Another issue was the cold. When I arrived at the house, there was still about four to five inches of snow on the ground and I had to shovel out my normal observing position so I didn’t have to slog around in the dark. About 1830 hours I set my gear up and aligned the finders, then returned to the house to get something quick and hot to eat. Before 1930 hours I finally stepped out. The temp was around 26° (F) with a “feels like” temp of 13° (F). Let the games begin!
Ethos 13mm (152x, 0.7° TFOV, 2.9mm exit pupil)
XW 10mm (199x, 0.4° TFOV, 2.2mm exit pupil)
My first port of call would be Gemini for a couple of this month’s
Moving over to the next northern challenge object this month, I easily swept up this fine open cluster at 110x just over 2° ENE of
Being the galaxy hunter that I am, it was time to pursue those denizens of the deep. Next to the border with Cancer I located my first one. Swept up with 110x, it presented a slightly bright small round glow with a bright non-stellar center. Using 199x it was an obvious round diffuse glow. Interestingly the central brightness initially noticed seemed less pronounced. (New)
Over 3° south of the previous galaxy, and about 16.5’ ENE of a wide pair of field stars (7th and 8th mag). It was picked up at 110x as a small and dim elongated homogenous stripe. Viewing with 199x it was an obvious object within the field, and now displayed an intermittent stellar core. I did not however pick up mag 13.8
I had previously observed this pair of galaxies a few years ago with the 10 inch from the dark site. However, there were two other dimmer galaxies nearby that I didn’t detect, so I returned to the field, about half a degree south of Castor. With 110x I first located the primary pair.
Studying the field northwest of
Then moving just south of
UGC 3829 (Gemini, spiral galaxy, mag=12.9, size=1.0’x0.8’, SBr=12.5):
Northwest of Castor I pulled down this spiral at 110x. It appeared as a dim and very small rounded puff with an intermittent stellar core. With 199x the galaxy was more obvious and the stellar core was seen steadily. (New)
Northeast of the previous object there is a small grouping of eight galaxies (
About 20’ WSW of
Just under 4’ WNW of
Turning over to chart 48-left in the IDSA, I located the mag 5.0 star 74 Geminorum. About 42.5’ WNW of the star I swept up this small round glow with 110x. Fairly bright to the eye, it displayed a non-stellar central brightness. Also viewed with 152x and 199x it was quite obvious in the field with its concentrated core brightness embedded within a diffuse envelope. (New)
Next up was this elliptical about 37.5’ northwest of the previous object. Initially at 110x, I only suspected its presence in the field as a fleeting dim mote. It was confirmed using 152x as a very small and very dim homogenous oval. Looking with 199x while more obvious it remained weak. I suspected a very intermittent stellar core within the disk. (New)
Another 38’ west of the last object I nailed down my next. Interestingly, despite its brighter listed magnitude (grain of salt here), it was more difficult than
Just southwest of the previous galaxy, and in the same field of view, I also suspected this very small and dim dust bunny at 152x. It took 199x to confirm its presence and it remained weak, but an intermittent stellar core was picked up as seeing shifted. (New)
Taking a break from galaxy hunting before heading into Lynx, I swung down to one of this month’s challenge objects. The famous Thor’s Helmet (or Duck Nebula if you wish) was easily swept up in the 8x50
Now moving into Lynx, I quickly spotted the field for this distant globular in the
I now returned to the program already in progress – finding some new galaxies! Just into Lynx from the northeastern corner of Gemini I scooped up this somewhat bright oval using 110x. Slightly large, it displayed a broadly brighter core. Dropping in the XW10 (199x) the galaxy was bright and obvious within the field. (New)
Turning to chart 24-left of the IDSA, I next targeted this barred spiral. Pretty bright and somewhat large oval at 110x, it displayed a broadly brighter central region. Viewing at 199x it was quite obvious in the field, plus something about its disk really piqued my curiosity. Studying it for a little bit I found its envelope to be unevenly illuminated. There seemed to be two dimmer sections on either side of the core and framed by brighter ones at the outer edges.
As is typical, when I note something of interest in a galaxy, I always make a note to check it later to see if there are any structural details that might account for what I saw. So after the session, I checked some images of the galaxy. What I found was this is a two armed barred spiral and images showed darker dusty areas on either side of the central bar, between it and the two spiral arms. That was a pleasing revelation indeed. (New)
Just over 1° west of the previous object is a very wide east-west line of three stars. Between the eastern-most (8th mag) and center star (7th mag) of this line I searched for this dim fuzz-bot. Nothing was seen at 110x, but at 199x I confirmed its presence as a very small and dim round homogenous dust bunny. Overall it was weak, but readily seen. (New)
Nearly 21’ SSW of the center star of the aforementioned line of three, I was able to pick up another very small and dim smudge of light with 199x. Though to my eye it was slightly dimmer than
Next up was this lenticular, which lies just over 1.5° northwest of the western-most star (6th mag HD 66175) in the previously mentioned line of three. This galaxy was located northeast of a pentagon pattern of 7th and 8th mag stars. First picked up with 110x, it presented a very dim and small round glow. Viewed with 152x and 199x it was obvious within the field, still small in extent and remained homogenous in appearance. (New)
This interacting pair, though overall dim were easily spotted at 110x as a very elongated perturbed glow. The two galaxies were distinct, but in contact. The northern one (
Turning the page over to chart 23, I next targeted this spiral 2.5° SSW of magnitude 4.0 HD 76943. Found with 110x, it was a small and dim homogenous oval. Even at 152x and 199x it remained weak and diffuse looking. (New)
I star hopped over to mag 4.6 HD 77912 about 2.5° to the southeast in search of my final object for the evening. Almost 1° to the SSE of this star I located my quarry. Small and dim, this oval was evenly illuminated across its disk at 110x. Viewing with 152x it remained weak but was still readily seen in the field. Using 199x it became obvious, though still homogenous in appearance. (New)
I decided that I’d finally had enough of the cold and tough seeing, so I packed it in around 2230 hours. Back inside warming up, I checked the conditions, and found it was now 20° (F) with a feels like of 9° (F). When the surface winds were calm, it wasn’t too bad, but when they gusted – brrrrrrrrrrr! Anyway, thanks for coming out and braving the cold with me. I hope you get a chance soon to get out under a clear (warmer) night sky.