Observer’s Challenge Objects: 2018-2017-2016-2015-2014-2013-2012-2011-2010-2009

Observer’s Challenge Objects for 2018:   Our tenth Year!    

January:  NGC 1624 – Nebula + Cluster; Perseus; Mag. 11.8; Size 5′ 

15 cm reveals this nebula faintly as a diffuse glow lying mostly N of  mag. 12 star that has two fainter companions E and SE.  With 25 cm the nebula remains fairly faint.  The cluster is poor, containing only a dozen stars in an L-shaped asterism with the brightest star at the bend.  Skiff and Lunginbuhl  Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects

Image provided by Dr. James Dire, using 10-inch Newtonian reflector.  Exposure 80 mins. (8 x 10) 

NGC1624

RA:  O4h 40.6m    Dec.  +50º 28′ 

 

February:  M41 – Open Cluster; Canis Major; Mag. 4.5; Size 39′ 

The famous red star at the center of the cluster has a visual magnitude of 6.9 and a K3 spectrum.  Mallas The Messier Album 

A grand view in the Mallas 4-inch refractor, and indeed one of the finest open clusters for very small apertures.  The brightest members form a butterfly pattern, but the cluster as a whole is circular, with little concentration.  The 4-inch shows the Espin star as plainly reddish.   John Mallas  The Messier Album

Red star near center shows clearly.  A lovely site in a 4-inch at 45x.  Visible to the unaided eye on a dark, moonless night.   James Mullaney  Celestial Harvest 

M41 has always been one of my favorite deep-sky objects.  Over the years, on many nights, I would take a pair of binoculars outside, just to look at this beautiful cluster.  However, needing a small telescope to see the famous Espin star.  I would also look at other bright deep-sky objects, including the double cluster, the Andromeda galaxy and others during the winter.  I have my favorite bright spring and summer objects also.  This might be some akin to the following quote by Peltier.   Roger 

“Were I to write out one prescription designed to alleviate at least some of the self-made miseries of mankind, it would read like this: “One gentle dose of starlight to be taken each clear night just before retiring.”  Leslie Peltier 

Image by James Dire

M41

RA:  06h 46.1m    Dec.  -20º 46′

 

March:  NGC 2371/2 – Double Planetary; Gemini; Mag. 11.2; 

My little refractor (105 mm) at 87x shows a small oblong oblong nebula nebula.  At 174x, I can distinguish the lobes, the southwestern one being brighter.  In my 10-inch reflector at 166x, each half grows brighter toward an off-center patch, and the southwestern lobe holds a starlike-spot.  Adding an O-III filter makes this spot stand out much better indicating that it’s not a star but, rather, a tiny intense knot in the nebula.  At 213x without a filter, I see faint haze between the lobes and in a thin envelope around them…..

The 14.8-magnitude central star that is nestled between the main lobes has been glimpsed through 11-inch and larger scopes at high magnification without a filter.  Sue French   Deep Sky Wonder’s  A Tour of the Universe

RA:  07h 25.6m    Dec.  +29º 29′ 

 

April:  M81/82 –  Galaxy Pair; Ursa Major;

In a 4-inch telescope at low power, M81 appears as a bright oval haze without detail and M82 shows a slim grey needle of uniform light.  An 8-inch scope with high power reveals a huge low-surface-brightness halo of nebulosity around M81 and dusty patches crossing M82’s sharp surface.  M82 shows a highly condensed nucleus at high power.   David J. Eicher  The Universe from Your Backyard  A guide to Deep-Sky Objects from Astronomy Magazine 

M81:  RA: 09h 55.6m    Dec.  +69º 04′       M82:  RA: 09h 55.9m    Dec.  +69º 41′

 

May:  NGC 4236 – Galaxy; Draco; Mag. 9.6; 

In my semi-rural skies, I notice NGC 4236 easily through my 105mm refractor at 47x.  It’s oval form leans north-north-west and is sheltered by a distinctive pattern of stars that helps pinpoint it’s exact position.  NGC 4236 appears large in our sky because it’s relatively nearby….only 14 million light-years away.   Sue French  Deep-Sky Wonders 

10.7M; 22′ x  5′ extent; diffuse, N-S oriented slash; very large!  best seen at 50x in wide field….  Tom Lorenzin  The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing 

RA:  12h 16.7m    Dec.  +69º 28′

 

June:  M51 (NGC 5194) and NGC 5195 – Interacting Galaxies; Canes Venatici; Mag. 8.4/9.6

8.1M; 11′ x 8′ extent, “Whirlpool”!  Large, round spiral with stellar nucleus; spiral arms readily visible with 8-inch, and larger aperture; 12M star just S of nucleus; IRR Gal NGC 5195 (11M; 2′ x 15′ extent) satellite system of M51 due N at the end of very soft NE-side filaments.   Tom Lorenzin  The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing 

RA:  13h 29.9m    Dec.  +47º 14′ 

 

July:  M4 – Globular Cluster; Scorpius; Mag. 5.6; 

