Archive for the ‘Observer’s Challenge Reports’ category

NGC 772 – Galaxy In Aries – November 2017 Observer’s Challenge Report #105

December 1, 2017

LVAS Observer’s Challenge:  Click on the following link. 

NOVEMBER 2017 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – NGC-0772

NGC 772, faint mag. 12 galaxy in Aries 

10-inch reflector at 104x, NGC 772 is faint, difficult with low surface brightness, elongated, but subtle, oriented NW-SE.  The middle is a bit brighter with little concentration.  A pin-point stellar nucleus was noted, however intermittently, and required averted version.  Very soft mostly even halo with the edges fading gradually outwards.  My observing location was from my my 5.0 NELM backyard.  

The last time I observed this galaxy was November 1993, from the same location and telescope.  My notes from that session were almost verbatim to my most recent observation.  A true dark site is necessary to see faint details and structure, especially when using a 10-inch telescope.    Roger Ivester

Pencil sketch 10-inch reflector with a 5.0 NELM

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Image and notes by James Dire from Hawaii using a 10-inch Newtonian Reflector

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NGC 772
James Dire
LVAS Observer’s Challenge
November 2017

NGC 772 is a fine spiral galaxy in the constellation Aries. The galaxy resides 82 arcminutes east-southeast of the great 4th magnitude binary star Mesarthim, a.k.a. Gamma Arietis. NGC772 is approximately 10th magnitude and is 7 x 4 arcminutes in size.

NGC 772 is nearly face on, but asymmetrical in shape. Its distorted appearance is due to gravitational interactions with NGC 770, a 14th magnitude elliptical galaxy. Distance measurements for the pair range from 87 to 130 million light years. The spiral galaxy is thought to be twice the diameter of the Milky Way Galaxy. Some astronomers classified NGC 772 as a barred spiral while other claim it has no central bar.

I viewed NGC 772 using 190mm, f/5.3 Maksutov Newtonian at 111x. The bight core of the galaxy stood out. With averted vision, I could make out the asymmetrical shape of the spiral arms.

My image of NGC 772 was taken with a 10-inch f/6.9 Newtonian using an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The exposure was three hours. The two brightest stars in the image, on the left side near the bottom, are magnitude 11. The faintest stars in the image are magnitude 19.

The second image has arrows showing several of the fainter galaxies around NGC 772. I have labeled them with their best catalog numbers and magnitudes. The faintest of these galaxies is magnitude 18.1.  NGC 770 is the dwarf elliptical galaxy just to the south of NGC 770.

NGC 770 is thought to be a satellite galaxy of NGC 772, but it may have recently (cosmologically speaking) been captured and could be on a collision course with the larger galaxy. NGC 772 is unique in that its outer stars rotate around its core in the opposite direction the core rotates. This just adds to the mystery of how these two galaxies came to be associated with each other.  James Dire

Image by Mario Motta using a 32-inch Telescope from Massachusetts

NGC772a

 

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M15 Globular Cluster – Pegasus October 2017 – Observer’s Challenge Report

November 14, 2017

October 2017 Observer’s Challenge:  Click on the following link for full report. 

OCTOBER 2017 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – M-015 2  

Easy to see in 7 x 50 finder.  10-inch reflector at 267x, M15 appears mostly round with a bright intense middle, and an excellent resolve of stars in the outer regions.  When using averted vision, an intermittent sprinkling of faint pin-point stars in the central region.  An impression of dark lanes extending outward from the core and a star chain around the SSW edge.  Bright field star to the north.

3.5-inch Maksutov, M15 appears circular with a very bright and intense center.  There is no resolution of stars with this aperture.  RI 

Pencil sketch 10-inch reflector at 267x 

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Image of M15 by James Dire from Hawaii using an 8-inch f/8 RC telescope  

James M-015-2

 

M15 photo by Mario Motta of Massachusetts using a 32-inch telescope. 

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NGC 6905 – Planetary Nebula – Delphinus – Observer’s Challenge Report – September 2017

October 11, 2017

SEPTEMBER 2017 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – NGC-6905

Pencil sketch using a blank 5 x 8 note card with the colors inverted. 

