Observations of Deep-Sky Objects
These are the observations made by amateur astronomers from around the globe. I'm keen to present the work of an observer (members or not) to further the aims of the Webb Deep-Sky Society. Images, sketches or even your observing notes are of interest.
If you have any observations of your own that you'd like to submit I'd be delighted to hear from you. Please try to include as much detail about the object (after all that's why we observe them) as possible. Time, date, location and observing conditions are useful.
We have observations of these Objects
Which fall into these classes
And these Constellations
Or if you'd just like to browse through our most recent observations
A Morning with Galaxies and a Cluster
Here are a few observations from the morning of April 27th 2017. My primary aim was to follow up on an observation that I made with Andrew Robertson, Owen Brazell and Callum Potter at Kelling using Andrew's driven 24" Dobsonian of the NGC 5222 group in Virgo.
My effort was reasonably successful, however the field of view using the Watec camera is small and I couldn't match the field of the eyepiece view.
After this I took the chance of going low into Ophiuchus and getting a sketch of M12 which was missing from my Messier sketch archives. I used the 6" triplet refractor and older uncooled Watec video camera as globulars being very bright tend to saturate the camera using the big mirror.
After I had sketched M12 I moved back to the 20" and searched the cluster finding 3 tiny faint galaxies in the outer fringe, fascinating. Unfortunately I haven't been able to id them.
Dale Holt - (2 May 2017).
Keep up to date with Dale's observations from Chippingdale Observatory by reading his Blog.
A Superb Session!
Clearing skies from the north meant that by 8.45pm it was totally clear and with the 92% moon rising just after 10pm there was a potential 2 hour window. The skies looked clear and dew free. So the OMC 200 was wheeled out for the session.
I was looking forward to Iota Leo (STF 1536) because of the difficult challenge to separate the two components, (mag 4 and mag 6.7, sep 2.1). At my last attempt in April 2016 I was unable to split the pair. Also I was keen to check out any hints of colour.
I synced the scope on Regulus (always a fine sight with its fainter companion) and then headed to Iota, even though it was not dark (8.40pm).
At x167, Iota was clearly a pale yellow and as it danced in the centre of the fov, it had that feel that it must be a double. There was a repeating hint of elongation to the shimmering, sparkling star. Going to x220, the yellow colour was still obvious and in the moments of steadiness there was the tiny speck of component B sitting on the first diffraction ring. At x320 I confirmed my sighting of B. Using x400 I could see B most of the time.
Having met the challenge all that was left was to confirm component C, no problem to spot this mag 11 star. I then just enjoyed the view and before I knew it 40 minutes had passed since I first sighted Iota. A delightful way to spend the time under the stars.
More for a laugh rather than with any seriousness I wondered if the Galaxy of the Month (NGC2964) might be visible in the OMC 200, noting that Owen had chosen a pair of brighter galaxies. So I sent the scope to Castor (glorious double) to sync on it and to get the equatorial flip out of the way and then headed over to NGC2964.
Noting that Owen had chosen a Herschel Galaxy, I thought NGC 2964 should just be doable. As soon as I looked through the e/p (x167), there it was. A definite oval shape and quite large. Then NGC2968 popped into view. I increased the magnification to x200. Both were easily held in view with a steady gaze. In fact as I settled into the view I kept getting hints of brightness within NGC2964 with the brightest part being towards the western end of the oval. NGC2968 was smaller and lacked any hint of a core.
The reason locating this pair of galaxies so easily was quite simple. The sky was quite transparent for GB skies. There was none of the dreaded clag or dew. Around 9.30pm (BST) I was able to see direct mag 5.6 stars at the Zenith in the 4 minutes of true astro dark.
With the moon still out of the way I then pondered Owen’s reference
In terms of visibility Harrington in his book Cosmic Challenge suggests all three galaxies may be the range of a 20cm (8”) telescope.Two mag 13+ stars were visible near to NGC2964 so I decided to try for NGC2970.
The obvious mag 11.7 star to the North of NGC2968 was a useful reference point and to my surprise I could see the mag 13.7 to the east of NGC2968 and then also the mag 14+ star came into view. With these 3 stars identified I stared intently, gently moving the scope to maximise my AV. Yep, there was NGC2970 – not exactly screaming at me but every now and then a small, faint fuzz kept appearing in exactly the right place.
Absolutely no way could I have seen it on a typical claggy, mag 5.4 night. Wow, what a privilege to locate it in the OMC. I now wished I had the Dob out and ready.
With the moon beginning to lighten the SE sky should I go for doubles? I then remembered that there are comets in our sky...
Mike Wood - 14 April 2017
Iota Leonis at Haw Wood
Thought I should mention my observation of this iota Leonis at the Haw Wood star party a couple of weeks ago.
