned the scope toward the bright double Alpha Librae (Zubenelgenubi) and the short session got underway, beginning on chart 68 of the IDSA.

    NGC 5796 (Libra, lenticular galaxy, mag=11.6, size=2.5’x1.8’, SBr=13.2):
    Just over 2 ESE of Alpha Lib I picked up this somewhat bright oval. Small in size visually, it sported an intermittent stellar core at 110x that became more evident at 181x.

    NGC 5793 (Libra, spiral galaxy, mag=13.2, size=1.7’x0.6’, SBr=13.0):
    In the same field of view as the previous object and about 4’ to its south I suspected this spiral’s presence at 110x. This was confirmed using 181x as a dim small, elongated homogenous glow.

    NGC 5791 (Libra, elliptical galaxy, mag=11.7, size=2.6’x1.3’, SBr=13.0):
    This elliptical was my next target and at 110x it appeared as a small and somewhat bright oval. Diffuse and evenly illuminated initially, at 181x an intermittent stellar core was detected.

    IC 1077 (Libra, barred spiral galaxy, mag=12.6, size=1.4’x1.1’, SBr=13.0):
    About 20’ of NGC 5791 I nailed down this small round dust bunny. Subtly bright, it was homogenous in appearance. Viewed at 181x and 297x a dim foreground star was visible slightly off-set from the center of the galaxy.

    ESO 581-16 (Libra, elliptical galaxy, mag=12.8, size=1.4’x0.6’, SBr=12.6):
    Slipping east of NGC 5791 about 44’ I swept up this subtle oval of fuzzy light. Small and homogenous, it became more apparent at 181x, yet remained dim overall.Despites its listed data it was simply not a strong presence in the field.

    NGC 5863 (Libra, barred spiral galaxy, mag=12.8, size=1.4’x1.2’, SBr=13.3):
    Next up was this barred spiral. Viewed at 110x it was a subtly bright small round homogenous glow. With 181x and 297x an intermittent stellar core was present, otherwise it remained diffuse in appearance.

    NGC 5897 (Libra, globular cluster, mag=8.4, size=11.0’, SBr=13.3, class=11):
    Noticing on chart 68-left that this globular was SSE of NGC 5863 I decided to re-visit this previously observed object. My only observations of this cluster were with smaller aperture under brighter skies where it was elusive. I was glad I decided to visit it with more aperture under dark skies as the difference was exponential. I only observed it with 110x but it was big and very in your face within the field of view. Its lack of concentration was readily apparent as it was evenly illuminated across its dimension. But there were several curves and swirls of stars on its near side resolved across the face, with the ever present backdrop of unresolved haziness of the main body of the cluster. Overall it was round in shape though the edges seemed slightly ragged. It was quite stunning actually and well worth the little sidetrack to see it in a way that I could truly appreciate its delicate beauty.

    NGC 5890 (Libra, lenticular galaxy, mag=12.6, size=1.5’x1.0’, SBr=12.9
    Found with 110x this lenticular presented a slightly dim oval that was small in size and homogenous in appearance. Trying with 181x it gave the impression of a thick oval and remained diffuse across its angular dimension. A dim 13.9 mag field star was noted just off its eastern tip.

    NGC 5756 (Libra, barred spiral galaxy, mag=12.3, size=2.1’x0.9’, SBr=12.9):
    Moving northwest of Alpha Lib I found this barred spiral. It was slightly bright at 110x, and presented as a homogenous small and elongated glow. Viewed with 181x, a fleeting stellar core became evident within its center.

    IC 1055 (Libra, spiral galaxy, mag=12.6, size=2.2’x0.8’, SBr=12.7):
    I next swept up this small sliver of homogenous light at 110x. Subtly bright, even at 181x it remained a diffuse thin chalk mark of light.

    NGC 5745 (Libra, spiral galaxy, mag=12.5, size=1.7’x1.2’, SBr=13.1):
    Despite its numbers, this spiral appeared very dim at 110x, presenting a small and diffuse oval. Viewed with 181x and then 297x I picked up what seemed a perplexing secondary enhancement that I initially suspected of being a second galaxy at its southern edge. However, during after session research I found that this galaxy is bisected along its major axis by a dust lane, which is evident in images. While I did not directly observe this structural detail (as one might in NGC 4565 or NGC 891) I believe what I was seeing was its visual impact of splitting the galaxy into two distinct light sources.

    NGC 5742 (Libra, barred lenticular galaxy, mag=13.0, size=1.3’x0.5’, SBr=12.3):
    Spotted at 110x, this galaxy was slightly bright. Small and oval, it appeared homogenous overall. There was no real change in its appearance at 181x however.