Rogers NGC-6905

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M24 Star Cloud, Open Cluster NGC 6603, Dark Nebula Barnard 92 and 93

August 31, 2017

Observer’s Challenge Report:  AUGUST 2017 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – M-024

Image of the M24 complex by James Dire from Hawaii

M24

 

August 2017 Observer’s Challenge, Globular Cluster, M24 and the Many Other Wonders and Treasures Hidden in the Depths of the Sagittarius Milky Way by Sue French

On moonless nights away from the glow of outdoor lighting, the misty fall of the Milky Way tumbles down to the horizon through Sagittarius. Its gossamer glow is fashioned from remote swarms of innumerable stars, and the silvery splendor of their intermingled light shows us the plane of the disk-shaped, spiral galaxy we live in. The Sagittarius Milky Way is interlaced with dark rifts. For the most part, the stars that lie along this section of the Milky Way, as well as the dark clouds that decorate it, lie within the Sagittarius Arm of our galaxy. This is the next spiral arm inward from ours, and it blocks the view beyond. Within the dark rift, however, a gap allows us to peer deeper into the galaxy. The stars that shine through this hole make up Messier 24, the Small Sagittarius Star Cloud.

Messier 24 is sometimes called Delle Caustiche, a name attributed to the 19th-century, Italian astronomer Angelo Secchi. However, Secchi made it clear in his 1877 book Le Stelle that he was only describing a small part of M24. He writes of a little cloud, less than half the Moon’s apparent diameter, made up of a multitude of separate groups of tiny stars. Two of these groups are charted as seen through a 9.6-inch telescope. The first is labeled “Gruppo delle Caustiche” (Group of Caustics), because its diminutive stars are arrayed in arcs that resemble caustic curves. Secchi calls the second group, close south of the first, a circular collection of beautiful starlets arranged in several rays diverging from its brightest star. Its chart is labeled “Gruppo a raggera” (Sunburst Group). He refers to yet another section, next to the Sunburst, as a magnificent system of crossed arcs, the middle strewn with faint stars too numerous to count.

Indeed, one can’t help but point a telescope anywhere within the 2° × 1° oblong of Messier 24 without being struck by the richness and variety of the star fields. Through my 130-mm refractor with a wide-angle eyepiece at 23×, M24 spans most of the field of view. Its best-known features are the dark nebulae Barnard 92 and Barnard 93, seen in projection against the cloud like dusky eyes in a fuzzy face. B92 is a nearly north-south ink spot covering about 13½′ × 8′. B93 is an 8′ ×3′ band with a less pronounced extension bending southward from its southwestern end. This eye seems to be winking. Collinder 469 is a little knot of stars just a few arcminutes off the extension’s end. A very long and distinctive line of faint stars sweeps east-northeast to west-southwest across M24. The star chain skims north of B92 and B93, and it has a northward bump between them.

The open cluster NGC 6603 is a nicely obvious patch of haze flecked with a few superimposed stars. It’s perched near a red-orange star, which is the middle star in the northern arm of a 20′ V of 7th- and 8th-magnitude stars. The middle star in the V’s southern arm is the double SHJ 264 (S,h 264). Its whitish components are well separated, with the 7.6-magnitude companion 17″ northeast of its 6.9-magnitude primary. The pair’s designation tells us that it’s the 264th entry in James South’s and John Herschel’s multiple star catalog of 1824.

Although I can’t fit all of M24 in the field of view at 63×, it’s amazing how much more obvious and intricate the dark nebulae are at this magnification. A fairly conspicuous thread runs east-northeast from B93, leading to a large area of patchy darkness that contains Barnard 307. Much dark nebulosity spreads west from B92, and a long, forked patch (Barnard 304) reaches southwest. Collinder 469 and NGC 6603 share a field of view. Cr 469 shows six stars that form a capital A pointing northeast, while pretty NGC 6603 is a granular patch of mist. At 117×, Cr 469 displays 11 stars in a group whose longest dimension is about 3¼′. A bit larger, but much more crowded, NGC 6603 is sprinkled with many faint to very faint stars over haze. It sports a prominent southeast-northwest band of stars that cuts across the cluster’s center.

