Archive for April 2020

NGC 188 – A Very Faint and Difficult Open Cluster, and so Close to Polaris

April 30, 2020

Image by James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

Telescope:  5.2-inch f/7 apochromatic refractor, 25 minute exposure with an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera.  Date of image:  April 26th 2020 

NGC188

 

Visual Notes by Sue French:  Observer from New York 

I’ve logged NGC 188 only twice:  By Sue French 

7-10-02, 10:25pm EDT, 105/610mm refractor, 87×, Seeing: fair, 

Transparency: good

About 30 faint to extremely faint stars in 17′. Slightly patchy background hits at unresolved stars. Inconspicuous.

 5-25-06, 2am EDT, 10-inch f/5.9 Newtonian, 68×, Seeing: poor, 

Transparency: fair

In a pretty field of bright stars.  Large, about 14′.  Nice cluster.  About 40 faint to very faint stars over patchy haze.

You’ll notice that my estimated size is different between the two observations.  Brent Archinal gives this a size of 15′.   

 

Visual Notes by Uwe Glahn:  Observer from Germany 

 4-inch binocular:  Magnification 23x, NELM 6.0 

     Stands out nicely from the background, visible with direct vision, large diffuse glow without any concentration, half-dozen stars are popping in and out of view within the cluster. 

 16-inch  NELM 6.5+

     Nearly fully resolved, very many (>50) faint mag. 14 stars with similar brightness, OC without any concentration or structures, some background glow.  

Pencil sketch:  20 x 125 binoculars and a 3º field of view. 

NGC188_ug

 

Rony De Laet:  Observer from Belgium 

The existence of this cluster was brought to my attention, back in 2005, when I became interested in sketching the Caldwell Objects. 

NGC 188 is the first entry in the Caldwell list, which is a list that orders objects from highest declination to lowest. Much to my surprise NGC 188 was located near Polaris, a convenient location to observe from my backyard. At that time, I had a computer controlled 105mm f/14 Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope. 

I was pretty sure that my scope was pointed in the right direction, but when I looked into my 25mm EP…nothing but an empty field.  This was weird.  The cluster’s magnitude was rated at 8! That should have been a piece of cake, as I’d  sketched dimmer objects like M56. 

I read James O’Meara’s notes on Caldwell 1 a few hours earlier.  He even mentioned seeing the cluster with a small pair of binoculars.  Just to be sure, I sketched the stars in the field of view, but I wanted to know what went wrong. 

I believe there are two reasons why NGC 188 was beyond my reach. 

The first reason:  The majority of the stars are below the limiting magnitude of my telescope.  From my backyard, I could not see stars fainter than mag 12.5 with my 4-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain.  

The second reason is that NGC 188 is relatively large, so its combined brightness is spread over a large area, compared to a globular cluster like M56.  I had bad luck, that this cluster’s combined brightness was lower than the sky’s background brightness. 

Here are my notes and sketch from then.

Telescope:  4-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain 

Location : Bekkevoort, Belgium

Date:  November 1, 2005 , 20.45UT

Seeing:  2.5 on a scale of 5, Transparency : 3.5

Magnification: 60x

Fov 0.9°

I made the following sketch on a very dark (for my standards) night.  It was not much of a cluster to me in the ETX.  Only the brighter members are visible. The limiting magnitude is 12.5, so I guess this object is just beyond my reach.  

North is down and west is to the left: 

80klaar

 

From the early years of the Observer’s Challenge Report: AUGUST 2010 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – NGC-188 

 

Meeting two Very Famous People In Amateur Astronomy

April 28, 2020

I was honored to have had the opportunity to meet and talk with Al Nagler.  Al is a such a nice and humble gentleman.  The photo shows Al signing a deep-sky observing book.  

http://www.televue.com/engine/TV3b_page.asp?id=21

DSC_0623

 

Listening to the “late” John Dobson, share his thoughts.   A very unique and interesting guy for sure.  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dobson_(amateur_astronomer)

