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
The Spindle Galaxy (M 102) in Draco
The Spindle Galaxy was discovered by Pierre Méchain on 27th March 1781. Méchain described the object as a
nebula between the stars Omicron Boötis & Iota Draconis,adding that
it is very faint; near it is a star of the sixth magnitude.Méchain probably meant Theta Boötis, not Omicron, which contributed to the subsequent confusion around the identity of M 102. Omicron Boötis is more than 40 degrees away from Iota Draconis, which makes the possibility of an error very likely. Méchain reported the discovery to Messier, who added the object to his catalogue.
The confusion about the object started two years later, in May 1783, when Méchain wrote to Bernoulli in Berlin saying that the listing of M 102 was a mistake and that the object referred to was a duplicate observation of M 101. One can imagine that M 102 could not be found due to the error in the original observation notes.
It was the French astronomer Camille Flammarion who identified NGC 5866 as M 102 in his “List of the Messier Objects,” published in L’Astronomie in November 1917, arguing that the Greek letter Omicron (ο), written down by Messier, was in fact a lowercase Theta (θ). This was probably correct because the object found at this location corresponds to Messier’s description of M 102.
The Spindle Galaxy was independently discovered by William Herschel in 1788. Herschel determined the position of the object on May 5, 1788, describing it as
very bright. Considerably large. Extended. Following [east of] 2 stars.
M 102 is a spindle-type galaxy, seen edge-on and around 41 million light years distant. It is magnitude 10.7 and 6 x 3 arc minutes in extent. There are many faint galaxies in this image including mag 14.9, NGC 5826, at bottom centre and mag 16.2, PGC166188 towards top-right.
I find the image to be particularly pleasing as I seem to have captured the pearly white glow of the halo around the galaxy, the warp at the eastern (right) edge of the dust lane, something of the blue glow of star-forming regions at the western edge of the dust lane and the orange glow of old stars in the core. This cropped image shows more detail.
- Telescope: 8" Ritchey-Chretien at 1660mm focal length.
- Camera: QSI 583 with Astrodon filters.
- Mount: Skywatcher EQ8.
Data for this image were captured between 27th May and 17th June - yes on the shortest nights and with a waxing Moon. The data comprises 23 x five-minutes luminance and seven each of five-minutes RGB subs, all binned 1 x 1.The main image is 30 minutes each of RGB in two-minute subs.
David Davies - (21 June 2017).
Two faint globular clusters in Delphinus
The first is NGC 6934, imaged on 16th August 2018 but processed only earlier this year.
NGC 6934 is a faint globular cluster of magnitude 8.8 and containing 16th magnitude stars and fainter. It is 51,000 light years away.
The second is NGC 7006 captured in September 2018.
NGC 7006 lies on the fringe of the Milky Way's halo at a distance of 135,000 light years. In the 1910s and 20s, studies by Shapley of the stars in NGC 7006 and other globular clusters were used to measure the size of the Milky Way galaxy.
This cluster lies at a low galactic latitude and its brightness is dimmed by the intervening dust. It has a visual magnitude of 10.6 and stars near the core are around mag 15.6.
- Telescope: 8" Ritchey-Chretien at F/8.2
- Camera: QSI 583 with a Lodestar as off-axis guider
- Mount: Skywatcher EQ6
David Davies - (20 March 2019).
Dale Holt recently sent me a large selection of sketches, for which I have to thank him. I've taken the liberty of selecting a few that I find interesting because of the process they show.
NGC 2283 in Canis Major
The first is Dale's pencil sketch of this galaxy showing his annotations. He's back to using his 505mm Newtonian with an analogue Watec 120N+ camera.
Next Dale's reversed the first sketch to provide a light on dark sketch that can help detail pop out. It's perhaps a better representation of what you see in an eyepiece of a really large scope with nice skies.
However Dale's using Electronic Assistance (EA) here to view on a monitor under (as he mentions in his notes) hazy British skies. I expect that's what he's going to talk about at our Annual Meeting in Cambridge this summer when he "goes deep on the cheap".
I couldn't resist comparing that view to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). I think that Dale's capturing a fair amount of the detail in the image below, especially around the bar. The Digitised Sky Survey (DSS) isn't as detailed as Dale's view.
NGC 2683 in Lynx
The final sketch I'd like to present represents a change in drawing technique. Dale says that he found this galaxy
stunningand decided to use
pastels on black paper as opposed to my usual graphite on white. It has a much softer feel than the pencil sketches.
James Whinfrey - (4 March 2019).
A Galaxy and a Flame
Last night's weather conditions could not have been better. I had a wonderful clear sky all night. This is something that we don't often see under British Skies.
This was good enough that I was able to finally save some ancient light from two targets. The first one is in the constellation Auriga, and the other one, in the late Winter-Spring constellation Leo.
NGC 2903 is a field barred spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. It was discovered by William Herschel who catalogued it on November 16, 1784. NGC 2905 is a bright star cloud within this galaxy. NGC 2903 has a very high speed of creating new stars in the central region. Wikipedia
- Distance to Earth: 30.66 million light years
- Magnitude: 9.7
- Apparent magnitude (V): 9.7
- Apparent size (V): 12'.6 × 6'.0
- Redshift: 556 ± 1 km/s
- Constellation: Leo
My picture was taken with 5-minute exposures x36 to give a total exposure time 3hrs.
IC 405 is an emission and reflection nebula in the constellation Auriga, surrounding the bluish star AE Aurigae. It shines at magnitude +6.0. Its celestial coordinates are RA 05h 16.2m dec +34° 28'. Wikipedia
- Magnitude: 6
- Apparent magnitude (V): 6
- Distance: 1500 ly
- Coordinates: RA 5h 16m 5s | Dec +34° 27' 49"
- Constellation: Auriga
This picture was again 5 minutes in length. I took 24 exposures for this two-hour composite, using a 7nm Ha filter.
