Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving thanks to Herschel

Tonight was the third clear night in a row here at the Lost Pleiad Observatory, and unfortunately, the last night of this extended Thanksgiving weekend.   I knew that I would not last as long tonight so decided to concentrate on just two constellations in my Herschel 400 observing program, Triangulum and Pegasus.  Together these constellations account for 6 of the Herschel 400 objects and one of them in particular is quite captivating...

Triangulum - The Triangle:

Click to enlarge
NGC 598 - The Triangulum galaxy, M33.  This object has always been fascinating to me.  I have seen it with naked eye averted vision from Portal, AZ., and on other occasions been unable to see it in binoculars.  It has a very low surface brightness and despite it's large apparent size, detecting any spiral structure is a challenge.  My best view has actually been in my TEC 140 APO from Portal, AZ.  Tonight, in my 12 inch SCT I was able to make out the "S" shape of the galaxy, as well as several knots in the arms, particularly the northern arm.  The small nebular HII region NGC 604 was the brightest.  Not one of my best, but the sketch at left was completed tonight (0345 UT 11.28.2011) using a magnification of 145x.

Pegasus - The Winged Horse:

NGC 7217 - A fairly large and slightly elongated 11th magnitude galaxy with a slightly brighter nucleus.
NGC 7331 - A famous target in this constellation that I have observed in many different telescopes.  Very bright, elongated galaxy with a very bright elongated nucleus, containing an even brighter central region.
NGC 7448 - Large galaxy, much fainter than previous two.  No detail seen- slightly elongated.
NGC 7479 - Another galaxy that I have observed frequently in the Schulman 32 inch telescope at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter where I work.  This galaxy is quite elongated in the eyepiece, but no trace of the spiral arms is noted tonight.  Slight brightening in the middle.
NGC 7814 - A very bright elongated galaxy with a very bright but small nucleus.

Herschel 400 count:  65 down, 335 remaining!

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