John Dobson

 

A dinner party was held for Dobson during his visit.  I can be seen sitting on the floor and “again” listening to him, tell his many stories.  Most all in my area really enjoyed his visit.  

john-dobson-giving-advice1

 

 

The Questar 3.5-Inch Telescope Story, Vernonscope/Brandon Eyepieces and a Meade ETX 90 Astro

April 25, 2020

     Questar Telescopes (Maksutov-Cassegrain) have been built in New Hope, Pennsylvania since 1950.  Questar has chosen Brandon eyepieces for many years, which are also made in the USA.   https://www.questar-corp.com/

     Brandon eyepieces are optimized for telescopes with a focal ratio of f/7 or greater.   https://043a19c.netsolhost.com/

     The following are some photographs of a friends 3.5-inch Duplex.    

DSCF5015

DSCF5012    

     During the early 50’s, Cave Optical in Long Beach, California, manufactured the 3.5-inch mirrors.

    Questar advertised on the back of the front cover page of “Sky & Telescope Magazine” for decades!

A challenge to Questar?   

     In 1996, Meade Instruments Corporation, introduced the Meade ETX 90mm Astro.  This telescope was designed to be an economy Questar.  Mostly constructed of plastic, but with all the emphasis on the optics.   

     At that time, Meade was manufacturing the ETX, as well as most all of their higher-end telescopes in Irvine, California.     

     I purchased an ETX 90 the following year (1997) for use as a very portable telescope, to observe deep-sky objects within its grasp.  It served that purpose well.  The telescope had very good optics and would easily exceed Dawes’ Limit on double stars on a night with good to excellent seeing. 

     Dawes Limit:  4.56/A (A is aperture in inches) for two equal stars of about 6th magnitude.   

https://www.astronomics.com/info-library/astronomical-terms/dawes-limit/                                                                                                                                                                                               

     However, when considering fit, finish, cosmetics and ease of use, the ETX “cannot” even remotely compare to the “much” more expensive and precision Questar.  

     The 3.5-inch Questar continues to have its place in astronomy, despite most amateurs of today wanting larger and larger telescopes, but how many telescope companies do you know that have been in business since 1950?

      And from their longtime advertisement in “S&T” the following was said:   “Questar, The World’s Finest, Most Versatile Telescope”

     This must be true, to have survived in the ever-changing world of amateur astronomy equipment for 70 years.  (1950 – 2020)  

      I wrote the following story back in (2012) and it still receives views, even to this day.    Roger Ivester

https://rogerivester.com/2012/02/02/questar-a-high-precision-3-5-inch-telescope/

M85 and NGC 4394: Galaxies in Coma Berenices: Observer’s Challenge Report for May 2020: #136

April 22, 2020

MONTHLY OBSERVER’S CHALLENGE

Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina

&

Sue French, New York

May 2020

Report #136 

M85 and NGC 4394:  Galaxies in Coma Berenices 

“Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together”

 

Uwe Glahn:  Observer from Germany 

Objects: Messier 85, NGC 4394, MCG+03-32-028

Telescope: 27-inch f/4.2 Newtonian

Magnification: 172× – 293×

NELM: 6.5+

Seeing: III

 Location: Sudefeld  

Pencil Sketch: 

M85 Uwe inv

 

Sue French:  Observer from New York 

Roger and I corresponded about the galaxy NGC 4293, which is in the general vicinity of this month’s targets. This inspired me to sketch the three galaxies together as seen through my 105mm refractor at 47×, with a true field of 99 arcminutes. North is up and east is to the right.

M85 is bright with a large brighter core that greatly intensifies toward the center. Its close neighbor NGC 4394 hosts a spindle-shaped interior with a small brighter bulge at its heart, all wrapped in a very faint halo. More distant, elongated NGC 4293 holds a slightly brighter center.