As usual I’d taken my 24” Dobsonian but also my little 5” Russian Mak-Cass (F10, 34% obstruction) as a back-up. On one night it was very claggy so decided to observe some doubles with the 5” Mak (should add a Vixen Sphinx mount was used so overkill for this scope and very steady.)
Leo was on the meridian when I thought I’d have a look at iota. From memory I knew it was a tight binary and thought it would be about 2” separation now as I knew it was widening but for some reason I thought both components were fairly equal, I had forgotten there was quite a magnitude difference.
At x100 nothing so I put the power up to x180 and still nothing (I was of course looking for two fairly equal discs almost touching.) I decided I must somehow be on the wrong star. I was moving my eye away from the eyepiece when I just caught a glimpse of a faint spec and suddenly began to suspect my error. I put the power up to x254 which the little scope took well (it has excellent 1/9th wave optics) and sure enough a faint speck just beyond the edge of the first diffraction ring.
I crudely estimated the PA to be about 90 degrees. Checking later I gather it’s currently 94 degs PA and 2.15” separation with components of m4, m6.7. So I was quite chuffed at this little scope pulling that one out of the bag. (N.B. I’ve since looked at it with my OMC 200 and it was very easy in that scope.)
Andrew Robertson - 10 April 2017
NGC 2964 in Leo from Norfolk
I’d been at the SPA meeting at Cambridge all day. Got home, had tea then 2 hours sleep and was out observing by midnight. Choice of scope was the 12” Mewlon with a diagonal fitted for quickness and ease of use.
My intention was for Galaxy of Month first as I knew Leo would be past the meridian then 41P with C/2017 E4 about 4am.
Skies were good overhead, NELM of 5.5 but very damp and therefore claggy low down. The galaxy group was in the SW at an altitude of 41 degrees, so in-between these extremes of sky conditions.
I used a 27mm Panoptic and a 22mm Panoptic giving x132 and x162 respectively. The 27mm gave a nicer field of view but NGC 2970 was better seen in the 22mm – AV1.
Andrew Robertson - 3 April 2017
Observation of NGC 2964 in Leo
Please find attached an observation I made of this month's galaxy last year. I made the observation from my home site under poor skies (as ever). The instrument used was a 12" Newtonian reflector.
NGC 2964 - Large and quite dim. Brighter in the middle where there is a roundish brighter central area.
NGC 2968 - Smaller than NGC 2964 and dimmer. Elongated but with no sign of central brightening.
NGC 2970 - A very small, very faint, round nebulous spot. This galaxy is magnitude 13.6, but was rescued from the gloopy skies by having a high surface brightness of 11.7. It is a Markarian galaxy, bearing the catalogue number Mk 405.
When writing up this observation, I was puzzled by the elongation I had drawn for NGC 2968. Photographs show an elongation, but some way off the orientation I had drawn. Closer examination of the photographs seem to show that the photographic elongation is caused by the outer parts of the galaxy, which may have been too faint for me to detect. The central section of the galaxy does appear to have an elongation more in line with what I saw. This is an odd galaxy, and deep images show that it is interacting with the smaller NGC 2970.
Patrick Maloney - 2 April 2017
IC 504 group in Hydra
I was looking forward to this month’s challenge, because the chosen galaxies were IC galaxies. It is always interesting and a challenge to explore IC galaxies as a change to NGCs. Noting that they are magnitude 13 galaxies meant I would need a decent night. The night 20th March presented a NELM of 5.5 and for GB skies a night with slightly lower humidity levels.
I headed for IC 504 first as it is the brightest and immediately picked it up – x181. At x470 it clearly had a core, which I describe as a “soft core” – bright central area and gradually fading further out. IC 504 sits at the end of a delightful curve of mag 11/12 stars – useful to locate the galaxy as well as a “pretty sight”.
Putting the 13 ethos back in I was able to just locate IC 505 and IC 506 using AV, but it required a magnification of x294 to be certain of their position. At x470 I could detect a small, tight core in IC 505. Lying between these two galaxies is a delightful collection of mag 14 stars.
Just for interest I wondered if the 3 PGC galaxies would be detectable (all magnitude 15+). PGC 23509 is at the other end of the star curve from IC 505 and with concentrated viewing I spotted a faint patch of fuzz. Next up I was able to locate PGC 23493, using averted vision (AV2). Finally after much squinting I kept getting hints of PGC 23510 (AV3).
The following night, under similar conditions I was observing with Andrew Robertson, using his driven 600mm Dob. The observation went something like this: Andrew at the eyepiece, myself on the ground.
see the line of curved stars at the top of the fov
look to the left of the curve.
look to the right of the curve.
now look to the far right of the fov.
got them both.
see the brighter star in the centre of the fov and look a little below...,
Yep got itbefore I finished my sentence.
now look below 504 and...,
Yep got itwas heard again before I finished my sentence.
So in the space of 5 minutes Andrew saw all 6 galaxies, whereas it had taken me the best part of 30 minutes teasing them out in my 500mm Dob. It just goes to show the considerable greater light gathering of a 600mm Dob over a 500mm Dob.