You might think that M24 would be a terrible place to look for a petite planetary nebula, but I was surprised to find NGC 6567 reasonably easy to spot through my 130-mm scope. At 37× it appears bluish and minuscule, but most definitely not stellar. A magnification of 117× reveals a tiny blue-grey disk that’s fairly bright. A dim star sits just off the nebula’s eastern side. At 205× it seems to have a brighter center. Through my 10-inch reflector at 115×, NGC 6567 presents a strikingly blue-green disk that I judge to be about 9″ across.

NGC 6603 is wonderfully transformed by the 10-inch scope. At 213×, it’s a beautiful cluster of myriad diamond-dust stars, with little unresolved haze remaining.  Sue French 

 

 

David J. Eicher

The starcloud M24, also known as the Small Sagittarius Starcloud. It is a dense patch of Milky Way, detached from its surroundings by lanes of dark nebulae. The cloud shines at magnitude 4.5, and measures 120′ x 40′ across. Its entire area fits into a binocular field, making for a spectacular sight. Telescopes don’t show the whole cloud, but several telescopic objects lie within and around the piece of Milky Way Galaxy.

The open cluster NGC 6603, which appears as a condensation in the rich background of starcloud M24, measures 4′ across and contains 50 stars of 14th magnitude and fainter, giving it a total magnitude of 11.4. Telescopes operating at high power show this misty spot as being slightly nebulous, giving the impression of an unresolved globular. The object looks similar to NGC 2158 in Gemini, the little cluster sitting beside M35. Also within the cloud is the bright, tiny planetary nebula NGC 6567, which glows at magnitude 11.5 and measures 11″ x 7″ in diameter. It is rather difficult to locate among the richness of the stellar background, but medium powers reveal the nebula’s fuzziness. Seeing 6567’s 15th magnitude central star is a difficult task even for large telescope owners: it is easily overpowered by the nebulosity. Another object immersed in M24 is the dark nebula Barnard 92, which measures 15′ across and lies on the starcloud’s northwest edge. On good dark nights it is visible as an obvious “hole” in the glittery backdrop of stars.

David J. Eicher, The Universe from Your Backyard – A guide to Deep-Sky Objects from Astronomy Magazine

 

Roger Ivester

Messier 24 is a rich detached section of the Sagittarius Milky Way, best observed with binoculars. M24 is also known as the the little star cloud with a size of 2º x 1º which makes it a bit large for most telescopes, and is best observed with binoculars.

It was my plan this year to use a small 3-inch rich-field telescope with a 4º FOV to finally attempt that pencil sketch which I’ve wanted for the longest time. Unfortunately the weather in North Carolina has been rainy and cloudy for most of the year to-date. I’ve had very limited time outside this year, so that wide-field pencil sketch of M24 and all of the integrated sights and features will have to wait for another year.

In the northeast section of the star cloud lies a faint and small open cluster, NGC 6603. Using a 3.5-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope at 52x, I found it difficult to locate, but this was due in-part to the light glow in my southern sky. I could not resolve this cluster, which appeared only as a faint mostly round glow.

Over the years, many amateurs have confused NGC 6603 as being M24.

Roger Ivester

Globular Cluster Messier 14 – July 2017 Observer’s Challenge Report

August 8, 2017

JULY 2017 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – M-014

In 10-inch reflector, M14 is a large cluster, mostly round, but with a slight elongation, oriented northeast-southwest.

At 160x very few stars can be resolved, but only with averted vision. The surface brightness is overall fairly low with a mostly even texture, but with a subtle brightening in the central region. The edges fade very gradually outwards.

M14 at magnitude 7.6 is quite a bit fainter than globulars M10 and M12, also located in Ophiuchus.

In 3.5-inch Maksutov-Cassegrain the cluster is mostly round with a faint brighter concentrated middle. No resolve of stars.

Roger Ivester

Pencil Sketch: 

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Inverted colors via computer:

Rogers M-014 Inverted

 

NGC 6015 – Galaxy in Draco – Observer’s Challenge Report – June 2017 #100

June 9, 2017

Observer’s Challenge complete report:

JUNE 2017 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – NGC-6015

Our 100th monthly anniversary edition.  