A faint spot to the naked eye, Messier 4 appears as a broad and weakly concentrated glow in 6 cm.  At 75x the irregular core sparkles with a few stars, the brightest ones lying on the S side.   Skiff and Lunginbuhl  Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects

Near Antares are three fine globulars, one of which is exceptional.  M4 is one of the most easily resolved such clusters in small telescopes because of its large diameter of 23′ and loose, unconcentrated structure.  On nights of fine transparency, a good 4-inch telescope at high power can resolve the entire face of the group into pinpoint multitudes of stars.   David J. Eicher  The Universe from Your Backyard  A guide to Deep-Sky Objects from Astronomy Magazine 

Centrally resolved in 6-inch and larger apertures, which show faint stars in apparent chains and give the impression of dark lanes crossing the cluster.   James Mullaney  Celestial Harvest 

Image by James Dire 

M4

RA:  16h 23.6m    Dec.  -26º 32′  

 

August:  IC 1295 – Planetary Nebula; Scutum; 

Although IC 1295 is fairly large, it has a low surface brightness.  The planetary is tough to spot through my little refractor at low power, but I can keep its faint, round, uniform glow steadily in view at 87x with averted vision.  My 10-inch reflector at 219x uncovers a faint star embedded in the southeastern edge of the nebula. Adding an O-III filter, I see hints of structure….darker patches within and some brighter patches along the rim.   Sue French  Deep-Sky Wonders 

In 25 cm this is a large and diffuse planetary, seeming to lie in front of the rich star field:  two superposed mag. 13.5 stars near the E and W edges to be behind the nebula.  The ghostly blob is a nearly circular, almost uniformly bright glow.  At 200x a faint stellar ring is visible on the NW edge.   Skiff and Lunginbuhl  Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects

RA:  18h 54.6m    Dec.  -08º 50′ 

 

September:  NGC 6818 – Planetary Nebula; Sagittarius; Mag. 12.5;

10M; 22″ x 10″ extent; very small but bright and oblong; Barnard’s Galaxy NGC 6822 45′ to SSE.    Tom Lorenzin  The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing 

RA:  19h 44m    Dec.  -14º 09′  

 

October:  NGC 7129 – Diffuse Nebula + Open Cluster; Cepheus; Mag. 11.5;

6 cm shows oc-gn 7129 as two double stars with nebulosity surrounding and N of the northernmost pair.  A few arc minutes NE is gn 7133, which appears as a small, faint patch without stars.  In 25 cm the nebulous cluster has four bright stars and several fainter ones.  The nebula is 4′ x 2′ and has a fairly high surface brightness.  30 cm shows the pair on the S in pa 0º, the pair N in pa 110º.  The nebula is brightest around the eastern star of the northern pair, and a faint companion is suspected near this star.  The nebula is mostly N of this pair, and at least two more stars are involved.  It is about 2′ diameter and irregularly shaped gn 7133 is fainter, extending to only 1′, and has a single star involved on its S side.   Skiff and Lunginbuhl  Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects

RA:  21h 42m    Dec.  +66º  06′  

 

November:  NGC 147 – Galaxy; Cassiopeia; Mag. 9.7; 

11.5M; 7′ x 4′ extent; faint blob 1º W and a little N of (galaxy NGC 185)   Tom Lorenzin  The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing 

When observing NGC 147, please also attempt galaxy NGC 185, which is a bit brighter than 147.  A faint galaxy pair for sure, even with a 10-inch.  When I first observed both NGC 147 and NGC 185 almost twenty five years ago, I used the photo’s in Burnham’s Celestial Handbook to verify my find.   Roger Ivester

RA:  00h 33.2m    Dec.  +48º 30′  (NGC 147)

RA:  00h 39.0m    Dec.  +48º 20′  (NGC 185) 

 

December:  Struve 186 – Double Star; Cetus; (2018) Mags. 6.79/6.84 – Separation: 0.688″ –  Position Angle: 72.8º  

Orbital graph provided by Sue French: 

image003

Pencil sketch using a 102 mm achromatic f/9.8 Vixen/Orion refractor.   During the time of this sketch, the separation was 0.9 arc seconds.  Exceeding Dawes Limit of 1.1 arc seconds for a 4-inch refractor.   Roger Ivester 

FullSizeRender

RA:  01h 56m    Dec.  +01º 51′  

 

 

 

 

 

Observer’s Challenge Objects for 2017:  Our ninth year!  