    NGC 5741 (Libra, elliptical galaxy, mag=13.6, size=1.1’x1.1’, SBr=13.5):
    Just over 7’ southeast of NGC 5742, I pinned down this little bit dim round glow in the same field of view. Overall all it presented as homogenous, an appearance that didn’t change at 181x.

    An interesting aside here is that the IDSA has the labels crossed for these two galaxies. They label what is NGC 5741 as NGC 5742 and vice versa. Ordinarily the labels shown in the atlas would be correct as NGC labels typically increment upward with increasing R.A. However, exceptions to this rule do exist and this is one of those cases. Just another of the little errors I find from time to time in the atlas. It’s no big deal, but something that is avoidable in my view.

    NGC 5605 (Libra, barred spiral galaxy, mag=12.3, size=1.6’x1.3’, SBr=13.0):
    Moving westward toward the border with Virgo I swept up this small but somewhat bright barred spiral. Rounded in shape, it appeared diffuse and evenly illuminated. This characteristic held even at 181x.

    NGC 5595 (Libra, barred spiral galaxy, mag=12.0, size=2.2’x1.2’, SBr=13.0):
    Moving southward from the previous object, and passing over an asterism I’d previously observed (Alessi J1423.7-1256), I picked up this somewhat large yet little bit dim elongated glow. Diffuse with no central brightness, it didn’t improve appreciably at 181x.

    NGC 5597 (Libra, barred spiral galaxy, mag=12.0, size=2.1’x1.7’, SBr=13.2):
    In the same FOV and about 4’ to the southeast of the previous galaxy, I spotted this somewhat large and dim glow. Round and homogenous, its appearance changed little when viewed at 181x.

    NGC 5728 (Libra, spiral galaxy, mag=11.3, size=3.1’x1.8’, SBr=13.1):
    Sliding back east I easily spotted this somewhat bright and small elongated diffuse glow. Sporting a stellar core that grew in intensity at 181x, it was clearly dominant in its field.


    I finally became tired of the murkiness of the sky toward the lower southern declinations and the resulting difficulties at keeping good focus in the eyepiece. To that end I swung the scope in a different direction in hopes of more stable viewing. Pondering a moment, I remembered that I had not observed the beautiful low surface brightness galaxy NGC 6946 (aka Fireworks Galaxy) that straddles the Cygnus-Cepheus border. So that would be my first port of call in the last third of my evening before the moon brightened the sky.


    NGC 6946 (Cygnus, barred spiral galaxy, mag=8.8, size=11.5’x9.8’, SBr=13.8):
    I now turned to the IDSA chart 9-left to continue on with my journey. In locating the field for this galaxy, which was easy enough, I immediately noticed that the view in this direction and elevation was much cleaner, which bode well for the last part of my journey. Aiming the scope at mag 4.3 Eta Cephei, I slipped SSW 2 and the galaxy slid into view. It was large and diaphanous in appearance. I settled in with 110x to study it a few moments.

    I have only observed this one from our moderately light polluted back yard with the 10 and 12 inch, where it was challenging as a very dim round patch of haze. In this case, with more aperture and significantly darker skies, it was wonderful. It presented as a large and bright oval that had a diffuse appearance. As I continued to observe its spiral structure began to take form to my eye. Not in a bold manner, but rather in a subtle sense. I could detect the delicate swirl of its arms arcing outward from a core that exhibited a very slight increase in brightness. Beautiful and subtle it was such a graceful object, like fine grain sugar spun into cotton candy.

    NGC 6824 (Cygnus, spiral galaxy, mag=12.2, size=1.7’x1.2’, SBr=12.8):
    Enjoying the cleaner views in the direction of Cygnus, I decided to work some galaxies there, remaining on chart 9 for a bit. This small oval presented as somewhat bright at 110x. I noted an intermittent stellar core that was held steady at 181x, plus a couple of dim foreground stars imposed upon the galaxy’s halo.

    UGC 11453 (Cygnus, spiral galaxy, mag=12.0, size=1.7’x1.3’, SBr=12.7):
    Nearly 3 southwest of NGC 6824 I swept up this small and rounded glow at 110x. Dim and homogenous, I found its visual presentation out of line with the data I found for it in the Uranometria DSFG. I was expecting a much brighter object, but that was not the case here, despite being 100% certain of its identification. Even at 181x it wasn’t a significant presence in the field. Unfortunately this was just another example of having to take such info with at least a small grain of salt.