With more magnification, NGC 4293 is an interesting galaxy. Even at 76×, the little refractor teases out a subtle brightening that looks to me like a very shallow S curve or integral sign running the length of the galaxy. This shows better with my 10-inch reflector at 187× where the slight S shape of the broad core blends into the galaxy’s slightly brighter edges, mainly along the west-northwest and east-southeast flanks.

fullsizeoutput_124e

 

Rony De Laet: Observer from Belgium

Telescope: 10-inch f/5 truss Dobson

Much to my delight, I was able to fit both galaxies in the same high power eyepiece. An interesting comparison!  M85 is obviously the brightest of the two, but it shows no structure in my scope. It is just an amorphous elliptical glow with a stellar nucleus.  NGC 4394 is the fainter companion. My bortle 5 sky allows me to see only its central bar with a faint stellar nucleus embedded within.

The sketch is a digital reproduction of a raw pencil sketch behind the eyepiece at 200x.

The fov is 22 arcminutes

North is up and west to the right

M85_sketch_ES10_rdl

 

Dale Holt:  Observer from England

I use a 505mm f/3.74 Newtonian on a fork mount and an old analogue Watec 120N+ deep sky video camera with custom cooling. The camera is B&W and delivers its image in near real time, typically 15 sec exposure to a CRT monitor in my observatory office where I sketch from the screen. Most commonly I used graphite pencil on sketch paper although sometimes I use white on black hard pastels where the object is nebulous. Post drawing I scan the image and invert using paint. Limiting magnitude of my set up is around 19-20th mag.

2018-04-18 M85 + NGC 4394 505mm + Watec 120N+ vid cam D Holt b&w

 

Ed Fraini:  Observer from Texas 

Observation report: M85 and NGC 4394

Date:  May 2020

Our observation of the galaxy pair was made on the evening of May 18th from 2140 CDT till 2200 CDT.  The Houston Astronomical dark site had average conditions, meaning high humidity so moderate seeing and an SQM of 19.45. The target field is near azimuth, located centrally between Virgo, Leo, and Coma Berenices giving us the best possible conditions.

Time 2140

40 mm (50x – 1.42º field of view)

M85 is visible, and NGC 4394 observed only with a blink of the eye.  Both show as hazy circular patches with no structure other than a slightly brighter core.  The core of M85 is distinct, and the outer edges of the circle are defused with no firm location. Both galaxies seem to be facing us.  The star PPM 129045, to the southeast is quite bright and clearly spaced away from the visible disk.

Time 2153

13 mm (100º AF)  (147x – 41 arcseconds)

At this power, the background is extremely black.  M85 is still void of structure, and the core is more distinctly differentiated from the disk. Now the gap between the bright companion star is much smaller. The thin veil of the outer disk reaches closer to it. Moved M85 out and placed NGC 4394 in the center of the field.  At this magnification, NGC 4394 is oval-shaped. Two exceedingly small dim stars on a line to the southwest of NGC 4394 can barely be detected.

Time 2205

6 mm (100º AF) (318x – 18 arcseconds)

Stars very dim, no useful observations made.

These two make a nice pair, how could they not be on the Two in the View AL program?  We only had about 30 more minutes of observing in this night before the clouds moved in, so this observation became the highlight of the night.  

 

Michael Brown:  Observer from Massachusetts 

I observed M85 and NGC 4394 on May 13, photographed them on May 20, and observed them again visually on May 21.  I cherish observing the sky in the middle of spring.  Each year there is that very first truly enjoyable night, when it is finally comfortably warm and dry after the long New England winter, yet the mosquitoes have not yet appeared.  I hear flocks of geese flying north overhead and owls in the woods around my house.  I have a strong association between those sounds and the galaxies populating the spring sky.

My cursory research indicated that M85 is an elliptical (or perhaps lenticular) galaxy, NGC 4394 is a barred spiral, and both are members of the Virgo Cluster about 60 million light-years distant.  In my 8-inch scope with the 9mm eyepiece, M85 appeared quite bright, with an extended bright center (definitely not star-like) surrounded by a faint halo.  The galaxy was elliptical in shape with a north-northeast to south-southwest orientation.  I glimpsed a bright spot northeast of the center.  In my first observation I thought this could be either a foreground star of a bright spot within the galaxy (I have confirmed that it is in fact a star).  A brighter star is visible in the field southeast of the galaxy.