January: NGC 1545 – Open Cluster; Perseus; Mag. 6.2; Size 12′ – “Near the center of this cluster 6 cm shows a pretty 2′.5 triangle pointing SW, formed by blue, orange, and yellow stars (moving clockwise from the SW apex).  In 30 cm about 35 stars are visible in an 18′ area.”  Skiff & Luginbuhl  Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects  

“NGC 1545, is dominated by the colorful triple star South 445 at its center.  The widely spaced components form a skinny isosceles triangle pointing west-southwest.  Through my little refractor at 68x, the 7th-magnitude primary is orange, the 8th-magnitude secondary north-northwest is yellow, and the 9th magnitude companion at the triangle’s pointy end seems bluish.  About 30 stars, mostly faint, run outward from this triple in several branching arms.”  Sue French Deep-Sky Wonders

RA: 04h 20.9m  Dec. +50º 15′

Photo of NGC 1545 and NGC 1528 provided by James Dire of Hawaii:

james-ngc-1545-wide-field

 

February: Winter Albireo – Double Star – Canis Major;  5.0/5.8; Sep. 27″ – Identification is h 3945 from the John Herschel catalog.  The lower case h represents John, and capital H is for William Herschel.  Orange and Blue -“Largely unknown and unobserved….a pity”   James Mullany and Will Tirion – The Cambridge Double Star Atlas. 

The following image provided by Mario Motta of Massachusetts:

RA: 07h 17m Dec. -23º 19′  

h-3945 

March: M67 – NGC 2682 –  Open Cluster – Cancer – Mag. 7.0; Size 30′ – “An easy cluster to resolve.  In the 4-inch, the star hues of M67 are predominantly rust, orange, gold and yellow.”  John Mallas with Evered Kreimer:  The Messier Album 

RA: 08h 50.4m  Dec: +11º 49′

Image of M67 provided by Mario Motta of Massachusetts using a 6-inch refractor: 

321793134_6_1

April Observer’s Challenge:  The following image of interacting galaxies NGC 3395 and NGC 3396 provided by Mario Motta of Massachusetts: 

NGC3395-6

April: NGC 3395-96 – Interacting Galaxies – Leo Minor – Visual magnitudes: 12.1/12.2  Sfc. Br. 12.9/13.4   Size: 1.9′ x 1.2′ NGC 3396 2.8′ x 1.2′ – “NGC 3395 small but bright oblong;  NGC 3396 lies 1′ E; small oblong; tough but worthy pair!  don’t leave without seeing spiral galaxy NGC 3430 just 30′ to E.  Tom Lorenzin  1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing

NGC 3395 is another 12th-magnitude spiral, about 2′ in diameter.  Amateur telescopes will show it almost in contact with NGC 3396 at its northeast edge.  These are interacting galaxies, but the bridge of material between them does not show in small telescopes.  Has anyone viewed them with a 30-inch aperture?   Walter Scott Houston  Deep-Sky Wonders – selections and commentary by Stephen James O’Meara 

In my 130mm refractor at 48× NGC 3430 shares the field with the colliding galaxies NGC 3395 and NGC 3396. Their combined glow appears a little smaller and fainter than the lone galaxy. At 117× these entangled galaxies each harbor a brighter center, with NGC 3395 boasting the more obvious one. NGC 3396 is elongated approximately east-west, with NGC 3395 south of its western end, where their halos blend together. Seen through my 10-inch scope at 166×, NGC 3396 hosts an elongated core with a starlike nucleus.

NGC 3395 and NGC 3396 have undergone at least one close encounter in the past and are now thought to be in the early stages of a merger, a show we are watching from a distance of 85 million light-years.  Sue French 

RA: 10h 49.8m  Dec. +33.0′ 

May: M98 – NGC 4192 – Galaxy – Coma Berenices – Mag. 10.0; Size 7′ x 5′ – “In the 4-inch refractor, M98 is grainy and mottled like a globular cluster, but with some bright knots superimposed.”  John Mallas with Evered Kreimer:  The Messier Album

RA: 12h 13.8m  Dec. +14º 54′ 

June: NGC 6015 – Galaxy – Draco – Mag. 11.1; Size 5.4′ x 2.3′ “This galaxy is faintly visible to 15 cm about 2′.5 E of a mag. 11 star.  In 25 cm it is 3′ x 1′.25 in pa 30º, a fat oval broadly brighter to the center with a narrow central bar occasionally visible.  It grows to 5′.5 x 1′.8 with 30 cm, with weak concentration to a broad core. A mag. 13.5 star is visible within the halo 2′ S.”  Skiff & Luginbuhl;  Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects

RA: 15h 51.4m  Dec. +62º 19′ 

July: M14 – NGC 6402 – Globular Cluster – Ophiuchus – Mag. 7.6; Size 12′ – “M14 has a nearly circular form in the 4-inch.  The central two-thirds of the visual image is bright, but toward the outer edges the light fades rapidly.  Some graininess was noticed at moments of steady seeing, giving the impression that a little more optical power would show some stars.”   John Mallas with Evered Kreimer: The Messier Album 

RA: 17h 44.9m  Dec. -03º 15′    

August: M24 – Starcloud – Sagittarius – Size 1º x 2º – “In the 4-inch, is a compact glow, containing stars forming a “V.”  There are beautiful star fields in this area.”   John Mallas with Evered Kreimer: The Messier Album 

