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Thread: Another Evening of Leo Galaxies and Ursa Major Treats

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    Default Another Evening of Leo Galaxies and Ursa Major Treats



    It's raining outside, so I though I would copy and paste this from my journal entry of last Thursday evening's observing session:

    I took out the telescope late this evening, along with my trusty Uranometria 2000 sky atlas, to check out some more galaxies in Leo before the waxing moon washes out the view in the next couple of days and the constellation disappears altogether into the late northern twilight within a month. Transparency was about average. By 11:00p the sky was dark, except for the feeble light of the moon—about fifteen percent illuminated—and I aimed the scope at Regulus. From there, using the setting circles, I moved 36 minutes of RA to the east and found the spiral M95, glowing at mag 9.7; and just to the east, M96, another spiral, but slightly brighter at mag 9.2. Both were large and distinct at 63X and 105X, with brighter cores.

    About a degree to the NE I viewed a triangle of galaxies, M105, NGC 3384, and NGC 3389. M105 was similar in brightness to the previous Messier objects, but a bit smaller. NGC 3384 was a fainter, but distinct patch of light (mag 9.9), but NGC 3389 was considerably fainter at mag 11.9, and would be easy to overlook or miss in brighter skies or if you didn’t know it was there. As long as I was in the area, I decided to check out a couple of other faint fuzzies about a degree and a half to the north—NGC 3367 and NGC 3377. Appearing as small, featureless patches of light, mags 11.5 and 10.4, respectively, I pondered the fact that these galaxies were close by cosmic standards (around 31 million light years), but still desperately remote to any rational mind.

    Moving east, I checked out M65 and M66 shining at mags 9.3 and 8.9, respectively. These were definitely the highlights of the night, being bright and distinct. Just to the north could see the galaxy NGC 3628, a first for me. It appeared as a slightly twisted smear of light. Although almost as bright as M65, it appears much fainter due to its low surface brightness, which is probably why Messier and Mechain missed it back in the 1700s. I can see M65 and M66 fairly easily in 10X50 binoculars, but not NGC 3628. However, I was able to view all three a bit later in the evening with 15X70 binoculars. My last object viewed through the telescope was NGC 3593 a little over a degree west of M65. It appeared as another elongated smudge of light, glowing at mag 10.9.

    After covering the telescope for the night, I pulled out a couple of pairs of binoculars. Through the 15X70s I could see M108 as a fuzzy star, the last in a line of three. M97 was visible nearby as a tiny disc. I have seen both of these objects with 10X50 binoculars as well. M101 was a very distinct, pale disc of light in the 15X70s, but just for fun, I tried to replicate an observation I did at least a decade ago while on a canoe trip—view M101 through tiny, 10X24 binoculars. With some effort, and knowing exactly where to look, I was able to view the galaxy, but it was near the edge of visibility, and I suspect these may be about the smallest optics that will reveal M101.
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    Default Re: Another Evening of Leo Galaxies and Ursa Major Treats

    A fine report on a rainy night, and a very nice tour of Leo and Ursa Major.

    I think I need to try M101 in my 10x50's. I tried for it in desperation when I first started out, not knowing exactly what I was looking for. It will be interesting to see how I fare with some experience under my belt.

    Thanks for this great read Arctic. I hope the rain and clouds part for you soon.
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    Default Re: Another Evening of Leo Galaxies and Ursa Major Treats

    Thanks for the report. You did well to catch some of the slightly fainter galaxies in Leo in addition to the Messier objects. One does indeed wonder how Charles managed to miss so many of these, but in fact he did.

    Good catches in Ursa Major as well. I've tried M101 in the 10x50's and thought I saw it once from a dark sky location in Washington where I happened to be vacationing, but at home it requires good transparency and the 15x70's.

    I hope the good weather comes back for you.
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    Default Re: Another Evening of Leo Galaxies and Ursa Major Treats

    Nice report. Sounds like a pleasurable evening sliding through Leo, which has many nice galaxies within its borders. Picking up M101 with 10x24s is nice indeed, and is a testiment to your sky quality. I have seen others mention just discerning it in 7x50s, so excellent job. Enjoy those dark northern Minnesota skies!
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