NGC 4394 is in the same telescopic field east of M85.  This smaller, dimmer galaxy was still fairly easy to see.  However, it was simply a round smudge with no significant detail.  

My photograph (with my Canon Digital Rebel SLR) has a total exposure of 17 minutes.  The photo shows the bright core and surrounding halo of M85.  The core and bar are clearly visible on NGC 4394.  The two spiral arms are faintly visible, with the general appearance of two rings.  I believe I see two other fuzzy objects in the photo:  one beneath (south of) M85, and one to its right (west).  I’d be interested in any information on these objects that anybody might have.

M85 and NGC 4494 (2)

 

Vladislav Mich:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Date: April 18 and May 13, 2020

Location: White Mountains National forest, New Hampshire

Conditions: Bortle 2, average seeing

Telescope:  22-inch f/3.3 DOB with 10mm eyepiece (185x, FOV=33′)

Filter:  No filter

Notes: M85 (NGC 4382) and NGC 4394 are located among about a dozen of foreground stars.  Even thou NGC 4382 is lenticular galaxy and NGC 4394 is a barred spiral galaxy they looked alike to me. Besides bright central regions I did not note any other details.

Pencil sketch as following:   

M85+ Slav inv2

 

Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts:

M85 and NGC 4394 image taken through 32-inch telescope for two hours integration time, with my new ZWP ASI6200 camera, processed in PixInsight.  It is 60 million light years away, has faint shells in its structure, and a cloud of globular clusters swarming around it. 

NGC 4394 is another nice example of an ansae type barred spiral.  

2540995_1_M85_NGC4394

 

James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

Located in Coma Berenices, M85 is a lenticular galaxy. Its integrated magnitude is estimated between 9 and 10.  Because it is nearly face-on, M85 appears as an elliptical galaxy. Were it more edge on, its disk might be more apparent.

M85 was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1781 and confirmed by Messier soon thereafter. The galaxy measures 6.9 by 5.4 arcminutes.  The galaxy is 60 million light years away.

Less than 10 arc minutes east of M85 lies the barred spiral galaxy NGC 4394 which shines at magnitude 11.3.  The galaxy has a star-like core with a very bright bar running from northwest to southeast. While apparently close to M85 in the sky, in the literature distance estimates to NGC 4394 range from 39 to 121 million light years away. The most reliable distance is 58 million light years away, putting it close to M85.  Both galaxies have the same red shift; more evidence they are physically close in the heavens.

I took the wide field shot of M85 and NGC 4394 on May 24, 2020 using a 70mm f/6 Apo along with a 0.8x field flattener, focal reducer.  The image was a 110-minute exposure using a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The mount was a CGEM II. 

In the image the galaxy pair reside on the left side (east) of the image. The shot was framed to include the nearly edge on spiral galaxy NGC 4293 which lies one degree away from M85 (right side of the image).  NGC 4293 is a 10th magnitude galaxy measuring 6.2 x 3.6 arcminutes in size.  The bright star on the lower right side of the image is 11 Comae Berenices, which shines at magnitude 4.75. This is a binary star with the fainter component shining at magnitude 12.9 located 8.8 arcseconds northeast of the primary.

My second image has M85 and NGC 4394 centered.  It was taken using an 8-inch f/8 Ritchey–Chrétien with 0.8x focal reducer/field flattener. This 50-minute exposure also used a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera.  This image shows the bright core of M85 and its spiral-armless halo.  NGC 4394’s bar is clearly visible as well as its faint spiral arms.

All of the stars in the image embedded in M85’s halo are foreground objects.  The brightest star, just southeast of M85’s halo is magnitude 10.5.  The small, faint smudge 10 arcminutes to the east of M85 is IC3292. It is magnitude 15.3. This galaxy is visible in the wide field shot of M85. Just on the south edge of M85’s halo lies a 17th magnitude galaxy PGC40512, barely visible on the narrow field shot.