“M24, the Small Sagittarius Starcloud, is visible to the unaided eye as a large, bright patch in the Milky Way just north of Mu Sagittarii.  Northeast of M24’s center, the little open cluster NGC 6603 is a small, misty patch when seen through a small telescope.  A 10-inch reveals a rich gathering of faint stars.”  Sue French  Deep-Sky Wonders

September: NGC 6905 – Planetary Nebula – “Blue Flash Nebula” – Delphinus – Mag. 12; Size 42″ x 35″ with mag. 14.2 central star.  “An unusual and overlooked planetary nebula, visible in a 5-inch and a fascinating sight in a 10-inch or larger scopes.  Lies near the Delphinus-Sagittarius border in a rich Milky Way field.”   James Mullaney Celestial Harvest 

25 cm:  “The unevenly bright 40″ disk grows generally brighter toward the center….a faint sparkle can be seen at 200 x. With 30 cm the central star is plain, and the nebula is slightly elongated N-S.” Skiff and Luginbuhl Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects.

10-Inch: “At 311 x the nebula is somewhat patchy, and its faint central star makes an appearance. Despite its nickname, I see no obvious color in the Blue Flash….” Sue French Deep-Sky Wonders

8-inch: “This object appears as a beautiful ring-shaped nebula with a faint central star with a faint central star in an 8-inch scope. David Eicher The Universe from Your Backyard

10-inch: October 4, 1994.  Poor transparency, due to high humidity, with only fair seeing from my moderately light polluted backyard. NELM 4.9. Fairly bright, positioned on the west side of a four star square, subtle oval shape, oriented N-S.  No color was noted.  Could not see the central star at 250 x.  Roger Ivester 

 RA: 18h 17m  Dec. -18º 36′ 

October:  M15 – NGC 7078 – Globular Cluster – Pegasus – Mag. 6.0; Size 10′ “The slightest optical aid reveals this grand globular.  In the 4-inch, M15 appears circular, nestled in a fine star field.  The center of the cluster is very intense, with quick fading toward the edges, but M15 is not resolved by this aperture.  John Mallas with Evered Kreimer:  The Messier Album 

“Beautiful sight in a 6-inch at 90x, but it’s not completely resolved even in a 13-inch at 190x on most nights.”  James Mullaney Celestial Harvest

“Through my 105mm refractor at 47x, the halo of the cluster looks mottled.  At around 200x, the cluster appears slightly oval and some of the outer stars pop into views, but the center remains unresolved.” Sue French  Deep-Sky Wonders”

RA: 21h 30m  Dec. +12º 10′ 

November: NGC 772 – Galaxy – Aries – Mag. 12; Size 7.1′ x 4.5′ –  “This galaxy is visible in 15 cm; it has a small intense core and a stellar nucleus.”  Skiff & Luginbuhl  Observing Handbook and Catalogue of Deep-Sky Objects.

RA: 01h 59m  Dec. +19º 00′ 

December:  NGC 925 – Galaxy – Triangulum – (Mag. V 10.0 – sfc. br. 13.0) Size 9’8 x 6′.0′ – “This galaxy is faintly visible in 6 cm, which shows a small, round core and a halo seemingly elongated N-S, though larger apertures show that this impression is caused by some faint associated stars.”  Skiff & Luginbuhl  Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects” 

RA: 02h 27m  Dec. +33º 34′ 

 

Observer’s Challenge Objects for 2016

January: M78 – Orion; Bright Nebula; Mag. 8.0; Size: 8’ x 6’ Elongated fan shaped nebula, with three stars involved.  

RA: 05h 46.7m Dec. +00º 03’

February: NGC 2237 – “The Rosette Nebula” Monoceros: Wreath shaped nebulosity, exceeding 1º in size.  An O-III or UHC filter is a must to enhance the view.  The nebula surrounds a sparse open cluster. 

NGC 2244.  RA: 06h 30.3m Dec. +05º 03′

March: NGC 2392 – PL Nebula – “The Eskimo Nebula” Gemini; Mag. 9.2 – Size: 50” –  Named the “Eskimo Nebula” due to the appearance of an Eskimo face on long exposure photographs.  

RA: 07h 29.2m Dec. +20º 55’

April: NGC 3077 – Galaxy – Ursa Major; Magnitude 9.9 – A member of the M81 group.

RA: 10h 03.4 Dec. +68º 44’

May: M100 – Galaxy in Coma Berenices; Mag. 10.7; Size: 7’ x 6’ – Very large and bright.  Long time Observer’s Challenge contributor, Gus Johnson in April of 1979 visually discovered a 12th magnitude SN in M100. Johnson was given credit for the discovery of 1979C.