Paul A Brierley - (3 February 2019).
NGC 188 in Cepheus
I have upgraded the mount in my observatory from an EQ6 to an EQ8 and have taken the opportunity for a restructuring of the cabling and power supplies.
Looking for an interesting challenge as a first image, I selected NGC 188. At just 4 degrees from Polaris, it represents a challenge for observers with an equatorial mount due to the awkward geometry and is in a part of the sky that is not often observed.
First discovered by John Herschel in 1831, NGC 188 is an open cluster of old yellow stars sitting about 1,600 light years above the galactic plane and 5,000 light years from us. It is moderately faint, with a combined magnitude of 8.1 and containing around 200 stars of 10th to 18th magnitude with the 10 brightest stars being yellow giants.
- Telescope: APM 107 Apo refractor
- Camera: QSI 583 with an SX Lodestar as off-axis guider
- Mount: Skywatcher EQ8
- Software: Pixinsight and Photoshop
David Davies - (22 November 2018).
NGC 678, NGC 680 and IC 1730 in Aries
I sketched these galaxies on the 17th November. I used the 505mm Newt with the old Watec 120N+ camera, I have ditched the digital CCD Ultra star at least for now! I am also running without GoTo software so it is a matter of star hoping by input of RA and Dec coordinates into the AWR handset, labourious, but at least I'm getting some observing and sketching done!
Dale Holt - (20 November 2018).
M56 in Lyra
I'm continuing my observations of globular clusters so this is Messier 56 in Lyra.
Charles Messier found M56 on the 19th March 1779, on the same night he also discovered a comet. He reobserved M56 on the 23rd March and noted that it was a
nebula without a star and little light close to a 10th magnitude star. Five years later, John Herschel succeeded in resolving this globular cluster into individual stars. He described M56 as a
fine compressed cluster, inclining to a triangular form, brighter towards the middle, with stars of 12th to 14th magnitude.
M56 has a very eccentric orbit around the galactic centre taking it from a few thousand light-years of the galactic centre out to 40,000 light years from the centre. M56 is currently 27,000 light-years from us as it traverses the outer half of its orbit. It has around 200,000 solar masses and is just one third the size of M13. The 25 brightest stars have an average magnitude of 15.3. Notable is the 10th magnitude blue-white star to the west (right side) which was noted by Messier.
- Telescope: 8" Ritchey-Chretien at F/8.2
- Camera: QSI 583 wsg and Lodestar guide camera
- Mount: Skywatcher EQ6
This is an RGB image with five 5-minute exposures per colour captured on 5-6 August 2018.
David Davies - (17 September 2018).
June's Galaxy of the Month: M101
This is a image of M101 with data captured over the 13th, 16th and 20th of March 2018 for a total of 4h10m (25x600s) of luminance and 20m (2x600s) each of Red, Green and Blue.
I used an Altair Astro GSO 10" F8 scope with a Starlight Xpress H694 camera and Astronomik filters from Mileaway Observatory in East Sussex.
Paul Whitmarsh - 5 June 2018
Winter Open Clusters
Recent months have given us the worst run of observing weather I can remember and during this time I've been using what clear spells we've had to do some telescope testing. This has meant that I've been out grabbing a few test images when conditions would otherwise have kept me indoors. So looking back, I can now see that some of these test images are quite presentable so I thought I'd share them with you. So these are a small collection of Winter open clusters looking south from my observatory in Cambridge.
Messier 46, NGC 2437 and the planetary nebula NGC 2438 in Puppis
M46 is one of the richest open clusters with over 500 stars, over 180 of them brighter than magnitude 13 and the brightest being around magnitude 9. M46 is around 4480 light years away. There are a few red giant stars indicating a cluster age of around 500 million years. The planetary nebula NGC 2438 lies in the northern region of M46 and it is still debated whether it is part of M46 or is a foreground object. M46 was imaged on 10 February 2018.
Messier 50, NGC 2323 in Monoceros
M50 is a much sparser open cluster with around 100 stars at 2900 light years distant. Noteworthy is the magnitude 7.8 red giant star to the south of the cluster and the double stars on the northeast edge. M50 was imaged on 24 February 2018.
Messier 67, NGC 2662 in Cancer
M67 is 3000 light years away, is one of the oldest open clusters known and is thought to be 3.7 billion years old, almost the age of the Solar System. It contains highly evolved stars, including around 20 red giant stars. M67 was imaged on 8 March 2018.
Messier 44, NGC 2632 in Cancer, Praesepe or The Beehive Cluster
This image is of the central region of M44, the field of view was too small to capture the whole cluster. At just 610 light years distant, M44 is one of the nearest open clusters. It contains over 200 stars with the brightest at magnitude 6.8 and over 20 brighter than magnitude 8. The cluster contains a large number of double and triple stars and over 100 variable stars. Despite the short exposures, there are several faint galaxies visible in the image. M44 was imaged on 8 March 2018.
- Telescope: 8" Ritchey-Chretien plus 0.7X reducer at F/5.3
- Camera: QSI 583 plus Astrodon RGB filters and a Lodestar guide camera
All images are typically six subs of each RGB colour and of two or three minutes exposure each.
David Davies - (11 April 2018). To see more of David's work please visit his Flickr Photostream.
NGC 4314 in Coma Berenices
A single sketch of a wonderful face on barred spiral in Coma B NGC 4314 from April 4th. Starlightxpress Ultrastar digital video camera and 505mm mirror used.
Dale Holt - (8 April 2018).