After this enjoyable adventure, we wandered off to the Twin Quasers in Ursa major – now that did take a bit more effort, including using AV but wonderful to see an object 8.7 billion light years away.
Mike Wood (and Andrew Robertson) - 23 March 2017
More of February's Galaxy of the Month
This is my sketch of the NGC 3801 galaxy group, or part of it made using the 20" and Watec video camera on 16 January 2016. I didn't know it as that group name when I observed it.
Dale Holt - 17 February 2017
Arp 43 and some bonus NGCs in Bootes
A clear sky drags me from my warm bed and out to the observatory carrying the obligatory cup of tea. I’m moved by the sky that greets me once outside of the back door; despite the fact I’m not dark adapted the sky is still spectacular.
As I enter the observatory I decide that I shall hunt down an Arp galaxy in Bootes for a sketch and I decide on Arp 43.
I fiddle with the monitor and camera settings before deciding
this is the best view I will getand freezing the frame. It is now 5am and dawn will not be far off, with the frame frozen I can sketch at my leisure with no fear of losing my target. I get the stars draw in ink and add the galaxies, the very faint stars I add last with gentle dabs of a pencil.
I noted on the Carte du Ciel display that close by was another galaxy. Not sure what would show up at 6am, I sent the scope there and was delighted to see a pair of fairly bright galaxies close together.
I twiddled the knobs, froze the frame and sketched NGC 5859 and NGC 5857, the former showing quite considerable spiral detail and being the larger of two. NGC 5857 however had a noticeably brighter core, a very nice pair of, as I found later, non interacting galaxies.
The full story behind making these observations can be read on my Blog.
Dale Holt - (6 February 2017).
NGC 3801 group in Leo from Suffolk
I had looked February's Galaxy of the Month up a few days ago and was looking forward to viewing it.
The early hours of 4th February had superbly transparent skies (NELM 5.6) and so NGC 3801 was my first target of the session with the 20" Dob.
I immediately saw NGC 3801 followed by its partner NGC 3802. It took a little bit of effort to locate NGC 3790.
I began my sketch of the view with the 13 ethos. Twenty minutes into the sketch, thinking I was done, I caught a hint of of fuzz, North of the obvious bright star. This of course was NGC 3806 which I had totally forgotten about. It is definitely the hardest of the four galaxies to see.
- NGC 3801: easy, immediately obvious and with a distinct core.
- NGC 3802: slightly fainter than NGC 3801, smaller and elongated, hint of a core at 470 times magnification.
- NGC 3790: elongated and smaller still.
- NGC 3806: easy to miss as it's large and faint, circular patch of fuzz.
This group provided a very rewarding 45 minutes of observing.
Mike Wood - 4 February 2017
NGC 3801 group in Leo from Norfolk
Was totally unprepared for the clear skies this morning, so didn’t get out of the house until 1.30am. Would have taken too long to get the 24" going as fully battened down because of the strong winds forecast so the 12" Mewlon it was.
Got observing by 1.50am but initially looking at Jupiter and a couple of Messiers with the 4” refractor whilst the Mewlon was acclimatising. Decided to see what I could detect of February's Galaxy of the Month in the Mewlon.
Spent over half an hour on it. Didn’t look at the charts beforehand and it was a full month ago that I observed the group with the 24" so couldn’t remember what was where, just had two numbers in my head; 3801 and 3806.
Sent the scope to NGC 3801 with 40mm Pentax in giving just x89. Immediately saw NGC 3801 but it was faint and nothing else seen. Put the 27mm Pan in giving x135 and started suspecting a faint galaxy directly above it (NGC 3802). Switched to 22mm Pan (x162) and confirmed this AV2.
I then kept to the 22mm Pan and 20mm Pentax (x179) alternating between the two eyepieces and couldn’t decide which was best so I think this was the optimum power for the conditions which I should say weren’t bad at this point; 21.1 SQM and NELM 5.5.
I was using a diagonal and they were on the meridian so North was up and West to the left in the eyepiece. After some scrutiny I picked up a galaxy to the left (NGC 3790), I think this was a tad easier in the 20mm Pentax (AV3).
Couldn’t detect anything else. So I then sent the scope to NGC 3806 whilst looking in the eyepiece. NGC 3801 moved to the lower left and slightly below centre I was picking up NGC 3806 AV3. I think it was just too close to the edge to pick up when NGC 3801 was in the centre.
So this sketch was made BEFORE looking at the chart. I then looked at the chart and had a look for NGC 3803 but no chance, also a bit of clagg was coming in and I now wasn’t seeing NGC 3802 either. I probably spent about 45 minutes scrutinising the field.
Switched to doubles as the skies got claggier and packed in just before 5am, not a bad unexpected session.
Andrew Robertson - 3 February 2017