RA: 12h 22.9m Dec. +15º 49’

June: M5 – Globular Cluster – Serpens Caput;  Mag. 6.2; Size: 17’ –  “This superb object is a noble mass, refreshing to the senses after searching for fainter objects”  Admiral Smyth (1838)

RA: 15h 18.6m Dec. +02º 05’

July: M92 – Globular Cluster – Hercules – Mag. 6.5 – Size: 11’ – “Rival of M13!” The late Tom Lorenzin

RA: 17h 17.1m Dec. +43º 08’

August:  Chaple’s Arc and the Cygnus Fairy Ring – Asterism – Size 40′ x 40′ – An interesting and fascinating circlet of double stars, easily observed with a moderately sized telescope at medium magnification.  The asterism fits nicely within a 1º field of view, with at least eight or more double stars visible…  

RA: 20h 05m  Dec: +38º 09′  

I made the following pencil sketch using a 10-inch reflector at 57x, an 5 x 8 blank notecard, with the colors inverted via computer. 

Scanned Image 160890002

September: NGC 7009 – “Saturn Nebula”  Aquarius; Mag. 8.0 – Size: 20’ –  On a night of exceptional seeing, a good 10 or 12-inch telescope may show ansae as faint projections of nebulosity spanning 44″ and ending in a bright condensation” David Eicher “The Universe From Your Backyard” 

RA: 21h 04.0 Dec. -11º 22’

October: NGC 7479 – Galaxy – Pegasus – Mag. 10.9; Size: 3.2’ x 3.5’ – “If your eye is properly dark-adapted, the galaxy should be visible even in a 3-inch telescope, but a 6-inch is better”  Walter Scott Houston “Deep-Sky Wonders” selections and commentary by Stephen James O’Meara  

RA: 23h 04.9m Dec. +12º 19’

November: NGC 206 – Star Cloud or Stellar Association in the spiral arm of the Andromeda Galaxy

RA: 00h 40.6m Dec. +40º 44m

December: M74 – Spiral Galaxy; Pisces; Mag. 9.4; Size: 10’ – “This is a difficult galaxy for the 4-inch (Unitron f/15 refractor) but it is easily seen in the 10 x 40 finder”  John Mallas “The Messier Album”  

“It seems an easy galaxy from it’s catalog description, yet it is considered by many to be the most difficult in Messier’s list.  Never the less, I have seen it (M74) in my 4-inch Clark refractor with the aperture stopped down to 2.8-inches.”  Walter Scott Houston 

RA: 01h 36.7m Dec. +15º 47m

Observer’s Challenge Objects for 2015:  

Jan.   NGC 1569, Galaxy, Cam:  RA 04:30.8  Dec. +64.9  11.2M;  dimen. 2.9′ x  1.5′  –  A slash with a stellar nucleus.

Feb.   NGC 2158, Open Cluster, Gemini,  RA 06:04.4  Dec. +24.3  8.6M;  dimen. Size: 5′  –  Dim, unresolved glow in most amateur telescopes on the outer edge of M35.

Mar.   NGC 2683, Galaxy, Lynx,  RA 08:52.7  Dec. +33.4  10.6M;  dimen. 9′ x 1.3′  –  Edge-on spindle shape spiral, easily seen in a 3-inch telescope under good conditions.

Apr.   NGC 3184, Galaxy, Ursa Major,  RA 10:18.3  Dec. +41.4  10.5M;  dimen. 5.5′  –  A mostly round soft glow, without any center brightness.

May    NGC 4244, Galaxy, CVN,  RA 12:17.5  Dec. +37.8  10.1M;  dimen. 16′ x 2.5′  –  Very large slash, oriented NE-SW.  

June  NGC 5236; (M83), Hydra,  RA  13:37.0  Dec.  -29.9  8.2M;  dimen. 11′ x 10′  –  Large, mostly round, with a subtle NE-SW elongation.      

July    NGC 6503, Galaxy, Draco,  RA  17:49.4  Dec.  +70.2  11.0M;  dimen.  6.2′ x  2.3′  –  Faint slash, oriented NW-SE. 

Aug.   NGC 6611; (M16),  Serpens, Cluster/Nebula, “The Eagle Nebula” RA  18:18.8  Dec.  -13.8  6.0M;  dimen.  21′  –  One of the finest objects in the Messier catalog.   

Sept.  NGC 7000;  “North American Nebula”  Cygnus,  RA  20:58.8  Dec.  +44.3  dimen.  100′ x 60′  –  Very large in size, nebula filter required.  Should be on every amateurs bucket list to observe visually.  Amazing and beautiful!

Oct.    NGC 7128, Open Cluster, Cygnus,  RA  21:44.0  Dec. +53.7  9.7M;  dimen. 3.1′  –  40 stars plus of magnitude 10 or fainter.  The late Tomm Lorenzin says “small, compressed and memorable!”  

Nov.   NGC 7789, Open Cluster, Cassiopeia,  RA  23:57.0  Dec.  +56.7  6.7M;  dimen. 16′  –  Very rich with hundreds of faint stars. 

Dec.  NGC 1023, Galaxy, Perseus, RA  02:40.4  Dec.  +39.1  11M;  dimen. 8.7′ x  3.3′  –  Faint brighter patch on the eastern tip.     

