I re-observed a couple of the challenge objects last night (09 Jan) from our dark site using the 17.5 inch dob
. This is part of a larger galaxy hunting session which will be reported in the Reports forum when completed.
First I attempted to pick up NGC
1851 in Columba despite it being less than 10° above the horizon at the time and having to really lower my observing chair. Despite the generally poor seeing of the evening and more importantly the thick air mass so close to the horizon, it was still a fairly large and bright round glow at 90x. There was no resolution of any stars as its light was a tad smeared by the turbulence I was looking through. In reality it was more of a blobular than a globular.
One of my best views of this fine object was about 11 years ago from a location around 17° north latitude using my then ST120 refractor. First it was easily seen in the 8x50 RACI
finder, then at 40x in the scope it was very bright, and somewhat large, round with an intensely bright core surrounded by an unresolved halo.
At the end of my outing, with Orion nicely elevated, I decided to pay a visit to M78 for the first time from our dark site house. Turning the big eye its direction it was quickly swept up at 110x as a large and very bright roundish (for lack of a better work) glow. Its two piercing eyes of 10th magnitude were staring right back at me rendering it a ghostly, ethereal apparition. I also noted the dim 13th magnitude star trying its best to poke through the haze near its southern edge. To my delight, I also picked up other dimmer sections of the larger nebula complex beyond the brighter portion that we know as Messier
2068) as detailed below:
2071 - A few arc minutes to the NNE of M78 I noticed this much dimmer, but still obvious glow surrounding a 9th magnitude star. While certainly more subtle than the nearby showpiece, it was nonetheless obvious at 110x. Its shape was a bit hard to pin down, more like a dim ghostly amoeba lazing nearby.
2067 - I also easily noticed this dimmer elongated glow immediately northwest of the primary structure, separated by a dark void. It was more ghostly in appearance than NGC
2071, but was still evident at 110x. I did not notice any stars involved.
2064 - I continued to study the field surrounding M78 and particularly to its southwest. As my eye relaxed further I gradually started to pick up traces of this smaller section of the overall complex southwest of M78. It was quite dim and diffuse to the eye at 110x, but there was no mistaking its presence in the field as a slightly elongated small soft glow. I did not notice any stars involved with this portion.
So with that let's hear from some of you about your own experiences with the objects in this month's list that you have access to. Good luck!