M85_RC8

M85_SV70

 

Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina

M85 and NGC 4394

Date:  April 16, 2020

Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector 

Sketch Magnification:  200x

Field of View:  0.33º 

M85:  A bright, high surface brightness galaxy with a subtle elongation, oriented NNE-SSW.  The galaxy is much brighter and very concentrated in the central region with a faint outer halo.  A mag. 12 star lies on the north tip, seemingly a bit brighter, and it stands out very well, at all magnifications.  

NGC 4394:  Smaller and much fainter than Messier 85, with a bright stellar nucleus, lens shaped and elongated NW-SE. 

M85 Roger

 

Glenn Chaple:  Observer from Massachusetts

M85 (NGC 4382) – Lenticular Galaxy in Coma Berenices (Mag: 9.1 Size: 7.1’ X 5.5’)  

NGC 4394 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Coma Berenices (Mag. 10.9 Size: 3.6’ X 3.2’)

The last two Observer’s Challenges, the 11th magnitude galaxies NGC 2859 (March) and NGC 3877 (April), were, well – challenges! If you’d like an easier target this month, we have something for you. If you’d like another challenge, we have something for you as well. The “easy challenge” is the 9th magnitude lenticular galaxy M85; the “challenging challenge” is its 11th magnitude neighbor, the barred spiral galaxy NGC 4394.

M85 is the northernmost Messier galaxy in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster and can be found about a degree ENE of the Magnitude 4.7 star 11 Comae Berenices. I described M85 is “easy,” because it’s relatively bright. I’ve seen it with a 3-inch reflector and a magnifying power of 30x.  Here’s a challenge. Can you capture it with binoculars?

If you look 8.5 arcminutes east of M85, you’ll see the faint glimmer of the barred spiral NGC 4394. Under dark sky conditions, a 10-inch scope will reveal the bar, which has a NW-SE orientation.  If you’re viewing NGC 4394 with a large-aperture scope, look for the outer halo, as seen in large telescope images. 

M85 was discovered by Pierre Méchain in early 1781. William Herschel picked up NGC 4394 three years later. Both galaxies are about 60 million light years away.

fullsizeoutput_1246

 

 

 

Fully Shielded LED Streetlights In Chimney Rock, North Carolina: Population 140

April 18, 2020

     While driving through Chimney Rock (population ~140 ) I noticed some very nice fully shielded streetlights.  This is a small tourist town in the North Carolina Mountains, about twenty miles southeast of Asheville.  

     However, I did note some “unshielded” high-intensity LED street-lighting, also in the area.  But, I’m hoping the “seemingly” new shielded lights are the future lighting objective or plans for Chimney Rock?     

     I’ll try to find out more about these lights, maybe this week (April 19th 2020.) I have no idea of the wattage or Kelvin of the lights at current, but just the  (fully-shielded) design is a welcome relief as compared to the (unshielded) lights for the past 70 plus years!  

     However, unnecessary high wattage LED lighting without any type of shielding continues to be a problem.   No one seemed to have known how bad the LED lighting revolution would be, as related to light pollution, human health and environmental hazards.  

     Yes, little seems to be known (even today) of the human health and environmental hazards the “invisible” blue lighting of high-intensity unshielded LED lights have created.   

     Hormonal cancers  (prostate and breast cancer) are greatly increased with the new LED lighting, based on the latest AMA studies and report.  

     See the latest report by AMA Trustee, Dr. Mario Motta:  

AMA Light Pollution Study Concerning Highway Safety and The Heath Hazards: By Guest Host, Mario Motta, MD, FACC

https://www.mariomottamd.com/

     Chimney Rock is only a mile or south so from the very small community of Bat Cave, NC. (population ~176)  and about an hour from our house.  

Roger Ivester 

IMG_1584

 

IMG_1585