2014 Challenge Objects:

Jan.  NGC 1491, Diffuse Nebula,  Perseus:  RA 04:03.4  Dec. +51.3  “11M;  3’diameter;  emission nebula includes 11M star;  use medium-x  and nebula filter.”  “1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing by Tomm Lorenzin     

Feb.  NGC 1664,  Open Cluster,  Auriga: RA 04:51.1  Dec. +43.7  “6 cm shows this cluster as a small hazy spot in a very rich star field.  In 25 cm the cluster merges smoothly into the background,  but is nevertheless conspicuous.”  Observing Handbook And Catalog Of Deep-Sky Objects  by Brian Skiff & Christian Luginbuhl 

Mar.  NGC 2359, (aka Thor’s Helmet) Emission Nebula,  Canis Major:  RA 07:18.5  Dec. -13.2  “NGC 2359, along with its fainter partner, IC 468, presents a dim and challenging region of emission nebulosity.  Both nebulae are illuminated by a magnitude 10.4 star.  Shaped like a twisted comet and measuring 10′ x 5′, NGC 2359 appears as a faint streamer of pale grey light in an 8-inch scope.”  The Universe From Your Backyard by David Eicher  

Apr.  NGC 3893 (11M) and faint companion galaxy, NGC 3896 at (14M)  Ursa Major: RA 11:48.6   Dec. +58.1   NGC 3893 is easy with my 10-inch, and surprisingly the much fainter companion was not too difficult when using averted vision.  The true challenge will be NGC 3896, should you choose to go for this one. Sketch using a 10-inch reflector @ 200x:  NGC 3893 is the brighter and much larger galaxy toward the NW, and very faint NGC 3896 is just a few minutes SE.   2014-04-08- 001    

May   NGC 4290, Galaxy in Ursa Major @ (M12.6)  RA  12:20.8  Dec. +58.06  and bonus object which is the real challenge, very faint galaxy NGC 4284 @ (M14.7).  Both can be seen in the same 1/2 degree field of view.  I can see NGC 4284 with my 10-inch reflector, but averted vision is required.  Another interesting feature in the FOV is “spurious” Messier 40, double star.  

Jun.   M53 @ M7.6 and NGC 5053 @ M9.5; Globular custer’s in Coma Berenices:  RA  13:12.9  Dec.  +18.2  “8M;  10′ diameter; very compressed and extremely rich and well resolved cluster; 12M and dimmer stars resolved over diffuse background glow; looks a bit ovoid; 11M star 3′ NE of center; GLOB NGC 5053 (11M; 9′ diameter) 1 degree to ESE; faint and barely resolved at 200x.”  1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing by Tomm Lorenzin

July  NGC 5457  (M101)  Galaxy in Ursa Major:  RA  14:03.2  Dec. 54.4  “On a dark, crisp night, an 8-inch telescope shows a bright condensed core surrounded by a halo of hazy nebulosity, which fills an entire low-power field and includes several knotty patches.  Under ideal skies, small low focal length ratio telescopes…coupled with wide field oculars can reveal a weak spiral shape.”  The Universe From Your Backyard by David Eicher 

August – NGC 6822, “Barnard Galaxy” in Sagittarius:  RA 19:44.9   Dec.  -14.8  “A weak but definite glow in 6 cm, where it appears elongated N-S.  In 25 cm motion of the field helps in showing the low surface brightness galaxy, but it is difficult and ill-defined at best.  With 30 cm it is even more difficult.”  Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects by Brian Skiff & Christian Luginbuhl  “Discovered by the sharp-eyed E.E. Barnard with a 5-inch refractor in 1884.  Hubble found it “fairly conspicuous” in a short focus 4-inch finder with a low-power ocular, but “barely discernible” at the primary focus of the 100-inch.”  “Low powers are essential on objects of this nature.  The author of this book has always found the galaxy not particularly difficult on 6 to 10-inch telescopes with wide-angle oculars.”   Burnham’s Celestial Handbook by Robert Burnham Jr.  The following image of NGC 6822, courtesy of Dr. James Dire NGC6822_170min

Sept. M30; Globular Cluster in Capricornus:  RA  21:40.4   Dec.  -23.2  “The cluster appears elongated E-W with star chains extending N and NW, and a fainter one extending E.  Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects by Skiff & Luginbuhl.  When I first observed M30 many years ago, it immediately became one of my favorite globulars, due in-part to the prominent star chains as described by Skiff & Luginbuhl.   Roger 

Oct.  NGC 7640; 12.5M highly elongated spiral galaxy in Andromeda;  Size: 9′ x 1′  RA  23:20.2  Dec.  +40.9  “A challenging object for 4-inch scopes under dark skies.”   The Universe From Your Backyard  by David Eicher  “12.5M; 9′ x 1′  extent; very dim slash;  nearly edge-on spiral;  axis oriented N-S.”   The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing  by Tomm Lorenzin 

