Observing Session 20th February - Cloon Wood

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Date: 20th February 2006
Site: Cloon Wood, a site on the way from Enniskerry Village to Sally Gap.
Transparency: Good.
Seeing: Very Good.
Equipment used: NexStar 8 GPS, 13mm Nagler T6 (155x).

Arranged to meet John Flannery at Cloon and we began observing at about 8.30 pm. John's already posted his notes - here's mine of this very enjoyable observing session. We really would have liked to stay much longer than we did and observe the Virgo Cluster but the clouds intervened.

Checked out M42 just to see that alignment was fine then commenced the observing session. Basically just left the 13mm Nagler T6 in the whole time as the scope is accurate enough to place all objects within the FOV and it's a superb deep sky eyepiece.

First on the list was NGC 2621, Hubble's Variable Nebula in Monoceros. The nebula was really easy to see, a nice wispy wedge fanning northwards from R Monocerotis, the illluminating star at its southern tip.

Moved on to Orion and NGC 1788, a small group of two mag. 10 stars and two 12th mag. stars surrounded by a reasonably bright hazy patch. Although the nebula extends NE beyond the stars, I did not see this fainter part.

NGC 1977 is known as the Running Man Nebula but the vision of the Running Man is just a long exposure photographic effect. Through the eyepiece, 1977 appeared as a small open cluster with five bright stars and perhaps half-a-dozen fainter members. I Could easily see nebulosity around the three bright stars to the SE and around the bright star to the NW.

Took a peek at the gorgeous open cluster M67 (NGC 2682) in Cancer. At 155x, this ancient cluster almost filled the entire FOV and looked stunning with star chains and swirls everywhere. There is an obvious dark hole devoid of stars in the northern section. Too many stars to count, probably about 100.

Next was the dimunitive galaxy NGC 2775, also in Cancer. Although quite faint, it was clearly seen as being oriented NW - SE and had a bright stellar nucleus.

John mentioned he was trying for M76 in his binoculars so I targeted it with my NexStar 8. Quite a while since I last observed this very nice double-lobed planetary nebula. It looked really good, nice and bright with both lobes easily discernible with a clear pinch in the middle of the long axis. The southern lobe seemed a bit brighter than the northern lobe.

Moved on into Leo as it was now high enough in the east. First on the list was the NGC 3190 group of which 3190 is the brightest member. It's a fine bright spiral galaxy which was clearly elongated NW-SS and with a large bright elongated core. In the same FOV to the north-east was NGC 3193, the second brightest member. Considerably smaller than 3190, it appeared as a round concentrated spot with a stellar nucleus. NGC 3185, about 10 arcminutes SW of 3190 was visible as a concentrated halo with a bright nucleus and elongated NW-SE.I couldn't see the fourth and faintest galaxy in this group, NGC 3187.

NGC 2903 is a fine sight in medium size telescopes, a large oval shaped spiral galaxy elongated NNE-SSW, comprising a sizeable bright elongated core surrounded by fainter but still quite bright halo. Wonderful sight.

NGC 2964 and NGC 2968 form a nice double act with both galaxies in the same FOV. Both were quite faint oval shaped patches with 2964 clearly being the brighter. It was elongated almost E-W with no discernible core or nucleus while 2968 seemed to be elongated NE-SW.

NGC 3226 and NGC 3227 are a pair of interacting galaxies appearing very close together in the same FOV, just a couple of arcminutes apart. 3227 is a Seyfert galaxy and the larger of the pair. Both galaxies had bright stellar nuclei in somewhat amorphous shapes, although 3226 was rounder.

Also took a look at M81, M82, M51/NGC5195 and a few other well-known objects.

At this stage, the cloud cover began to grow substantially and the session began to grind to a halt. However, remembering supernova SN2006X in M100 (NGC 4321 - Coma Berenices), I dialled it in before M100 disappeared and John and I took a look. As I only could only recall that the SN was south of the core but not its exact position, we couldn't confirm that one or other of a couple of faint stars at the threshold of visibility was the SN and the clouds rolled over it before I could increase the magnification to tease these out better. It's mag. had risen to 13.85 on the 18th February as seen here on the discoverer's web site aac.sunrise.it/cross/2006X.htm so was probably 13.6 or so on the 20th and close to the limit of my 8-inch. Maybe we did glimpse it but would like another look at the weekend if clear.


Stargazer am I
It seems that I was born
to chart the evening sky

Mark Knopfler - Sailing to Philadelphia
16 years 11 months ago #24251

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Replied by martinastro on topic Re: Observing Session 20th February - Cloon Wood

Great report Gordon!
Martin Mc Kenna

coruscations attending the whole length of the luminosity, giving to the phenomena the aspect of a wrathful messenger, and not that of a tranquil body pursuing a harmless course..comet of 1680
16 years 11 months ago #24254

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