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Omega Centauri from 40 Degrees Latitude

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#1 krp

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 06:59 PM

Has anybody seen Omega Centauri from 40 degrees latitude? I plan to try in a couple weeks from Central Illinois. According to Stellarium, the best time to see it is early to mid-May at 10:30-11 pm when it will be up to 3 degrees above the horizon. Is it very likely I'll spot it?

#2 Nick Anderson

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 07:37 PM

Not from 40 degrees, but I've seen it from northern North Carolina and southern Virginia (36 and 37 degrees respectively) before.

One night in May 2012 from North Carolina, the excellent transparency conditions allowed the cluster to unbelievably be caught with the naked eye as a moderately difficult averted vision object (3/5) only 6 degrees at most above the horizon!!

Additionally that same night, I also caught 7th magnitude globular cluster NGC 5286 in Centaurus a mere 2 degrees above horizon. That one is a Caldwell object, but it will be below your horizon.

What it will likely come down to from your latitude is transparency and timing. If it's clear down to the horizon, I'd give it an attempt when it transits.

-Nick Anderson

#3 Ed D

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 07:43 PM

What it will likely come down to from your latitude is transparency and timing. If it's clear down to the horizon, I'd give it an attempt when it transits.

-Nick Anderson


I agree. You have nothing to lose by trying. I hope you get to see it, even if low in the sky.

Ed D

#4 KidOrion

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 08:43 PM

I've seen it from Carbondale, at 37.7N--for what that's worth. So it can be seen from Illinois. :)

#5 MikeRatcliff

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 11:28 PM

I saw an article on observing Omega Centauri from the southern-most location in Canada, Pelee Island in Lake Erie. That location is 41.7 degrees North latitude, and I recall it took a lot of planning to pull off. The lake allowed for a good horizon of course.

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#6 Starman1

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 12:17 AM

Has anybody seen Omega Centauri from 40 degrees latitude? I plan to try in a couple weeks from Central Illinois. According to Stellarium, the best time to see it is early to mid-May at 10:30-11 pm when it will be up to 3 degrees above the horizon. Is it very likely I'll spot it?

Learn the constellation stars in the area so you know approximately where it is.
Use binoculars.
Pray for really really clear skies with no smog or humidity.

#7 KidOrion

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 12:58 AM

My experience (for what it's worth) is that it'll help to spot it in binoculars before going with a scope. I used 11 x 80s before switching to an 8" SCT (foregoing the 12.5" Dob I've borrowed, which doesn't have a finder scope). The globular was almost invisible in the finderscope of the SCT, and not at all prominent in the scope itself. A lot of that was due to the fact that the local observing site with the flattest, most unobstructed southern horizon also has a fair amount of light pollution to the south. A good site will make a world of difference.

As others have said, keep your expectations low. Having seen it before in a 16" from southern Arizona--and knowing it wouldn't be impressive from here in Illinois--I was still surprised at how difficult it was from further north.

Where will you be observing from?

#8 krp

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 01:19 AM

Last year I went to Missouri for a weekend and tried to find it in binoculars as it was 4-5 degrees above the horizon. But with the full moon shining in my face I couldn't spot it. I do have some experience now observing an object low on the horizon with Panstarrs.

@KidOrion I'm moving to Pekin, IL next week so I don't know for sure about observing locations. I'm going to try here http://goo.gl/maps/1XfjC if it's not flooded. It will be nice to have a green zone 40 minutes from my house instead of 3 hours away.

#9 Rich (RLTYS)

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 05:40 AM

Definetly a challenge, LOL.

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#10 deepskydarrell

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 11:42 AM

The first time I caught NGC 1316, the Fornax A galaxy I was at 49° 04' N. That put it at less than 4° above the horizon. I was on a mountain though. Hardly any need for a star hop that time -- I just picked my way across / above the distant peaks.

The big globular could be easier perhaps, still ghostly but with a bit of sparkle?

To finally get the glob NGC 6397 at under 4° above the horizon from Southern California, I had to climb my ladder with my 13 X 80 finder to look over the bushes. It was a starless glow but I got it.

DSD.

#11 blb

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 01:37 PM

I am located in North Carolina at 36 degrees north latitude and both NGC5139 (Omega Centaurus)and NGC5128 (The Hamburger Galaxy) are easy targets from a dark sky site with a good southern horizon using my 10x50 binoculars. Even with a telescope though, Omega Centaurus looks like a milky spot on the sky that is about four times the size of M13. This globular cluster is visible from 40 degrees north latitude but you will need a good dark site with a truly good southern horizon and no light pollution in the southern sky. For me NGC5139 is only 6.5 degrees above the horizon when it transits and for you it will only be 2.5 degrees high when it transits, so pick a really good night and a great site for you try and you just might see the large faint milky spot in the sky. Good Luck.

#12 Lard Greystoke

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 07:32 PM

I saw it from 40N the last time Halley's comet came through. Of course skies have deteriorated since then. I tracked downwards from Spica all the way to the horizon, then scanned back and forth with the finder. In a 10" it was huge, clearly visible, very faint with no individual stars seen.

#13 Starman1

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 08:01 PM

Aye, clear horizons.
My funny Omega Centauri story:
I was observing from 34 degrees north. It was my first solo trip to the desert, and i was a little nervous to be by myself.
The horizon was super-clear, and I had Omega Centauri in the eyepiece and the 6" had stars resolved from edge to edge in the field. It was Most Impressive!
Just as i was watching, a black shadow started eclipsing the cluster!
I looked up, expecting someone to be standing in front of the scope--someone I didn't hear come up--someone whose intent was nefarious!
I looked up quickly, with my heart racing......