    NGC 6798 (Cygnus, lenticular galaxy, mag=13.2, size=1.6’x0.9’, SBr=13.5):
    Moving WSW toward mag 3.8 Kappa Cygni, I pulled down this very small and dim pip of diffuse light at 110x. Viewed with 181x it was a small and dim oval with even illumination and no hint of central brightness.

    NGC 6764 (Cygnus, barred spiral galaxy, mag=11.8, size=2.3’x1.3’, SBr=12.9):
    Moving southwest from Kappa I located this somewhat bright and slightly large oval glow snuggled up against the border with Draco. At 110x I picked up hints of very dim foreground stars involved in the galaxy’s envelope. With 181x I counted at least three dim stars imposed upon the homogenous halo.

    NGC 6826 (Cygnus, planetary nebula, mag=8.9, size=0.5’, SBr=7.1):
    Since I was near the so-called “Blinking Planetary” I decided to stop a moment to take a gander. At 110x it was bright and large in the field of view as a pale blue orb, with its mag 10.4 central star very obvious. With this aperture the blinking effect is not as noticeable as with smaller apertures. Using direct vision there is some shrinkage of the planetary envelope and increase of central star visibility, but it’s not as prominent. When viewed with averted vision the envelope did increase in size and the presence of the central star decrease, but again, the differences were not as noticeable as with less aperture. Nonetheless, it was still a pretty object worthy of a short detour.

    UGC 11465 (Cygnus, spiral galaxy, mag=12.8, size=1.2’x1.2’, SBr=13.0):
    Just west of the bright planetary and north of 16 Cyg I scooped up this very small and dim round glow. Viewed all the way up to 297x it remained very small and somewhat dim visually, and lacked any central brightness.

    MCG+8-36-3 (Cygnus, spiral galaxy, mag=13.8, size=0.8’x0.7’, SBr=12.8):
    Just to the south of UGC 11465 between it and 16 Cyg, I picked up this little spiral. At 110x it was difficult but seen. Even at 181x and 297x it was very small and dim. Round in shape it remained a diaphanous glow with no perceived central brightness.

    Messier 51 / NGC 5194 (Canes Venatici, spiral galaxy, mag=8.4, size=11.2’x6.9’, SBr=12.9):
    NGC 5195 (Canes Venatici, barred lenticular galaxy, mag=9.6, size=5.8’x4.6’, SBr=12.9):
    The sky was brightening along the eastern side of the valley where the moon was coming up beyond the ridgeline. So, deciding to call it a night, I moved into Canes Venatici for a couple of final objects. Since I re-observed NGC 6946 earlier, with its very delicate spiral structure I thought I would try Messier 51 and its more obvious spiral detail as a comparison.

    Finding its field is a simple act of memory since I’ve been there so many times over the years. At 110x it was quickly and easily swept up as a large and bright oval, along with the oval of its companion NGC 5195. Settling in for a bit I studied the field and the first thing apparent was the bright cores embedded within both galaxies. Then as my eye relaxed and adjusted to the view, the very obvious spiral structure of M51 took form. This feature was much bolder than was that of NGC 6946. It was easy to see the bright curve of the arms contrasted with the dark lanes lining them.

    I next studied the area between the two galaxies. After a moment the connecting bridge of gas and dust was clearly seen. The whole package was there boldly and brightly at 110x and a true treat since it’ has been a while since I’d taken any time to view these objects.

    SN 2019ein (Canes Venatici, supernova in NGC 5353):
    My final act for the evening was to re-visit the supernova in NGC 5353 that was observed the evening before. I really didn’t do any comparisons to surrounding stars. Rather I simply wanted to behold this tiny little diamond embedded in the halo of the lenticular galaxy while I had the chance. Initially seen at 110x, it became a steady presence at 181x. How long its show will last I am uncertain. But, it serves as a reminder of the the forces at work within our universe that allow a single star around 110 MLY distant to become visible to our small scopes, if even for a brief time.


    And with that, the outing was over. The sky was getting increasingly brighter as I was stowing the gear back in the garage. I was indeed happy that I had endured the yo-yo action of the fog as it rose, fell, rose again and then fell for good. Actually sometime after 0100 a breeze developed from the south and it warmed the air. The temps were in the mid-60s give or take and I was out in shorts and a t-shirt for the entire session, and felt comfortable.