NGC 6015
Galaxy in Draco 
Telescope: 10-inch Reflector 
Magnification: 104x 
NELM:  4.5-4.8 
Conditions: 59º with high humidity and a 16% moon
 Low surface brightness, large, broad oval with a subtle brightening in the central region.  An 11 mag. star lies 2 arc minutes to the west of the galaxy.  A 14 mag. star is  visible in the extreme SW halo when using averted vision.  A pair of 13 mag. stars are visible with direct vision, located just off the SW tip of the galaxy.  
Roger Ivester          

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NGC 6015:  The following image provided by James Dire of Hawaii using a 10-inch reflector:

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The following image by Mario Motta from Massachusetts using a 32-inch reflector:

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Observer’s Challenge: Galaxy M98 in Virgo – May 2017 – Report #99

May 24, 2017

MAY 2017 OBSERVERS CHALLENGE – M-098-1

Image of galaxy M98:  32-inch reflector by Mario Motta from Massachusetts.   

M98

 

“M98 (NGC 4192) is an elongated nearly edge-on type Sb spiral, measuring 8.2′ x 2.0′ and shining at magnitude 11.0.  This galaxy’s surface brightness is rather low, making it a tricky object at high power.  Backyard telescopes show this galaxy as a thin streak of greenish light, slightly curved, showing a faint envelope of gas and a sharp nucleus.”   David J. Eicher – Wisconsin – Editor Astronomy Magazine 

 

“Although M98 has low surface brightness, it can be seen in a 60mm refractor under dark skies.  Through a 105mm scope at around 100x, the galaxy is about 6′ x 2′, elongated N-NW to S-SW.  It contains a brighter, extended patchy core and an off-center, nearly stellar nucleus.”  Sue French –  New York – Deep-Sky Wonders

 

M98 is one of the fainter of the Messier objects and can be especially difficult when observed with a telescope smaller than 4-inches. The surface brightness is very low, and regardless of telescope size, a dark sky is needed to see and fully appreciate the many faint, but fine details this galaxy has to offer.

In a 10-inch reflector, M98 appears fairly bright, elongated, a bright nucleus, with unevenness in the halo, with some mottling noted in the central region. Two brighter sections can be seen in both the NW and SE arms.  The nucleus is off-set toward the SE.  

With a 102 mm refractor, and observing from my moderately light polluted backyard this galaxy appears very faint, elongated and weak without any center brightness. In a 6-inch reflector, the galaxy is slightly enlarged and overall a bit brighter when compared to the refractor.  Roger Ivester – Observer from North Carolina 

 Pencil sketch:

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Inverted sketch: 

Rogers M-098 Inverted

 

 

By Dr. James Dire –  Observer from Hawaii
M98 is a magnitude 10.1 barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices. The galaxy is located 6 degrees east of the star Denebola. The galaxy is one-half degree west of the 5th magnitude star 6 Comae Berenices. M98 measures 10 x 2.8 arc minutes in size.

M98 is a nearly edge-on galaxy, inclined 74° to our line of sight. The galaxy has tightly wound spiral arms with a chaotic disk and an active nucleus. Distance measurements range from 44 to 66 million light years. It is thought to be a member of the Virgo galaxy cluster. The galaxy may have interacted with M99 750 million years ago which may account for the distortions in its disk.

Pierre Mechain discovered M98 in 1781, confirmed later that year by Charles Messier. Messier added M98, M99 and M100 into his third catalog immediately before publishing this final edition of his famous list. M98 is one of the faintest objects in Messier’s Catalog.

M98 is one of the few galaxies with a blue shift, meaning it is approaching us. This motion may be temporary if M98 is orbiting the Virgo Cluster. It may be at a point in its orbit where it is approaching us. If it is gravitationally bound to the cluster, it will never reach us.

I viewed M98 in a 6-inch refractor. The galaxy definitely was elongated and nearly edge on. No dust lane was visible and the core appeared much brighter then the galaxy’s edges.

My image of M98 was taken with a 10-inch f/6.9 Newtonian with an SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The exposure was 200 minutes. I would have preferred a much longer exposure to bring out more detail on the edges of the galaxy and may gather more data on it in the future. The brightest star in the image, located near the bottom left edge, is magnitude 11.7. The four star just off the left edge of the galaxy are magnitudes 12.5, 15.2 16.5 and 18.