Nov.  NGC 404, Elliptical Galaxy in Andromeda:  RA  01:09.4   Dec. +35.7   “Known as Mirach’s Ghost and also Komorowski’s Comet.”  To read more about “Comet Komorowski” please go to: http://www.rogerivester.com and then click on “The Ted Komorowski Story” in the category section.  It had been my desire for the past 25 years to find out more of the facts about this most interesting amateur.   The project was a little bigger than I thought, and I ended up spending quite a bit of time putting it all together.  A special thanks to Ken Dwight from Houston and Gayle Riggsbee from Charlotte for sharing their memories of Komorowski and also Tom English of North Carolina for his research of  the Sky & Telescope DVD collection.  Thanks also to Sky & Telescope Magazine for giving me permission to use this information.   It’s my hope that all who choose to read “The Ted Komorowski Story” will find it to be as interesting and of be of value and importance to the history of amateur astronomy.    I’ve observed NGC 404 with small telescopes, including an 80 mm refractor, however, sometimes with difficulty, appearing as a faint round glow in the glare of Beta Andromedae.  

Dec.  NGC 672, Spiral Galaxy in Triangulum:  RA  01:47.9    Dec.  +27.4  “Direct vision.  Elongated oval easily visible with even brightness across the face.”  Observe Herschel II by the Rose City Astronomers – Astronomical League

Challenge Objects for 2013:   

Jan.   NGC  1579, Diffuse Nebula,  Perseus:   RA  04:30.8   Dec  +35.3  “The Northern Trifid”  “8′ x 12′ extent, surrounds 12M, star mottled in The Amateur Astronomers Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing by Lorenzin

Feb.   Melotte 71, Open Cluster in Puppis:  RA  07:37.5  Dec  -12.1  “With my 105mm scope at 87x, I get the impression of a diamond crushed into fine powder powder with the surviving chips casting glints of light.”  Sue French “Deep-Sky Wonders”  P-59. 

Mar.   M46/NGC 2438,  Open Cluster and Planetary Nebula:  RA  07:41.8  Dec  -14.8  “A magnificent cluster at low power.  It is circular without any pronounced bunching of stars near the center, yet the brightest ones form many geometrical patterns.  The planetary nebula is difficult to locate.  It is oval, nonuniform in brightness, and blue-gray in color.  In the 4-inch refractor of author Mallas, NGC 2438 is best seen at medium to high power.”  John Mallas  “The Messier Album”  (Mallas was using a 4-inch f/15 Unitron refractor)    

Apr.   NGC 2672 @ M11.6 and NGC 2673 @ M12.9, Galaxy Pair; Cancer:  RA  08:49.4  Dec  +19.1  “This is an interesting pair of galaxies only 40″ apart.  15 cm will show 72 faintly, but its companion is too faint.  With 25 cm, NGC 2672 is easy to see.  NGC 2673..high power shows it.”  Skiff & Luginbuhl  “Observing Handbook and Catalogue of Deep-Sky Objects” 

May   Gamma Virgo, (Porrima) Double Star:  RA  12:41.7  Dec  -01.5  Magnitudes  3.5/3.5,  Sep. 2.0″    Famous bright binary system with 171-year period that’s now becoming tighter with each passing year!  “This wonderful pair has been widening ever since they closed up out of all telescopic reach in 1836” – written in 1859.  “I was astonished, on gazing at its morning apparition in January (1836), to find it a single star!”  Currently very tight in 3- & 4-inch glasses, but still relatively easy in a 5-inch under good seeing.   James Mullaney “Celestial Harvest”   Very easy to see both stars on a night of good seeing using a 102 mm refractor.  Roger Ivester

Jun.   NGC 5466, Globular Star Cluster, Bootes:  RA  14:05.5  Dec  +28.5  “NGC 5466 is difficult to spot in telescopes of 3-inches or less in aperture.  A 6-inch scope typically shows this cluster as a 5′ diameter hazy glow without individual stars, although on a night of exceptional seeing some of the brightest of NGC 5466’s stars are visible with this aperture.  A 10-inch telescope at high power shows a uniformly lit nebulous glow with a sprinkling of tiny glowing cluster members.  David Eicher  “The Universe From Your Backyard”

July   Galaxy Trio, NGC 5981@ mag 13,  NGC 5982 @ mag 11.1 and NGC 5985 @ mag 11.1;  Draco:  RA  15:37.9  Dec  +59 23 “NGC 5982 is easiest to spot and can be seen in my 105mm scope at 28x.  The best view of the trio, however, comes at a magnification of 102x.  Sue French “Deep-Sky Wonders”  Pages 137-138. 

Aug.   NGC 6791, Open Cluster; Lyra:  RA  19:20.7  Dec  +37.9  “Faint but very rich swarm for medium to large apertures”  James Mullaney “Celestial Harvest.”    August 16th 2012 with poor transparency, (NELM 4.0) my 10-inch reflector presented a faint glow with the resolve of only a few brighter members.  This cluster can be difficult.  

