Archive for October 6, 2020

The Deer lick Galaxy Group and Deerlick Gap Overlook, Little Switzerland, North Carolina

October 6, 2020

We had an incredibly beautiful day yesterday (October 5th, 2020) so Deb and I (and Sophie too) decided on a trip to Mount Mitchell (North Carolina) which is the highest peak, east of the Mississippi…@ 6,684 ft. 

When coming back down the mountain to eat dinner with friends (Mike & Rhonda and their Dachshund, Peta) in Little Switzerland, we stopped at the Deerlick Gap Overlook.  

I have always considered this a “very famous” location for amateur astronomers, and professionals alike.

The “Deer Lick Galaxy Cluster” in Pegasus:

Finally the “definitive” story of how the name came about:

It has nothing to do with the appearance of the galaxies, but from the location where they were observed from…on one special night by the late Tom Lorenzin, 35 or more years ago.

So here is the story:

Friend and amateur astronomer (author of 1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing) the late Tom Lorenzin was observing from this overlook, with others from the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club.  

Tom was observing galaxy NGC 7331 in Pegasus, and on that night of  exceptional seeing and transparency, he made the following notes, taken from 1000+ of a very faint galaxy cluster, to the east of NGC 7331. 

NGC 7331: 10.4M; 10′ x 2.5′ extent; bright and much elongated edge-on spiral with stellar nucleus; axis oriented NNW-SSE; the Deer Lick group, a very faint triangle of 14+M GALs (N7335,6,40) is a few minutes E and a little N; “STEPHAN’S QUINTET” (soft glow of five very faint and distant GAL’s) is 30′ due S; good supernova prospect

http://www.1000plus.com/

From this extraordinary night this galaxy cluster, observed from the “Deerlick Gap Overlook” and Tom coined the name “The Deer Lick group” which stuck, and is known by both professional and amateur astronomers throughout the country and the world, as such.

A wide-field snapshot (below) from wikisky.org of the “Deer Lick galaxy group” and Stephan’s Quintet (compact galaxy cluster) to the south, at the bottom.

The large galaxy is NGC 7331, and the “Deer Lick Group” of galaxies are the small and very faint, mostly round galaxies to the east, or to the left of NGC 7331. A difficult group, best suited for larger amateur telescopes.

On excellent nights (NELM 5.2) using my 10-inch reflector from my moderately light polluted back yard, I can see the brightest member of the group, NGC 7335, requiring averted vision, but cannot hold constantly.

Stephan’s Quintet, the compact galaxy cluster is shown in the opening of the 1946 Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life” so be looking for it this year.

The following image provided by Mario Motta from Massachusetts using a 32-inch telescope of NGC 7331 and the very faint “Deer Lick Galaxy Cluster” to the E. North is up in this photo and W is to the right.

Mount Mitchell, not too far from Deerlick Gap Overlook

Grave of Elisha Mitchell (1793-1857) Scientist and professor. Died in an attempt to prove this mountain was the highest in the eastern United States

https://www.ncdcr.gov/blog/2014/06/27/the-death-of-elisha-mitchell/