On the image, note the bright star-forming region on the bottom (south) edge of the disk. The spiral arm edge visible on the top (north) side of the galaxy has bright HII regions with bright star clusters. Even with this small telescope, I was able to capture the distortions on the north edge of the galaxy’s disk. It appears like the galaxy has two disks that are slightly misaligned with each other. This was either caused the interaction with M99 cited above, or two galaxies have merged to create the presently seen M98.  JD 

M98

 

 

Messier 98 is the second faintest object in the entire Messier galaxy only preceded by M91 (only 0.1 magnitudes fainter). With a visual magnitude of 10.1 and a surface brightness of roughly 13.5 it can be a fairly difficult catch under light polluted skies.

Observing in a suburban location, I could barely make out M98 with a 4.5-inch telescope as an elongated galaxy with a brighter core. With a 10-inch dobsonian reflector and high magnification under a dark sky, I could make out some structure from the mottled disk.

I described the object as follows using magnifications between 60 and 343x:

“Elongated in NW-SE direction. Bright core with a nearly stellar nucleus in the middle. Two spiral arm stubs visible, southern one being slightly brighter. Some dark markings near on the NW side of the galaxy but too difficult to sketch properly. With a bit of a stretch the galaxy is 5′ x 2′ in size”.    Jaakko Saloranta – Observer from Finland 

M98 Pencil sketch using a 4.5-inch reflector:   JS 

M98_LVAS

 

 

M98 –  Date of Observation:  4/12/2015 

I first viewed this galaxy on April 2, 1978, using a 3-inch f/10 reflector at 30X. I wrote in my logbook “Very faint, but looms large with averted vision.” On both occasions, M98 was located with the help of an Astro Card.  Glenn Chaple – Observer from Massachusetts 

Pencil sketch with colors inverted.  GC 

Glenns M-098

 

I observed M98 in dark but hazy skies on Cape Cod with a 10-inch reflector at 87x.  It was easily found with a Telrad offset from 6 Com.  It appeared as an oval patch elongated with approximately 1:4 ratio.  The galaxy appeared uniform without internal details.

Joseph Rothchild –  Observer from Massachusetts

 

Time: 5/20/2017 10:30pm EDT; Location: ATMoB Clubhouse
Bortle Scale: 6; NELM: 5; Transparency: Good; Seeing: Average
Telescope: 10-inch f/5 Reflector 

I managed to locate M98 after several minutes of star hopping from Denebola in Leo. This is the first Deep Sky Object that I’ve attempted on my own in a non-goto telescope. It was quite a challenging learning experience. The galaxy did not jump out at me after initially finding the surrounding star pattern, so I doubted myself for a while until I finally spotted it.

I found that my 25mm eyepiece presented the best view at 51x, with a 1.38º FOV.   Using direct vision the core of M98 showed up as a faint glow. Viewing with averted vision, I was able to see a thin elliptical patch aligned with of a chain of three stars to its SE and two stars to its NW.

A bright magnitude 5 star, 6 Comae Berenices, lies 1/2º due east of the galaxy. Chris Elledge – Observer from Massachusetts 

 

M98

Site: Cherry Springs State Park, Coudersport, PA
May 15, 2017
NELM: 6
Seeing: Excellent
Transparency: Excellent

I observed M98 with a Celestron 8SE SCT, and a Meade zoom EP set to 21 mm, for a magnification of 97x.  

This is a delicate and wispy fried egg of a galaxy; at the time I noted, “reminds one of M108; more pronounced west; upward curve East.”

Craig Sandler – Observer from Lexington, Massachusetts 

M98 Galaxy in Coma Berenices 

May 1967 using a 6-inch reflector @ 59x was large, elongated, located 1/2º east of the 5th mag. star, 6 Coma.  

1991 – using a 3-inch reflector @ 39x:  Large, elongated and diffuse.

1992 – With poor transparency ~ 4.0 NELM using a 60 mm refractor @ 21x could not see.
 
1993 – Using 12 x 50 binoculars could not see, however, galaxies M99 and M100 could be glimpsed.  
 
Gus Johnson – Observer from A Delaware