But there was no one there.
I looked at the horizon, and there it was--sitting on the horizon. I looked back in the scope and noticed the black shadow occulting the cluster was the ground! It was setting.

I haven't had that clear a horizon since, and that was 35 years ago. But I still laugh when I think about that night of viewing omega Centauri.

:rainbow: :foreheadslap: :lol: :lol:

#14 JayinUT

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 09:20 PM

I've seen it at 39 degrees north and 40.94 degrees north. Wasn't hard to find but I have to say it wasn't nothing to really write home about. Transparency and Seeing were so so each night. Spring in Utah when the jet stream is usually overhead even when its clear.

#15 Bill Weir

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 12:39 AM

It will all depend on your southern horizon and light in that direction. One of the points furthest south in Canada is Point Pelee Park in Ontario. It sticks out into Lake Erie. I think the tip is about 41º55'N. There are more than a few who have seen it from there. Some will make the trip across to Pelee Island a tad further south in the lake to take themselves a full 10' closer.

If they can see it then you can. That is if you have a flat horizon to the south.

Bill

#16 RussL

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 07:26 AM

I've seen where it is from 34* N latitiude, but have not detected it yet due to my short window of opportunity at my house and its being way down in the "soup."

#17 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 02:26 AM

There's an article on observing Omega Centauri from northern latitudes in the Binocular Highlight section (page 45) of the May issue of Sky & Telescope.

Dave Mitsky

#18 jrbarnett

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 10:29 PM

From 36 degrees it's brilliant and easy.

You might want to head south to Garden of the Gods in the southern part of the state and give it a try from there.

Good luck!

- Jim

#19 Sarkikos

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 10:34 AM

krp,

I've seen Omega Centauri from 39 degrees. In fact the first - and only - time I've ever seen it was this past March from my dark site on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The site is adjacent to a large rectangular field. The southern horizon there is pretty low, but I still had to walk way back toward the north end of the field to catch it with my 7x42 binoculars.

I bagged Omega a few minutes before culmination. By the time it actually culminated, it had already passed behind a slightly taller row of trees. That's all it takes to block an object so close to the horizon. By the time I got back to where my 10" Dob was set up farther south along the field, Omega was already hidden by trees. But at least I did get to see it in binos.

So take a good look at the southern horizon where you're going to try to catch Omega Centauri. Higher altitude or a vantage point looking south over a large body of water would be advantageous. I had neither at my site.

Think about where the meridian meets the horizon, and if you might have better luck snagging Omega a little before or after it culminates. Also, keep in mind that Zeta Centauri is about at the same declination as Omega. If you can see Zeta, you should be able to see Omega.

There are stars and asterisms that can help lead you to Omega. Go south from Spica to a south-pointing triangle (nw of Menkent). Go farther south to an east-pointing triangle. Directly south from this triangle is Zeta Centauri. Now go west to Omega.

Good luck.

Mike

#20 Jeff Porter

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 10:03 AM

Jay, myself, and one other observer were out last night and caught Omega from our location at about 40 degrees latitude. It was just on the horizon were our transparency was marginal, so we could only make out the overall shape rather than really bring out individual stars. I was using my 17.5" f/4.5 dob and a 35mm Panoptic.

JP

#21 JayinUT

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 10:13 PM

I'll add to Jeff's post (by the way, one of the best nights for viewing last night after 11:00 p.m. with just incredible views of galaxies and structures in them and Saturn, just incredible with detail on the planet, and details in the rings) in that we saw it in his 17.5 Starstructure and then we used 10x50 binoc's to compare the size of Omega and then using the same binocs looked at the size of M13 which was up nicely by this time. I think for northern observers seeing it in a scope is good, but to get a sense of size use a good set of binoculars, at least 10x50 and compare the size of M13 to Omega C. It provides a sense of how big Omega really is. SQM-L was 21.57 at zenith.

#22 Laurent Ferrero

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 06:22 AM

I have observed the radio galaxy Centaurus (NGC 5128) from the latitude 43°18' from the south of France where I live but I've I have not been able to see Omega Centauri from this place.

#23 krp

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 12:45 PM

I'm looking forward to the challenge in a few days when the clouds clear up. I plan to be on the north side of a lake in a green zone so the horizon shouldn't be a problem. I'll be using my 8" dob and a pair of 10x50 binoculars. I've actually been to Point Pelee 7 years ago, but I never thought of people observing from there. Thanks for the information.

#24 krp

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 02:10 PM

Well I tried last night but I failed. I spent almost an hour looking for it, I felt like I was so close to seeing it. I think the humidity and slightly foggy eyepiece got in the way. I did actually get a picture of Omega Centauri and Centaurus A just before they slipped beneath the horizon though. So now I have a better idea of where it is exactly. Out of all the stars in the picture, I could only see the 6 brightest ones in my finderscope.

I'm not giving up. I'll try again Sunday night if the weather holds.

Attached Files



#25 Sarkikos

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 05:13 PM

krp,

In your photo I can pick out two of the markers I use to find my way to Omega Centauri. On the left side, 2/3 of the way from horizon to top edge of the picture, is the eastward pointing triangle I mentioned in my post. Directly south of that triangle, a little above the horizon on the left, is Zeta Centauri. Head directly west from Zeta and you reach Omega. Notice that the distance from the eastward pointing triangle to Zeta is roughly the same as from Zeta to Omega. Easy sneezy, as long as Omega is above the horizon and not behind trees.

Spica > southward pointing triangle > eastward pointing triangle > Zeta Centauri > Omega Centauri. This is the easiest way I know to track down Omega without using goto or DSCs. It's a lot easier than just fishing around for it.

Mike






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