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What's Up Canes Venatici

What’s Up

What’s Up Canes Venatici
By Steve Coe

Seeing as how Canes Venatici contains one of the most famous galaxies in the sky many people are going to discover it early in their observing careers. So, I will certainly include the Whirlpool Galaxy in this article. But there are lots of other interesting deep sky objects in this part of the sky, so let’s try a variety things to view along with M 51. I will also give you the answer to a trivia question: what are the names of the two hunting dogs that make up Canes Venatici? Answer--Asterion (Starry) and Chara (Dear).

NGC 4244 GALXY 12 17.5 +37 48 10.4 15.9 m
M 106 GALXY 12 19.0 +47 18 8.4 17.4 m
NGC 4485 GALXY 12 30.5 +41 42 11.9 2.4 m
NGC 4490 GALXY 12 30.6 +41 39 9.8 6.4 m
NGC 4631 GALXY 12 42.1 +32 32 9.2 15.2 m
M 51 GALXY 13 29.9 +47 12 8.4 10.8 m
AlphaCVN MULST 12 56.0 +38 19 2.9 19.4 s

NGC 4244 has been a favorite of mine for many years. In the Nexstar 11 at 125X it is bright, large and gradually brighter in the middle. The feature that really makes this an object that I return to often is that it is elongated 6X1 and also shows an elongated core. I see that elongation in a position angle of 45 degrees, or NE to SW. The image below from the NGC/IC Project shows this angle easily. It is a huge edge-on galaxy, but has somewhat low surface brightness, so I don’t see any more detail with a higher power. Add this flat galaxy to your observing list.

M 106 is a very nice, bright galaxy with a 6" f/6 Maksutov-Newtonian. With a 30mm eyepiece it is large and elongated. Raising the power with a 8.8mm EP shows it as elongated 3X1 with a suddenly much brighter middle. Using averted vision makes it grow longer.

With the 13 inch scope this galaxy is very bright, very large, very, very bright in the middle with an almost stellar nucleus at 135X. This huge galaxy is very much elongated 3 X 1 in PA 165. It sparkles with mottling in the arms. The eastern side of this galaxy cuts off abruptly and there are several brighter regions within the arms. An 11th magnitude star is at the north end. 220X shows the almost stellar nucleus more prominently--it is about 2 times the size of the Airy disk.

NGC 4485 is pretty bright, pretty small and elongated 1.5 X 1 in PA 20 degrees. It is the northern most of a galaxy pair with NGC 4490.

NGC 4490 is bright, large, much elongated 2.5 X 1 in PA 135, gradually much brighter in the middle and it appears to almost touch 4485 in the same field at 150X. This is a great “L” shaped galaxy pair.

NGC 4631 Looks great in the Nexstar 11 at 200X. I see it as bright, very very large, much elongated (5X1_ and having a bright middle with an offset core. This galaxy almost fills the entire field of view at 200X with an Ultra Wide eyepiece. It is very mottled with dark markings that are all along the length of this galaxy. A favorite.

On a great night at high altitude, a night I rated as 9 out of 10 for transparency, this object is fascinating using the 13 inch. At 150X it is very bright, very large, extremely elongated (6X1) in PA 90 with a bright middle. There is a star attached on the north edge and the galaxy is brighter along the north side. The body is very mottled and there are bright and dark markings within the structure of the galaxy along the body. I just watched "Crimson Tide" maybe it is a submarine with an incoming torpedo (the companion NGC 4627).

M 51 is the best example of a face-on spiral galaxy in the sky. I wish I had a dollar for every astrophotos that has been shot of M-51. Both Messier and William Herschel missed the spiral structure. It was first spotted by Lord Rosse in his newly completed 6 foot reflector. I have seen the spiral structure unmistakably in an 8" Newtonian at 125X on a superb night. On that same evening I could see the connecting bridge between M-51 and NGC 5194 with averted vision. However, this is one of those objects that really responds to aperture. The 17.5" f/4.5 on a good night at 150X will make the spiral whorls stand out across the face of this galaxy, with dark lanes starting at the center and wrapping completely around the galaxy. Be careful of the 12th magnitude star SW of the nucleus, it has been turned in as a supernova all too often. I have started to draw The Whirlpool several times and never finished, I just can't seem to get the detail to look right, maybe as I get better I'll try again. Using the 13" on a great night 100 miles from the lights of Phoenix with Bob Kepple, Glen Sanner and Father Lucien Kemble, the Whirlpool was super. It was very bright, very large, irregularly round and very bright in the middle at 135X. The spiral structure and the connecting bridge were unmistakable.

Cor Caroli is the brightest star in the constellation. It was named for King Charles II of England and means "Heart of Charles". Cor Caroli is a nicely tinted double star. The components are 3 and 5.5 magnitude and 20 arc seconds apart. The separation is about 770 A U, so the solar system would fit 5 times between these stars. This wide pair is easily split at 50X in most any scope you can muster. These stars appear blue-white and greenish in both my old 8" and 17.5". The 13" shows them at white and light green at 100X.


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