Archive for December 2012

2012 Summary and review

December 30, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


NGC 55 – Galaxy In Sculptor – Recent Studies Indicate that this Galaxy Is A Part of The Local Group Of Galaxies – Observers Challenge Object For November 2012

December 21, 2012

November 9th 2012

When looking at my deep-sky list of objects observed, I was surprised that NGC 55 was not included.  My backyard has a very poor southern view, due to light pollution, so I loaded up my 10-inch in search of a better location.  I had been spying a grassy field which appeared to be a pretty good site for quite a few years and only a couple miles from my house.  

I could easily see (naked eye) my starting location star, Alpha Phoenix, just above the tree line.  After a quick polar alignment, I centered my scope on the location of NGC 55, but couldn’t see anything.  I tried low power to start, but to no avail, then moved up to medium, but again, no galaxy.  I did this for almost two hours and never once saw NGC 55, apparently due to the sky glow of Boiling Springs.  I don’t think that the conditions were that bad, however, this would suggest that a very dark sky is needed.  If you are planning to observe this galaxy, make sure that you have a good southern sky, devoid of any light pollution. 

Second attempt:  December 13th 2012

My wife Debbie agreed to go with me to a better site.  We started to drive to a true dark site, however, we got a late start and decided to stay a bit closer home. I picked another grassy field that had an excellent view of the southern sky.  Due to being sore from a recent bicycle accident, I decided to take a 4-inch refractor, which is much easier to set up than a 10-inch equatorial reflector.  

The sky and conditions were excellent, with a NELM of 6.0 or maybe a bit better.  We started out with low power, and then medium…still no galaxy.  Everything seemed to be perfect, but there was a faint light glow, just above the tree tops that seemed to obscure the view.  We attempted a variety of eyepieces, but after more than an hour of searching, we decided to give up.  

I’ll try to find a better location this year (2016) and attempt a sketch and some decent notes.  An excellent southern horizon without any light glow is a must!  

The following image of NGC 55 provided by Dr. James Dire of  Hawaii:  


Click on the following link for the complete Observers Challenge report.