Sept.   NGC 7044, Open Cluster; Cygnus:   RA  21:13.0  Dec  +42.5  “NGC 7044 when observed with my 10-inch reflector is extremely difficult, presented a faint haze, and sprinkling of some very faint stars at 250x.  The shape of the cluster appears irregular but a bit elongated.  A couple of brighter stars was noted on the ENE edge.”   

Oct.    IC 5146 (Cocoon Nebula) Cygnus:  RA  21:53.5  Dec  +47.3  “At first I couldn’t see the nebula, but when I added a hydrogen-beta filter, it was immediately apparent.”  (Using a 105mm refractor)  Sue French “Deep-Sky Wonders” Pages 260-261.

Nov.   IC 1747, Planetary Nebula, Cassiopeia:  Magnitude 12.1.  RA  01:57.6  Dec  +63.2  “This nebula is discernable with a 30 cm in the center of a triangle of mag. 13.5-14 stars.  The object is 15″ diameter and fairly well concentrated.”  Skiff & Luginbuhl  Observing Handbook and Catalogue of Deep-Sky Objects.”   “12.1M; 13″ diameter; very small, bright and round, requires N-filter and high x; 30′ SE of 3M Epsilon CAS.”  Tomm Lorenzin  “1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing”  IC 1747 appears faint and small, but fairly easy from my backyard using a 10-inch reflector at 200x.  It is pretty fain, very small, irregular round shape, and averted vision is required.  At low power it appears as a faint star enveloped by a thin nebulosity.   

Dec.   NGC 40, Planetary Nebula, Cepheus:   RA  00.13.0  Dec  +72.5   “12.4M; oblong with 11.5M center star;  13M star”  Tomm Lorenzin “1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing.”   

2012 Challenge Objects: 

Jan.   NGC 1502    Open Cluster   Camelopardalis       

Feb.   Theta 1 – Trapezium   Multiple Star   Orion 

Mar.   NGC 2362   Open Cluster   Canes Major    

Apr.   NGC 3115   Galaxy   Serpens

May   M64   Galaxy   Coma Berenices   

June   NGC 5353 Galaxy Group   CVn

July   M17   Emission Nebula   Sagittarius

Aug.   M22   Globular Cluster   Sagittarius

Sept.   NGC 6826   Planetary Nebula   Cygnus

Oct.   NGC 7023   Cluster + Nebula   Cepheus

Nov.   NGC 55   Galaxy   Sculptor

Dec.   NGC 457   Open Cluster   Cassiopeia

2011 Challenge Objects: 

Jan.   NGC 1333   Nebula   Perseus

Feb.   NGC 2261   Hubbles Variable Nebula   Monoceros 

Mar.   NGC 2419   Globular Cluster “Intergalactic Wonderer”   Lynx

Apr.   NGC 3190   Compact Galaxy Cluster   Leo

May   M97   Planetary Nebula   Ursa Major

June   NGC 5866  (M102)   Draco

July   NGC 6645   Open Cluster   Sagittarius

Aug.   NGC 6819   Open Cluster   (Fox Head Nebula)   Cygnus

Sept.   NGC 6946   Galaxy   Cepheus

Oct.   NGC 7380   Nebula   Cepheus

Nov.   NGC 281   Nebula + Cluster  (Pac Man Nebula)   Cassiopeia

Dec.   M33   Galaxy   Triangulum  

2010 Challenge Objects: 

Jan.  NGC 2264   Cluster + Nebula   (Christmas Tree Cluster + Cone Nebula)   Monoceros

Feb.   NGC 2903   Galaxy   Leo

Mar.   IC 405/410   NGC   1893   Nebula + Cluster   Auriga  

April   NGC 4889   Galaxy Cluster   Coma Berenices

May   NGC 4631/27   4656/7   Galaxies   Canes Venatici

June   NGC 5907   Galaxy   Draco

July   NGC 6543   Planetary Nebula (Cat’s Eye)   Draco

Aug.   NGC 188   Open Cluster   Cepheus

Sept.   NGC 7331   Galaxy   Pegasus

Oct.   NGC 6888   Nebula (Crescent)   Cygnus

Nov.   IC 342   Galaxy   Camelopardalis

Dec.   M77   Galaxy   Cetus

2009 Challenge Objects: 

Feb.   M1   SN   (Crab Nebula)   Taurus

Mar.   NGC 2403   Galaxy   Camelopardalis

April   (M84-86) and Seven Other Galaxies   Virgo Cluster  

May   M65-M66 & NGC 3628   (Leo Triplet)   

June   M13 and the “Propeller”   Globular Cluster   Hercules

July   M27   Planetary Nebula   Vulpecula

Aug.   M2   Globular Cluster  (Dark lane, as described by John Mallas)   Aquarius

Sept.   NGC 7293   Planetary Nebula (Helix)   Aquarius

Oct.   NGC 253   Galaxy   Sculptor

Nov.   NGC 891   Galaxy   Andromeda

Dec.   NGC 467/470/474   Galaxy Group   Pisces  

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