7/1/16 - First Observations of 2016

A little late getting this one pushed up to the blog, but I had a really good evening to kick the year off...

Following on from my Astra photography session on new year's eve I decided that my next session should be an observational. The weather forecaster the night looked really good plenty of clear skies and nice cool temperatures with no wind. I took out two tables and SBT and set them both up in the the back garden.

At first I just sat down and looked around the sky to see what constellations were visible from my position. Once it had orientated myself, I took out my sky atlas and started looking for targets in the night sky. The first target for tonight was a target that I have only seen once before. It is called the blue snowball nebula. The blue snowball nebula is designated NGC 7662. Next on my list was another target that had seen before. M 33 is known as the Pinwheel galaxy or the Triangulum galaxy and is designated NGC 598. Unfortunately on this occasion I found it a little underwhelming even through the large aperture of the SBT.

NGC 1499 or the Californian nebula was an object on my list that it had not seen before. I used the Telrad to locate where the nebula should be. I didn't know what to nebula was supposed to look like so didn't know if it was looking at the correct feature. In my notebook I have noted a question asking myself if it was a dark nebula? The reason for this was that what I could observe was a fairly large dark mass amongst some very dim stars in the area that it should be. I obviously need to research there's a little further before confirming.

I have a series of books that are designed to work with a Telrad finder. One of the books is a list of often overlooked objects. I decided to work through this list and pick out my next objects to observe. NGC 2281 is the broken heart cluster. Though I have seen this before I wanted to seek it out again. It is a really pretty cluster made up of a double line of stars arranged in the shape of half a heart.
All of the objects that we observe usually have catalogue numbers assigned to them. So far in this session I had observed objects found in the New General Catalogue, but this next target also features in the Caldwall catalogue and is designated as C7 or NGC 2403. C7 is an intermediate spiral galaxy. It has a magnitude of 8.9 but is also quite small. At first I could see two main stars with what I thought was some nebulosity, but after checking I could see that it was the core of the spiral galaxy. I couldn't make out any structure beyond the two stars though. This was a very tough object to find!

Sticking with the Caldwall catalogue I moved on to C 39 or NGC 2392 - The Eskimo nebula. This is a very small target and even though I think it have seen it before I would have mistook it for a double star if it were not for a blue tinge to it. It is listed as magnitude 10. The clear and moonless conditions for the night allowed me to find it, but the local light pollution caused by neighbours lights added to the difficulty of picking it out.

Next came a magnitude 10.4 edge on galaxy designated as NGC 2683. I am really pleased that I managed to attract this target down. I saw a small slit of light grey fuzziness in the eyepiece. The more time I spent looking at the target, the longer the slit of light appeared to get as my eyes become more accustomed to the view. Definitely a Top Tick!

The night was moving on and it was getting late so with work to consider for the next morning, I had time for one more target before packing up. The final target for the night was another spiral galaxy. At magnitudes 10.1 it is designated NGC 2841. It has a small bright core and has a very distinguishable visible pair of stars designated HP 45965 and HP 45922 on the outer point of the galaxy. A quote from my observer notes simply says, " this is what the SBT was made for!"

This brought the end to a you really worthwhile first observational session of the year. Thanks for taking the time to read as post. Don't forget you can subscribe to my blog posts by typing in your e-mail address into the subscribe field at the end of this post. You will then receive blog posts via e-mail. Cheers!