    Thanks for tagging along on my two nights under a dark sky. Though conditions were not superior they were quite fine for me and my big light scoop to do what we do and enjoy best – galaxy hunting. Until next time, keep looking up friends.
    Last edited by KT4HX; 05-28-2019 at 06:41 PM.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 25 May 2019 - playing fog yo-yo

    Looks like hanging in there paid off...lots of great targets, Alan! I followed your trail through Libra on Stellarium. Stellarium indicates a surface brightness of 14.47 for NGC 5741! You really went dark and deep!!!

    Dave
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 25 May 2019 - playing fog yo-yo

    Hello Alan,

    many thanks for the nice narrative and for the great observing report!

    It looks like you have completed Libra, and started a great hunt in Cygnus - a prelude to the summer season.
    Well, that UGC in Cygnus, it should be visible even through my 6inch achro, but nothing, not a slightest trace in averted imagination,
    and now reading your report, I know, I don't need to try again.

    Clear skies,

    JG
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 25 May 2019 - playing fog yo-yo

    Those were two days of great galaxy hunting. I am impressed!
    Thanks for sharing with us!
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 25 May 2019 - playing fog yo-yo

    Quote Originally Posted by combat48 View Post
    Looks like hanging in there paid off...lots of great targets, Alan! I followed your trail through Libra on Stellarium. Stellarium indicates a surface brightness of 14.47 for NGC 5741! You really went dark and deep!!!

    Dave
    Thanks Dave. Most every source one checks has slight (and sometime not so slight) differences in magnitude and surface brightness. That is why I tend to take most sources with some modicum of salt. All one can do is stick with ones they feel comfortable with and plow ahead.

    Actually an SBr of 14.47 isn't so difficult with the 17.5 inch in a dark area (or even the 10 or 12 for that matter). Remember, SBr alone is not the whole story, as one must consider the visual magnitude as well. Consider that M101 with a magnitude of around 7.9 and its dim SBr of about 14.9. People see it all the time in small instruments even from light polluted areas, yet people see it all the time, albeit dimly in many cases.

    I have found that surface brightness has more impact at home under light pollution than it does at the dark site with significantly less LP. That of course doesn't mean it is not important, just not as important there as compared to home. From the dark site I have observed galaxies with a visual magnitude of nearly 16.0 which is nothing to sneeze at. Of course many of those have a brighter surface brightness due to their smaller angular size. From that area I have observed such things as IC 2574 at mag 10.4, but with an SBr of about 14.81 with the 12 inch and NGC 6822 at mag 8.7 and SBr of 14.31 with the 10 inch. But all that said, I know the 30 inch you have access to would kick the butt of my 17.5!



    Quote Originally Posted by j.gardavsky View Post
    Hello Alan,

    many thanks for the nice narrative and for the great observing report!

    It looks like you have completed Libra, and started a great hunt in Cygnus - a prelude to the summer season.
    Well, that UGC in Cygnus, it should be visible even through my 6inch achro, but nothing, not a slightest trace in averted imagination,
    and now reading your report, I know, I don't need to try again.

    Clear skies,

    JG
    Thank you JG. Well I am not done with Libra as there are still more there for my to gather. However, conditions were a bit problematic in that direction on the second night and on the first evening, some of them had drifted behind a tree. So I hope to return there again at some point to mop up some more of them before I call the constellation more or less completed.

    There are still several in Cygnus to capture, and I have plans for going back into Equuleus and Delphinus, as well as Sagitta to pursue more galaxies at some point. Having the big scope at the dark site insures that I will never run out of galaxies to pursue!

    Quote Originally Posted by John Baars View Post
    Those were two days of great galaxy hunting. I am impressed!
    Thanks for sharing with us!
    Thank you John. I was quite pleased with the results, though I felt with better conditions I could have mopped up a few more in the alloted time.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 25 May 2019 - playing fog yo-yo

    Hi Alan. A superlative report from you here. That's a nice haul of galaxies on your sessions. While we don't have the severe weather that the midwestern states has had, it is the same high humidity, dew, and rain here for days. Thanks for your excellent and well written report Alan, and keep looking up.
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    Default Re: Observing Report for 25 May 2019 - playing fog yo-yo

    Quote Originally Posted by Makuser View Post
    Hi Alan. A superlative report from you here. That's a nice haul of galaxies on your sessions. While we don't have the severe weather that the midwestern states has had, it is the same high humidity, dew, and rain here for days. Thanks for your excellent and well written report Alan, and keep looking up.
    Thank you Marshall. Yeah, you all have issues of your own there. At home we have that humidity too which turns the summer night sky to murk. At least over at the other house where those sessions were held it is cooler at night and generally not sticky with humidity or rampant with mosquitoes!
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