November 2020 Monthly Challenges

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kt4hx
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November 2020 Monthly Challenges

#1

Post by kt4hx »

First off, if I may, a quick comment on the process we use for these challenges. I would suggest that at a minimum, the two challenges at least be in their respective celestial hemispheres. While I have no issues with M74, I feel it should not be included in the southern hemisphere. While it is indeed visible to many in the southern half of the globe, technically it is a northern object. Given the vast number of objects that fall within the visibility parameters used for the monthly challenges in both celestial hemispheres, I don't see a need to pull both objects in the same month from only one of them. Okay, off my soapbox! :)


NGC 457 (Cassiopeia, open cluster, mag=6.4, size=13.0', class=I3r):

I have observed this autumn and winter staple countless times over the decades. Variously nicknames the owl cluster, E.T. cluster, kachina doll cluster and dragonfly cluster, it is well suited for small to large apertures. In 10x50 binoculars I find the owl's eyes stand out well, though the overall cluster is only partially resolved. I have observed it using apertures of up to 12 inches. Here are my notes from one such observation with the 12 inch:

"The owl’s eyes (Phi Cass and HD 7902) were easy to spot in the RACI. At 84x, the field exploded with little jewels comprising the owl’s body and outstretched wings. Its eyes were sizzling diamonds dominating the field. Rich and very detached from the surrounding field, this cluster is one of the prettiest ones in the sky in my opinion and one of my personal favorites."


NGC 628 / Messier 74 (Pisces, spiral galaxy, mag=9.4, size=10.5'x9.5', SBr=14.2):

This spiral galaxy is often cited as the most difficult target in Messier's list of objects. Though it sports a reasonable visual magnitude, its face-on orientation and larger angular size reduces its average surface brightness noticeably. This creates problems for folks observing from areas of moderate to heavy light pollution, particularly with smaller apertures. As with all the Messier objects, I have observed it numerous times over the years from various locations and with different apertures. From a semi-dark area I suspected it in 10x50 binoculars, while from my typical suburban backyard it has been observed in both 10 and 12 inch scopes with little difficulty - though it could hardly be described as a showpiece. I even observed a supernova within M74 (SN 2013ej) with the 10 inch from our backyard. My most recent observation of this elusive galaxy is at our dark site with the 17.5 inch just last month, where I recorded it thusly:

"M74 was easily swept up at 110x it presented a large and very obvious rounded disk that was quite diffuse in appearance. The core was a broadly brighter central brightness. Using 152x and 198x it was quite pretty and large in the FOV, with hints of subtle spiral structure within the diffuse glow."
Alan

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Graeme1858
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Re: November 2020 Monthly Challenges

#2

Post by Graeme1858 »

kt4hx wrote: Fri Nov 20, 2020 3:05 am First off, if I may,

You're quite right of course, my fault, I should have checked. M74 with a dec of +15° rises to almost 55° even at my northern latitude! Future southern targets will be southern objects!

Thanks for the information filled report as always Alan. Your description of the Owl Cluster is very nice, I'm hoping for a clear night before the month ends so I can get a good look at it.

Regards

Graeme
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kt4hx
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Re: November 2020 Monthly Challenges

#3

Post by kt4hx »

Graeme1858 wrote: Fri Nov 20, 2020 7:09 pm
kt4hx wrote: Fri Nov 20, 2020 3:05 am First off, if I may,

You're quite right of course, my fault, I should have checked. M74 with a dec of +15° rises to almost 55° even at my northern latitude! Future southern targets will be southern objects!

Thanks for the information filled report as always Alan. Your description of the Owl Cluster is very nice, I'm hoping for a clear night before the month ends so I can get a good look at it.

Regards

Graeme
No problem Graeme, it was just something that really stood out to me. In fact, I was surprised that M74 would even have been suggested by anyone as a possible southern target. Seems to me that sort of defeats the purpose of highlighting an object from each celestial hemisphere. :)

NGC 457 is indeed a fine cluster that strikes a fine and curious figure in the eyepiece.
Alan

Astro Sky 17.5 f/4.5 Dob || Apertura AD12 f/5 Dob || Zhumell Z10 f/4.9 Dob
ES AR127 f/6.5 & ED80 f/6 on Twilight-II || Apertura 6" f/5 Newtonian on Twilight-I
ES 82° 24mm, 18mm !! Vixen LVW 65° 22mm !! TV Ethos 100° 13mm
Pentax XW 70° 10mm, 7mm, 5mm + barlows
DGM NPB Filter || Orion Ultra Block, O-III and Sky Glow Filters || Baader HaB Filter
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Astronomers, we look into the past to see our future." (me)
"What we know is a drop, what we don't know is an ocean." (Sir Isaac Newton)
"The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me...." (Blaise Pascal)
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BABOafrica
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Re: November 2020 Monthly Challenges

#4

Post by BABOafrica »

Nice report Allan.

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