Observing Report, June 15 to June 16, 2012. Location Starport, NH. Present were Barrie Sawyer, Kevin Ackert, and the 36-inch DOB AKA Godzilla. Moon not in sky, no clouds, seeing pretty decent and transparency was good.
As twilight faded we aligned the scope on Arcturus. Barrie went inside to make coffee and I was head set on having a galaxy night. I tried to find the trio in Leo and was disoriented due to the position of the constellation, the twilight, and not having been under a NH dark sky in awhile. While looking for the galaxies some neighbor of Barrie named Gary showed up and I went to M13 to entertain him. After seeing M13 fill the eyepiece at 176 X with the 26 Nagler, Barrie showed up and we went back to galaxies.
First up was the absolutely beautiful edge on spiral in Coma Bernices, NGC 4565. At 176 X it spanned the field of view from edge to edge. The dust lane and bright nucleus easily visible.
After trolling galaxies in the Coma Cluster for awhile we moved down to the neighboring Virgo Cluster of galaxies and to M86, M87, M85, M90, M60 and several more. When looking at the Virgo Cluster in the 36-inch it gets quite difficult to distinguish which galaxy you’re looking at unless you identify the patterns to a chart. I found the view with the most galaxies I could fit into the field and counted sixteen galaxies in one view.
From the Virgo Cluster we swung the lumbering beast to the North to the very bright M81 and M82. They would be the last galaxies we’d look at that were brighter than 10th magnitude for the next hour. We stayed in Ursa Major for at least the next hour enjoying 10, 11 and 12 magnitude galaxies near the inner corner of the bucket, including but not limited to M109, NGC 3953, NGC 3718, NGC 4605, and many others.
From the Bear we went right next door to one of Godzilla’s favorite constellations, Draco the Dragon. Now right near the sharp bend in the dragon’s body is a stunning edge on spiral with a beautiful dust lane called NGC 5907 aka Splinter Galaxy and aka “the real M102?” At this point we did a little galaxy hopping, just finding 11 and 12 mag galaxies nearby and going from one to the next. It took us to three very close and interesting ones just on the other side of the dragon’s body, NGC 5986, NGC 5982, and NGC 5981 (14th mag).
It’s around 2:30 by now and we’re moving farther East to Andromeda. We examined M31, M110, and M32, and then dropped down to the Pinwheel M33, all spectacular views in the large scope.
Next we went to the least known of the beautiful galaxies in Andromeda, and maybe the hardest to find, NGC 891, a 10th mag between Almach and M34. You have to work to find this one, but it’s well worth the hunt.
It’s after 3 am now and the moon is starting to brighten the eastern sky. We’re both pretty exhausted from the ladder and driving 500 lbs. of telescope all night, so we sat and talked and watched the moon rise for the next hour till the sun washed things out. As I stumbled to bed I realized that we’d spent the entire evening in only five constellations, mostly in the north, and we’d only looked at one object that was NOT a galaxy! Only with a scope like Godzilla and a sky like Starport could one entertain themselves for five hours in that
part of the sky.