Archive for December 2013

Orion Telescope and Binoculars Deep-Sky Challenge Objects For 2014

December 28, 2013


January:   M1, “The Crab Nebula”  Supernova Remnant, Taurus:  RA 05h 34.5m   Dec. +22  01′ 

“Small telescopes show the Crab Nebula as an 8′ x 6′ oval glow without structure; large backyard instruments show an irregular shape and changing surface brightness over the nebula’s face.  The Crab’s magnitude is about 9, making it visible as a fuzzy spot even in finderscopes under a dark, moonless sky.”   The Universe From Your Backyard  by David Eicher 

Image by Dr. James Dire of Hawaii, using an 8-inch reflector: 


February:  NGC 2261 “Hubble’s Variable Nebula”  Reflection/Emission Nebula, Monoceros:   RA 06h 39.2m   Dec. +08  45′   

“Hubble’s Variable Nebula is easily visible in 6 cm as a very small patch about 2′ SW of a mag. 11 star.”  Observing Handbook and Catalog of Deep-Sky Objects by Brian Skiff & Christian Luginbuhl 

The illuminating star, R Monocerotis is positioned at the apex of the extreme southern tip of the nebula.  The shape of the nebula is triangular with a wide fan-shaped tail pointing toward the NNW.  When increasing the magnification with my 10-inch, to 267x, structure was noted.  A brighter section can be seen just north of R Monocerotis, and some concentration on the western edge, and also along the NE.  The broad fan tail fades very suddenly and the NE side makes an obvious curve toward the NW.  The following sketch was made using a No. 2 pencil, a blank 5 x 8 note card, with the colors inverted using a scanner.  RI 


The following sketch by Jaakko Saloranta of Finland using an 8-inch Orion SkyQuest reflector telescope at 200x:  Fan-shaped, fairly bright reflection with quite well defined shape.  Bright 12th magnitude star at the S tip of the nebula.  The western side is slightly brighter.  JS    Caldwell46b

March:  NGC 2419 “Intergalactic Tramp” Globular Cluster, Lynx:  RA  07h  38.1m  Dec.  +38  53′  “11.5M; at E end of 7-8M, 2-star chain; one of the dimmest globs; most distant of the Milky Way’s Globs; may even be extragalactic at its distance of approximately 200,000 light years.”  Tomm Lorenzin, The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing.  When using my 10-inch at 191x, and averted vision a very interesting feature was noted.  The mostly round shape of the globular has a more concentrated area on the northern edge which creates a crescent shape.  Can you see the brighter northern section?  The following pencil sketch made on a blank 5 x 8 note card with the colors being inverted using a scanner.  

NGC 2419 - Globular Cluster

Image of NGC 2419 by Jim Gianoulakis of Las Vegas:

NGC-2419-RGB Roger  

April:  NGC 3190 Leo Galaxy Group,  RA: 10h 18.3m  Dec.  +21 50′  “12M; 3′ x 1′ extent; fairly bright and large; nearly edge-on; axis NW-SE; equatorial dust lane;  NGC 3193 (12M)  NGC 3187 (13M)  NGC 3185 (13M)  great group!  Tomm Lorenzin The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing. Four galaxies all within a 1/2 degree field of view!  I first observed this galaxy group back in 1993, and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since.  The faintest galaxy is NGC 3185 (NW) of the brighter elongated NGC 3190.  If conditions are not superb, NGC 3185 is impossible for me using my 10-inch reflector from my backyard.  A beautiful and interesting group for sure!  The following pencil sketch was made using a 10-inch reflector, on a blank 5 x 8 note card, with the colors inverted using a scanner.   

NGC 3190 Leo Galaxy Group  

The following image by Jim Gianoulakis from Las Vegas: NGC-3190-3_1_2011_roger

Sketch (inverted view) by Jaakko Saloranta using a 3-inch refractor at 7480 feet.   JS Hickson44

May:  NGC 5350 M11.4;  5353 M12.2;  5354 M11.5;  5355 M and NGC 5358 14m?; Compact galaxy group in Canes Venatici:  RA: 13h 53.4m  Dec. +40 22′  Five galaxies all within a 1/2 degree field of view, and seen rather easily with a 10-inch reflector at 200x, however, NGC 5358 can be impossible if conditions are not perfect, and a dark sky is a must for this tiny round glow!   

NGC 5350 Galaxy Group

Galaxy cluster image by Dr. James Dire of Hawaii:


June:  NGC 5907, Spiral Galaxy in Draco; M10.3:  RA 15h 15.9m   Dec. +56  20′  Highly elongated galaxy with a dimension of 12′ x  1′.8, and one of the most beautiful galaxies in the heavens.  

Image of NGC 5907 by Dr. James Dire:


July:  NGC 6543, Bright planetary nebula in Draco, M8.1: Known as “The Cat’s Eye Nebula”   RA 17h 58.6  Dec. +66 38′  Bright, bluish ellipse with a 10M central star.  A planetary nebula of this magnitude is often well observed by the city dweller, with both a small telescope and moderate to severe light pollution.  

August:  NGC 6946 Galaxy in Cepheus:  M8.8; RA 20h 34.5m  Dec. +60 Large and very faint, elongated NE-SW.  On an exceptional night, I was able to detect spiral structure with my 10-inch reflector, and not from a dark site, but from my moderately light polluted backyard.   

Pencil Sketch by Jaakko Saloranta of Finland using an Orion 8-inch DSE Reflector:  The following sketch of NGC 6946, showing the spiral structure, and the true beauty of this galaxy, using only a telescope, an eyepiece, pencil, paper and most importantly the human eye.   


September:  NGC 7293, The Helix Nebula in Aquarius:  RA 22h 29.6m  Dec. -20 48′  A large and very dim planetary nebula.  A UHC or O-III filter is essential for observing this object.  I have had excellent results seeing this nebula with an O-III.  However, to see some of the faint embedded stars, I remove the filter and use only an eyepiece.  

October:  NGC 7380, Cluster plus nebulosity in Cepheus:  RA 22h 47.0m  Dec. +58.1  Sparse and irregular cluster, with about 20-25 members.  The faint enveloping nebulosity can be seen with difficulty using an O-III filter, and a 10-inch reflector.  

Image by Dr. James Dire using an Orion 190 mm Maksutov-Newtonian f/5.3.  Exposure: 30 min (3 x 10)


Pencil sketch by Jaakko Saloranta of Finland using an Orion 8-inch Dobsonian Telescope:  


November:  NGC 404, Galaxy in Andromeda; M10.3;  RA 01h 09.4  Dec. +35.7  Fairly bright, but subdued quite a bit due to the glare of bright star, BETA, Andromeda.  It’s AKA “Comet Komorowski” as well as other names.  To read a very interesting story: 

December:  NGC 467 M12.5;  NGC 470 M11.9;  and NGC 474 M11.1:  Galaxy cluster in Pisces:  Coordinates are for NGC 474:  RA 01h 19.7m  Dec. +03 25′  A beautiful and fabulous galaxy cluster, all fitting nicely in a 1/2 degree field of view…